By Kritika Dagar
Modi Sarkar is going easy on environmental clearances, bringing cheers from the industry. But it is going to hit us hard.
According to a UN report, India is one of the worst hit countries by weather and climate related disasters. In near future, due to global warming these are expected to increase. Have a look at the effects of some policies of the government:
- The River Regulation Zone policy has not been approved yet. This policy will keep out industries from riverbanks. That industries pollute river water, is not the only reason they should be kept out. The policy is crucial as when the fertile floodplains of rivers are taken up by concrete buildings, the river water does not have space to spread during monsoons. This leads to flooding in the area.
The worst flood tragedies seen in Uttarakhand and Jammu & Kashmir were in fact due to such encroachments on river banks.
- The Second Airport at Navi Mumbai has received a green nod under Modi government after 13 years of waiting. The project requires clearing of several hectares of mangrove forests, not only on site but also off site, to prevent birds from nesting in areas near the airport and altering the course of two rivers. All this just for some compensatory afforestation by the company. Mangrove forests act as bio-shields of the coastlines, protecting coastal areas from submerging and reducing the impact of tsunamis/cyclones.
According to a UN report about 40 million Indians will be at risk from rising sea levels by 2050, with people in Mumbai and Kolkata having the maximum exposure to coastal flooding due to rapid urbanisation and economic growth.
- Dibang Dam is one of the several dam projects approved by the government in a bid to make Arunachal Pradesh India’s power generator, despite rejection from Ministry of Environment & Forest experts.
Remember Narmada dam? Well, Dibang is going to be bigger. In fact, the biggest in India! About 5000 hectare areas of forest would be wiped out and thousands of people would be displaced. This is a huge threat to the mega biodiversity hotspot the state is. Experts say the dam is not worth it. But it was cleared anyway. This is at a time when several countries in Europe are in the reverse process- of removing dams- as the costs of maintenance outweigh the hydro-dollars they generate.
- Non-Forest Activities in Aravalis have been allowed by Haryana CM, as if there wasn’t already enough illegal mining and construction going on in the Aravalis. Haryana CM, Khattar, has proposed to increase the non-forest activities allowed in the Aravalis from the current bar of 0.5% of the area. Increasing leopard sightings in the posh areas of Gurgaon point towards the dangers of destroying the habitat of the wild cats. In man-animal conflicts, man is always the loser.
Apart from this, I wonder what would be the quality of air we would get to breathe in Delhi NCR, if more of the Aravalis are destroyed?
The trend of going easy on environment in pursuit of growth started during the UPA rule and has further intensified under Modi government. But I feel the so called tradeoff between environment and growth is a myopic view of the matters, especially today. We can no longer fool ourselves into thinking that environmental governance of the country affects only the birds, animals and the rural poor living near the forests.
Environment and Development should always look over each other’s shoulders. But it is going the other way.
(Image Source: Google Images)
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