A study conducted by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) on environment in river cities including Cuttack focussing on perceptions, awareness and behaviour of people towards climate change revealed that environmental indicators have deteriorated over the past five years and sewage water is a major threat to the river.
Ninety per cent of the respondents covered by the survey at Cuttack felt that climate change has had a direct impact on them and 99 per cent of them held the view that quality of environment impacts human health in a big way. The changes in the climate, they said, were due to increased human activity.
TERI surveyed seven river cities Delhi on river Yamuna, Cuttack on river Mahanadi, Dibrugarh on river Brahmaputra, Jabalpur on river Narmada, Surat on river Tapti, Varanasi on river Ganga, and Vijayawada on river Krishna.
Releasing the findings, Dr Leena Srivastava, Acting Director-General,TERI said “People’s perceptions may ormaynotreflectreality;but they do reflect their confidence levels in governments, their engagement with common cause issues and their daily fears.“
Mr Shri Prakash, Distinguished Fellow, TERI said “The report clearly brings out the deep concern of people for saving environment irrespective of age, income level and educational standard. Also, the successive annual environmental surveys indicate a growing majority of the people who believe that the development and environment protection should be given equal emphasis and not pitted against each other.”
The survey said 54 per cent of the respondents felt that the overall quality of water in the river was poor while 80 per cent perceived that the odour in the areas surrounding the river had worsened over the last five years.
Asked who was responsible, 53 per cent people pointed fingers at the local government/municipal corporation. Eighty five per cent of respondents felt that there had been an increase in the amount of industrial waste dumped into the river in the last one year and a majority of the people said industrial effluents were not treated as per government norms before being discharged into the river.
Majority of the residents said indicators such as tree cover/green cover in the area, number of birdspecies and insects in the city, and air quality had worsened.
As many as 96 per cent of the people said that temperature had increased and 72 per cent felt that rainfall had decreased over the last five years in Cuttack. 98 per cent of the respondents felt that the frequency of extreme weather events (flood, droughts, and rainfall) has increased in the past five years.
Significantly, 41 per cent of the respondents were not aware about the existence of any government policy/legislation for water conservation. 28 per cent and 35 per cent, respectively, of the respondents said they were not aware of government policies/legislations on issuesof groundwater usage and climate change.
The survey said 87 per cent of the respondents felt that water-borne diseases (diarrhoea, jaundice and cholera) were mostly attributed to poor environmental quality, followed by other diseases namely, skin diseases (allergies and skin cancer) identified by 76 per cent of respondents, and respiratory illness (asthma and lung cancer)noted by 57 per cent.