As our cities grow larger and larger, we experience increasing congestion on roads. We experience increasing difficulties with regular water supply and it is almost understood that we can’t trust the municipal water to drink water from the tap.
We watch overflowing waste. We watch or streams and rivers turning into sewers. We watch our open spaces morph into taller and taller buildings with glass and metal. We watch more air-conditioners jut out of buildings, as the city gets warmer and warmer.
We watch our city getting paved with concrete. We watch the trees disappear as they fall to the concrete and the roads and buildings take their place…
Some of us assume that someone is in charge. Since someone is in charge, they must deal with all of this, shouldn’t they? Maybe we need to change those who have been put in charge, some of us think. Others declare that we lack infrastructure. We compare ourselves with cities elsewhere in the world. We need more funds, we need more infrastructure, we declare.
Some of us simply label the changes in our cities as progress. By doing so, we need to take no action, we can resign ourselves the direction and momentum of change.
Either way we become increasingly indifferent. We increasingly exclude ourselves from participation. We even resign and declare ourselves helpless.
Every day, however, many ordinary citizens show how their little extra makes extraordinary difference over the short now.
Many ordinary citizens, for example, have joined the single ordinary citizen who planted the single tree and protected it. Others simply responded to threats to the beautiful trees in their neighbourhood by being willing to reason with those who allowed their short term interests to destroy the short now for everyone.
That simple act has made all the difference.
Many hills, some roads and some campuses have transformed themselves, slowly but definitely. Their efforts have resulted in green hills, beautiful avenues lined with trees, lower temperatures in those neighbourhoods and increased bio-diversity.
Their efforts have resulted in the best neighbourhoods in their cities. Their efforts have protected the open spaces, decongested their roads and even ensured that they are not magnets of waste accumulation. Their efforts have increased the ground water table. Their efforts are making the happiest neighbourhoods in their cities.
These citizens stopped being indifferent. They included themselves in making change happen. They participated. They refused to feel helpless.
Many of these ordinary citizens have been empowered by the Maharashtra (Urban) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act of 1975. This Act was a response to the growing pace of urbanisation and industrialisation that has resulted in indiscriminate felling of large number of trees in the urban areas.
This Act is meant to preserve and protect trees. This Act requires every road, waterbody, hill, open plot and even private property to have a certain density of trees.
With global warming threatening to make life difficult, this individual act is what will make a difference in our short now. Can you save one tree every time you see it threatened? Can you ensure one road, on stream or one open plot has at least as many trees as required by the Protection and Preservation of Trees Act? Can you educate at least one person at every opportunity about their power to make a difference?
Our actions in the short term, accumulate impact over the short now, the life-time of a child born today or a 100 years. Don’t underestimate your power.
He can be reached @AnupamSaraph