NEW DELHI: Even as elections bring in a bitter season of diatribe, the ecologically sensitive mangroves belt of Sundarbans in West Bengal have united the political class in a rare show of sensitivity towards the threatened natural heritage zone.
On the initiative of the Election Commission’s local poll officer and the district administration, all political parties have agreed to cut out the use of toxic and environmentally polluting substances from their campaign.
This is, perhaps, the first time in India that concern about the environment has brought disparate political parties, otherwise daggers drawn, on the same page. It seems, all candidates and parties have agreed that campaigning in Sundarbans will done in an “eco-friendly’’ manner.
Already an oil spill in the Bangladesh part of the mangrove forest — home to the Royal Bengal tiger and myriad other endangered species of crabs, crocodiles, fishes and birds — and large number of projects have threatened the survival of delicate mangrove forests, intersected by rivers. Parts of Sundarbans spread over 10,000 sq km, the delta which is roughly two-thirds in Bangladesh and one-third in neighbouring India, was listed by UNESCO as world heritage.
What will not be done and has been agreed upon, one of the officials told Express, is that jute and cotton will be used to make banners instead of the cheaper plastic. The candidates and their party workers will also steer clear of plastic cups during tea breaks in the hectic campaign days, and use paper cups.
Also for rallies and door-to-door and other transport-intensive campaigns, the parties have agreed to use LPG-fuelled vehicles and not smoke-guzzling SUVs. Boats are also an option. It is being done both for campaigning as well as voter awareness programmes and training sessions of poll officials.
Second Narada sting on TMC
The West Bengal BJP on Monday revealed another Narada news sting. BJP leader Jaiprakash Majumdar alleged that new videos showed TMC MP from Arambagh Aparupa Poddar alias Afreen Ali accepting cash while former TMC student wing president and general secretary Shankudeb Panda is asking for a stake in fictitious companies.