Saturday, February 14, 2009

Punjabi antenna
Hardly any focus on pollution
Randeep Wadehra

Rajesh Inderpall, a senior PTC News correspondent, has collected data on the types of pollutants that have endangered the health and life of people in and around Ludhiana.

Although environmental pollution is a serious issue, it seldom hits media headlines owing to the fact that politics and crime offer juicier stories. The havoc caused by environmental degradation is far more pervasive, debilitating and enduring than any other natural or manmade disaster. Rajesh Inderpall, a lawyer by training and a senior PTC News correspondent, has been meticulously collecting data on the types of pollutants that have endangered the health and life of people in and around Ludhiana. In the second episode of Manchester Vich Failda Zeher—an eloquent and powerful indictment of callous indifference towards environmental issues—we learn of the extent of damage done by heavy metals and carcinogens present in drinking water in Ludhiana and its surrounding villages, thereby increasing the number of cancer patients, physically/mentally challenged newborns, ailing milch cattle and turning green belts into barren fields.

The interviews with environmentalists like Seechewal and various officials show how serious the problem has become. The question is: will this powerful documentary move the authorities concerned to do something concrete on a war footing? Nevertheless, we need more such investigative reports on other aspects of environmental pollution and its consequences. Sound pollution for example.

Readers may recall that last year this column had protested the change in the format of Lok Bani, which had turned it into a sort of public relations platform for Punjab’s ruling dispensation. The good news is that the LB has reverted to its original trenchant self— unerringly focusing on the general urban decay and rural rot wrought by official apathy. The show on Kartarpur revealed another well known but rarely articulated aspect—the citizenry’s poor civic sense.

Aayee Basant Paala Udant on PTC, celebrating the occasion of Basant Panchmi, was much more than a colourful fare. It enumerated the various folklores, folk songs and dances performed on the occasion and showed how the various communities in India and Pakistan celebrate this occasion. The conversational style of the two anchors, Radha and Nirmal, made the show quite interesting.

Finally, white collar crime has established its global credentials. This becomes clear from the fact that cyber crime is becoming increasingly complex and widespread. One is familiar with those emails from the UK, Africa and other parts of the world, declaring one winner of a million dollar lottery or heir to untold riches bequeathed by a rich relative/potentate whose existence one wasn’t even aware of. The sensible would simply delete such mails. But PTC’s investigative report, Hi-tech Jurm, tells us that many people—even educated and presumably well informed—are gullible enough to fall for this trick. The show goes on to reveal other types of cyber crimes, too—hacking of demat accounts, sexual harassment and pornography. Luckily, the police are catching up and quite a few criminals—some of them from the tri-city—have been either arrested or identified. Daljeet’s comprehensive report should help spread public awareness regarding such dangerous cyber tricks.

Meanwhile, Zee Khabran concentrated on the revelations regarding Saji Mohan’s alleged links with the drug mafia across the border and the trafficking he was said to be indulging in— most of the focus being on his tenure in Chandigarh. Interviews with Chandigarh and Punjab’s policemen of all ranks seemed to suggest that Saji was running a drug smuggling network.

TV news bulletins on various channels mostly consist of crime-related incidents happening in different parts of the region. The details are enough to cause depression in the healthiest of minds. Is there really any need for a full-fledged show dedicated to crime? Zee Punjabi thinks so. Every week it telecasts Punjabi Chargesheet that purveys details of crime of every imaginable type. The gory facts and the victims’ laments do no good to one’s peace of mind.