Drone View of Bhopal
Drone View of Bhopal

On humanity has gone, destroying nature. So, she set up a bed for herself to rest on. And the bed has been the long-haul lockdown. Mother Nature has compelled human beings to let her sleep in peace for a while.

The lockdown has lessened air, water and noise pollution. Leviticus 25 says: For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of Sabbath rest, a Sabbath to the Lord.

This has also been the opinion of environmentalists and scientists in the Bhopal.

On the World Environment Day when the Free Press talked to them they said the lockdown was a boon to Mother Nature.

This year’s theme for the day is very different from the earlier ones. The theme is biodiversity – a concern that is both urgent and existential.

They said nature needs rest. Human beings have afflicted her a lot. So it has been her time to teach humanity a lesson. And Mother Nature has just done that. Excerpts:

Subhash C Pandey, environmentalist

Corona-induced lockdown has brought about a dramatic improvement in air quality and somewhat moderate improvement in water quality, says Subhash Pandey. He says he had personally measured air quality in the city and found that in the second week of May, the atmosphere was as clean as it is in the Himalayas. “The pollution levels were one-fifth of the normal,” he said. The quality of water in the Upper and Lower Lakes has not much improved because of untreated flow of sewage water into them. Lack of anthropogenic activities did bring about a marginal change but that was that, he said. According to Pandey, the corona crisis has made it clear how fragile human beings are. “We have all seen how a microscopic organism can wreak havoc in the world. The moral of the story is: we should respect nature, he said.

RS Kori, Director (Environment), MP Pollution Control Board

Why can’t humanity decide to put the world under lock and key for 15 days every year? RS Kori wants to know. He says that the suspension of industrial and construction activities and vehicular traffic during the lockdown brought the air quality index in the city in the good-satisfactory range. The lockdown has taught us we can keep pollution levels in check by controlling our activities, he said. Pollution, he said, was as dangerous as any disease-causing virus or bacteria. Look at it like this. The coronovirus can ruin your lungs in 15 days. Uncontrolled air pollution would do it in 20 years but the final outcome would be the same, he explained. Kori said after the end of the lockdown, we can try to keep the pollution levels low by simple means such as sharing vehicles and ensuring that roads are in a good condition.

Mohammed Khalique, co-coordinator wildlife Crime Control Bureau and ornithologist

Mohammed Khalique said birds, animals and butterflies were undisturbed in two months of lockdown, because factories were closed and fewer vehicles were on roads. So, the lockdown period was good for biodiversity, he said. According to reports of Traffic India Organization, the cases of hunting and poaching in forest areas across the country including MP have increased during the lockdown, he said. And the number of such incidents is four in the state, he said. Every person should learn from the lockdown that if human beings stay away from disturbing nature biodiversity will remain intact. If people are more aware more about nature, there is no need of any lockdown, he said.

Manoj Kumar Sharma, scientist in-charge, Regional Museum of Natural History, Bhopal

This is the right time to work for nature and to celebrate biodiversity, said Manoj Kumar Sharma. He says all kinds of pollution -- water, air and noise – were reduced during the lockdown. It helped to enrich biodiversity. He says water is a source of aquatic biodiversity and all the water resources have become clean due to closure of factories and fewer vehicles on roads. So the movement of aquatic animals has become smooth. They could be easily seen, he said. The movements of wildlife animals have also become smooth in forest areas in absence of disturbance, he said.

Prof. Vinoy Kumar Shrivastava, head of Bioscience department, Barkatullah University

Prof Vinoy says a virus is active in a particular temperature. But this rule does not apply to the coronavirus. It remains active in high and low temperatures. So, it is a big problem, he said. It is difficult to say when the world will get rid of it. Everyone is waiting for vaccine. He says the impact of Coiv-19 is not much on biodiversity, because people remained indoors during the lockdown. But from environment point of view, it has changed a lot, he said. It has purified the environment, he said. Some people have begun to say there should lockdown once or twice a month, he said.

Zeeshan Khan, founder, Plastic Donation Centre

The lockdown has provided the much-needed rest to nature. The wounds that humans have inflicted on her have healed to some extent. The sky has been clear. One could see the stars. There was freshness in the air. But, we will soon be back to where we were, he said. We can try to make some changes. For instance we can decide to generate lesser mount of waste; we can start using electric vehicles and so on, he said. He emphasises on the need for proper disposal of masks and hand gloves.

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