The founder of Jan Ki Baat, Pradip Bhandari, interviewed a concerned citizen of Kanpur about the possibility of cleanliness and health becoming important election issues this time. Cows eating from garbage disposal sites is a common sight in Kanpur. Both garbage disposal and maintenance are either undone or incomplete. The grounds of disposal, too, are chosen arbitrarily. The trend is changing, says the citizen. Although its limited to urban centres and cities, there is an increasing shift in the attitude of people; religion and caste, once the basis of contesting elections in UP, are now gradually being replaced, or atleast butted down the priority scale, by developmental concerns of health, hygiene and cleanliness.
According to a study of 17 cities covered by the National Air Quality Index (NAQI) and released by Greenpeace India on Tuesday, Varanasi and Kanpur, and Lucknow among the six most highly polluted cities. According to National Ambient Air Quality Standards, PM2.5 level in the air in the industrial and residential areas should be 60 micrograms per cubic metres for the 24 hour standard. However, according to continuous air quality monitoring station installed in Kanpur, the average PM2.5 level recorded was 345 micrograms per cubic metre. Besides quality of air, waste management and similar concerns too are rarely featured in the speeches of candidates.
As the citizen so eloquently put: essentially, all manifestos have the same format, it is only the performance and the physical manifestation of the manifesto that matters. Would this year witness a change?