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Are we ready to change now?

Updated on: 27 May,2024 07:58 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Fiona Fernandez |

Our sutradhaars, Sir Pheroze and Lady Flora debate the recent news where the civic gods have decided to focus on their climate change and environment department

Are we ready to change now?

File pic

Fiona FernandezLady Flora was surprised to see her friend, Sir PM aka Pheroze studiously poring over a few sheets of paper; it was a typewritten one, and as she drew closer, she could hear him read out each word clearly, albeit softly. So as to not startle him, she quietly sat on a chair behind him inside St Thomas Cathedral. It was their summertime adda ever since the mercury levels hit the roof in the city.  She craned her neck to read what was taking all of Sir PM’s attention. Turned out, it was his curriculum vitae (bio data, for the uninitiated)! Unable to contain her surprise, she exclaimed, “Oh my! Pheroze, why are you reading your curriculum vitae?” Sir PM swung around, shocked to hear the familiar voice of his friend from right behind him. “My-y-y Lady! You are early…I was just; actually, I was meaning to tell you about this development,” he uttered, hoping to slowly break the news, and the mystery about the CV. Curious cat that she was, the suspense was killing her. “Hurry up, Pheroze, tell all,” she nudged him.

“I had heard whispers from my khabaris—I mean informers—that my former bosses were planning to establish a separate department to look into the environment, and this dreaded mega concern, climate change. It made me curious. It did have an environment department in the past but this is a full-fledged boost to getting things up and running, A few newspapers have also reported about it. So, I thought, why not throw my hat in the ring? After all, my robust body of work will be a bonus…” Sir PM proudly announced. Lady Flora was secretly impressed with her friend’s initiative and the idea in general, but being the more practical of the two, she interrupted him, “Tell me, Pheroze, what took them so long to get cracking? I mean, wasn’t that traumatic deluge nearly two decades ago?

I strongly believe that should have been the wake-up call for the civic body. Nearly 20 years later, so much damage has already affected the city’s fragile ecosystem; we are experiencing it, and being reminded of it with each passing day during the unbearable summer this year. Remember how the public suffered with worsening air quality levels earlier this year?” she argued, sounding every bit the environmental activist that she secretly wished she could be. Plus, she was already aware of the news, courtesy Gargoyle who had his spies sneak through the content of these files before the news went public. “Is it true that this department will implement the Mumbai Climate Action Plan that was announced back in 2021? They seem to have mulled over implementing that plan, for starters. I hope they mean business. Pheroze. You and I have discussed countless such city-focused improvement schemes and plans floated by your former bosses that haven’t fructified for heaven knows how long,” she pondered, looking a shade worried.

My Lady, I agree with your sense of doubt with this decision, and the unwarranted delay. I am relieved that they’re doing something about it. But another worry is that I hope they can rope in experts like scientists, environmentalists, and especially those who are familiar with this climate change phenomenon in big cities like ours; it’s mighty scary to see how it’s already impacted our city and the suburbs over the past few years,” shared Sir PM. Like his friend, he, too, was genuinely concerned. After all, both had terrible encounters and had to take refuge at the Cathedral during the cyclone that hit the city during the early days of the lockdown. They had stayed up all night then to discuss how cyclones were never part of our coastal weather pattern.

“There has to be a concerted effort, Pheroze. I hope they aren’t waiting for another weather-related catastrophe to hit our island city. Honestly, I am tired when that word “resilient” keeps getting tagged with the Bombaywallah. Enough is enough. Many law and policy makers seem to be living in a fairy-like universe, unaware of the long-term impact that relentless construction activity is having on the city’s sensitive environment. These experts need to draft a practical blueprint to study the current fallout that infrastructure projects have already had on our ecosystem, and execute remedial measures at the earliest. I shudder to imagine what awaits us when the rains arrive due to our now-infamous tag of being ‘the permanently dug-up’ city. Maximum city means maximum inconvenience, no?” she sighed.

Sir PM was hoping he’d get the nod from his former bosses, “I hope they see reason in re-hiring me. After all, I think I can safely call myself an all-round city expert.” Lady Flora patted his shoulder, “Pheroze, they will be foolish to not utilise your expertise and vision. We desperately need Sir PM, Version 2.0 to save the city,” she chuckled. Her friend managed a half-smile, and prayed hard so he could once again play a key role to help his beloved city find its feet amidst the dust and din.

mid-day’s Features Editor Fiona Fernandez relishes the city’s sights, sounds, smells and stones...wherever the ink and the inclination takes her. She tweets @bombayana

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