While Mamatha Shastri (10), Aaroshi Rao (13) and Mahima Prasanna (13) go about their days behaving their age, they have one eye on their environment. These children of Bengaluru are concerned about the future of their city, and its rapid deterioration isn’t flying past them without notice.
Launched as young authors via ‘The Make Believe’ anthology published by Aparna Raman of Timbuktoo Young Authors Publishing, it is evident through their stories that Mamatha, Aaroshi and Mahima are conscious of what’s going wrong around them. Not only are they aware of Bengaluru’s water, weather, garbage and traffic woes, they have also contemplated solutions that could very well lead to a better city.
For Mamatha, Bengaluru’s biggest problem is traffic.
“Mom complains and so do I. I am sure every Bengalurean complains. But we do not realise that we are the ones who disobey traffic rules and cause havoc on the streets,” she said.
Due to overcrowding, the city streets are jammed almost round the clock. Mamatha strongly believes that traffic rules have to be strictly followed. Not only will this help in regulating traffic, but it will also lower the rate of road accidents, which only seem to be on the rise.
For Mamatha, saving Bengaluru would not be difficult if all its citizens joined hands to make the city worthy of being called ‘The Green City’ again. The depleting green cover is another concern she voiced. Mamatha said that if one tree is felled, five more should be planted.
Mamatha, who studies in VIBGYOR High, aspires to become an adventure journalist and a writer for magazines related to adventure.
Aaroshi, a student of the National Academy For Learning who wants to pursue literature at Oxford, often hears that the city her mother grew up in was slower, greener, cleaner, friendlier and cooler. Aaroshi expressed her concern-
“Every Bengalurean discusses the need to ‘save’ Bengaluru. Ever so often, that topic seems to bear no meaning other than to serve as just that-a discussion point at forums! We have had the government implement a whole range of plans at a macro-level to solve the city’s problems-a few have worked, but most haven’t.” Aaroshi believes that the solution lies in implementing plans at a micro-level- at an individual residence level. She suggests that ideas must be managed by micro-governments, local NGOs and support groups, subsequently replicating and scaling up their success stories.
Aaroshi feels that there is an urgent need to conserve natural resources, to save water and build zero energy structures. She recommends that the BWSSB water meters be used to monitor the water consumed by each household. In her mind, while rationing of water is a good idea, penalising households who use excess water will go a long way in curbing Bengaluru’s water shortage.
A student of National Public School, this aspiring neurologist is concerned about the lack of hygiene in Bengaluru. People who, without thought, casually spit, urinate and dispose of garbage on the roads and pavements irk Mahima.
“Due to the unscientific disposal of waste, pollution levels have risen to unprecedented levels in Bengaluru. With emissions from automobiles and factories, air pollution has also become a serious threat. Pollution is putting lives at risk,” she states, concerned.
Mahima recommends carpooling and using public transport as far as possible. Controlling emissions from factories should be made mandatory and all industries should be made accountable, added Mahima.
A master storyteller trying to open the city’s eyes
Thanks to Aparna, a Master in English, a Kathalaya-certified storyteller and founder of Timbuktoo, the young voices of today are being heard. What better way to catch the pulse of our younger generation, who are the future of Bengaluru and India?
A Bengaluru resident for twenty years, Aparna holds each citizen of the city responsible for its ruin. By being mere bystanders, each one of us is only adding to the city’s degeneration. Disturbed by the complete disregard of civic duty, Aparna said-
“How much further can we abuse a host and home – suffocate in fumes, pollute with garbage, deafen with noise pollution and cut off lung spaces – a violation at so many levels. In this, we are faced by government apathy even as Bengaluru burns. First, heaps of garbage lie everywhere despite garbage segregation orders – where is the waste disposal process for the city? Imagine the putrefaction during rains and water logging. Look at the monstrosity going by the name of Varthur Lake and the lurking poison and disease in that quagmire. Despite dengue taking lives, the BBMP’s lethargy is appalling.”
Aparna asked, “Can we bring back the garden to the city?” She pointed out how glass and concrete have not only done away with precious trees, but depleted Bengaluru’s neighbourhoods of character. Aparna firmly believes that urban planning and management should be corporatised, as the finest minds are in industry and not politics. She is of the opinion that restoring Bengaluru will have to be a collective effort. Aparna suggests that the government appoint corporates in city planning-companies adopt separate neighbourhoods. A designated ‘neighbourhood watch’ must take up security, garbage disposal, cleanliness and traffic discipline agendas for their respective neighbourhoods. Families must work together to plant trees. Hiring independent, privatised organisations for waste collection and disposal is another way forward, feels Aparna. Social media and the media at large should play a role in naming and shaming neighbourhoods that are non-compliant.
“German engineering has done much for our International Airport. Why not hire international talent for the rest of the city while preserving the character of old neighbourhoods? Study the best practices. Many countries have areas where commercial complexes cannot be constructed, trees cannot be cut for real estate development and heritage homes and trees must be preserved. This must be laid down by law. Let’s not be mute witnesses anymore. Why be culpable when we can take up cudgels?” Aparna signed off.
Mamatha, Aaroshi and Mahima represent a generation who carry the potential of turning the exasperating situation around. But they are also the generation which will be directly impacted by our actions of today. Let’s get together and help these youngsters save Bengaluru, for Bengaluru and for them.