Election Waste, Pollution – A Mounting Problem For Municipalities

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Elections take place after every five years, where different parties and candidates with their respective plans and manifestos contest against each other for public support. These parties make lots of efforts to win and attain or hold power, to do so they plead in front of people, beg for their support and try to convince them. After the voting has taken place, they seem to forget what they had promised out and don’t bother much about the electorate.

Posters and banners during election time

Political parties and candidates hold huge rally’s, paste lots of posters and display large banners here and there, make announcements on loud speakers and play unnecessary loud music on their promotion vehicles which causes all kinds of pollutions.

We are blessed to have the right to choose a fair government for ourselves but it’s a bitter truth that this cycle of noisy and chaotic conduction of election promotions intrudes into our lives. The rally’s conducted on the already crowded roads of Shimla causes big traffic jams and the banners and posters displayed leave behind scars of visual pollution that they deface the beauty of the hill station. The announcements made on loudspeakers definitely annoy normal working of a common man and cause so much of noise pollution. Where all the parties spend lots of time and money to promote themselves, they should use it for a social or a noble cause, but they don’t.

Use of loudspeakers during elections is in vogue. Political parties use high pitch speakers to propagate messages to convince the public. But it only causes serious noise pollution affecting the health of various age groups. After announcing the election dates, candidates from political parties’ and others started their electioneering campaigns by appealing to voters by various modes of communications. They started to use to loud speakers, which were attached to vehicles and were seen moving about near hospitals, schools, and colleges, not for a moment bothering that such blaring loud speakers were very troublesome for patients and students.

Loudspeaker mounted on vehicles are a big cause of rising noise pollution during elections

A human ear is capable of withstanding 35 decibels of sound levels, beyond that it can cause serious damage. But carelessly these parties take the initiative to create high intensity noise regardless about any concerns for the people

During election time there is heavy traffic and traffic is one of the biggest problems that we are facing today in Shimla. And elections only made the situation worse. Party members with their supporters spill onto the roads in a large numbers. using all kinds of vehicles that lead to messy traffic jam. It becomes impossible for the traffic police to clear these jams during election time.

Traffic blockades are routine as part of electioneering campaigns

This problem about traffic management is paid for dearly by the common people. Barring a few roads, most of them in Himachal are single lane roads and it is really difficult to keep the traffic flowing when the electioneering candidates are inconsiderate and hold up traffic at various places. School children, office goers and patients have to suffer much during election time as the school buses, office cars and ambulances often get caught in these traffic jams.

Advertisements and billboards badly displayed in public places are an eyesore, but political hoardings are worse as they are put up anywhere and everywhere. During election time illegal banners and posters are haphazardly put up on trees, sign boards, and public areas – causing visual pollution which defaces public and private property and damages the beauty of the popular tourist township.

Indiscriminate pasting of banners and posters in public places harms the image of city and also damages the environment. Most posters are pasted illegally, without taking permission. There are thousands of illegal posters put up at public and private property. After reading the posters, many of them are pulled down by the people who then throw them to litter up streets, roads and other public places they create air pollution where banners and posters are burnt.

Election waste is a well recognized global problem and it has become a big challenge for municipalities to clean up after every election. It is an issue of national concern and most importantly requires political will & national civic codes and laws along with action through civic movements; public awareness raising & education among the community.

The issue of election waste can be tackled by sensitising the public, the election candidates and the government authorities, which include Election Commission, Municipal Corporations with environmental protection agencies and civil society in containing the mounting problem.

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This article was jointly written by Nandita Raghav, Nidhi Dhiman, Rhythm Gautam, Anchal Pamma and Roman Singh, students of Class XII, St Thomas School, Shimla, as part of an internship program for their Media Studies course. The Photographs for the article are also contributed by the students.

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