Whose health ?

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THE road runs wide through the extended city of Greater Mumbai, till, just before it enters the same city, it narrows into a street, meanders and twists reluctantly past posh homes, leaning balconies, where liveried residents, inside air-conditioned flats grimace disdainfully as they peer at traffic jams below, causing exhaust fumes to float past their permanently shut windows. “Cough! Cough!” they politely splutter, if ever the same windows slip open and polluted fumes rush in.

And below, where the road meanders and twists, passengers choke and struggle for air, as deadly fumes gently nudge them not closer to earthly home, but to Hades, the abode of death. “We’ll build a flyover that will take you from the sea-link straight to the city!” said the worried government a few years ago. “Thank..(cough)..you!” spluttered the grateful motorists below.

“No thank you!” said the residents behind their closed windows, “We don’t want you to look in, while you drive!” “But they’ll drive so fast, they won’t look in!” assured the government.

“We don’t want to look out and see them!” sniffed the residents. “Please go ahead!” spluttered the motorists, as they coughed their pleas into the government’s suddenly deaf ears. For on the same road, lived singers of repute, and men and women with money power and government’s ear who whispered sternly, “No flyover! Not over our beloved Peddar Road!”

And no flyover was built. But as the traffic grows worse, the jams increase, now again, the government wakes up and says, “We will build a coastal road for you poor suffering motorists!” “Thank you!” whisper the men and women in their cars below. “No scream!” same people behind closed windows, “No coastal road!” “Why?” asks the government.

“It will spoil our view of the sea!” say the people, “From our kitchen windows!” “Look over our cars, and see the sea!” whisper the tired people below. “View a bluer ocean with no pollution!” says the government hopefully. “No!” say the people, “It is not environmentally friendly!”

And the people below, who reach home, two, sometimes three hours late, often after their families have fallen asleep, who splutter and cough as their vehicles spout deadly fumes onto others in other cars, are puzzled and wonder what environment friendliness these people are talking about.

“Whose road is it?” cry the people, “Ours, the people who use it and are dying because of it, or those, who live by it?” And similarly, throughout our country, we, with clout and power, selfishly, oppose roads and railway lines, thinking only about ourselves, while people below die a slow death..!

 

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