Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Tiger Conservation: It is Development That Counts

Environmental Overview

India is on the threshold of becoming an economically developed Nation on Earth. One among the few who rule the Earth. The sordid saga of reckless developmental spree of those already at the helm is narrated without mentioning the large scale damage done to the local environment and plundering of crucial natural resources embedded in Mother Earth.

Development in terms of economy and infrastructure are the yardstick which denotes success of ruling dispensations in India and elsewhere. In the country the narrative is on upswing with most of the discussion centred around growth and development.

Do we state the growth indices without keeping an eye on the amount of destruction we are causing? A highly developed India could burden the coming generations to clear the environmental debt that we leave in the wake. Should not we be concerned? 

Development is imperative but not without paying heed to environmental concerns some of which may appear trivial but could have a major negative impact in time to come.

In India, the worry lies in the large scale destruction of our remaining natural lands and ill conceived usage of  our natural resources.

India is a signatory to Convention of Biological Diversity a multilateral treaty for preservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of resources and sharing of genetic resources in a fair and equitable manner.

Another landmark that was legislated in the year nineteen seventy two was the Wildlife Protection Act. The creation of protected areas was within the purview of this Act...and so a home and protection was accorded to all life forms in the country. The 1988 Forest Policy lays strong focus on conservation while other acts for Environment Protection  was passed in the year 1986 and subsequently the Foreign Act 1992 for regulating International trade in biodiversity elements.   

The country has a number of regulatory bodies that  govern actions that oversee future implications of ongoing or planned processes.  The Hon. Supreme Court of India plays an active role on environmental issues by presenting its own interpretation and hence through its directives it influences policies that contain environmental concerns. The aim of the highest courts through intervention in governance area is to redress the failures of Government and other regulatory bodies in discharging their Constitutional and statutory obligations. There are proponents and critics as regards Hon. Supreme Courts interjection in these matters but albeit this is an entirely different matter the courts interjection is seen in positive light by many.   

It should be noted that a large number of PILs regarding myriads of environmental issues has been filed by Ngos and individuals thus exhibiting faith in the judiciary as whole

The Government Ministry MOEF

Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change is pan India mother of all institutions that is concerned with environment, forests and climate change. It is prime body that issues statutory order in case of environmental clearances hence is the most important element that could impact the environment and associated wilderness in multiple ways. 

It is responsible for providing clearances and impact assessment, as well it governs the National Parks of India. It overseas forest policies and programmes implementation in the country. It is also a nodal agency for many International conventions and programmes affecting India.  The Ministry has multifarious roles but the crux of bringing this into picture is that it can bar or give a goahead to controversial exploitation of resources through mining, exploitation and development of remaining natural lands and the related issues.

In short MOEF a ministerial body is the face of the ruling dispensation, obviously through MOEF it can accord direction to actions concerning our environment conservation strategy.

Our Concerns & The Tiger & Human Centric Policies 

The concern that dominates the conservation circles is quick appraisal of permission granted for mining, land acquisition for developmental projects, dissecting habitats like forests for roads and other related projects.

This is the crux of conservation practices in India wherein policies that disregards environmental concerns can be hastened through to promote perceived developmental and infrastructure benefits. On many instances whence development projects are seen as imperative clearances are granted without a second thought. Concerns for habitats and the consecutive impact on prevailing ecosystems takes a back set.     

It is required that governance should be very cautious towards activities that degrade crucial habitats and eventually are environmental hazards. These habitats support ecosystems or complex web of life that of the critically endangered species Bengal tiger as well as other life forms struggling to survive in the country. This also means the imperatives are looked into from the perspective of the highest offices in India. For developmental projects alternatives present should come into picture.

Shortage of space for endangered species like tigers is obvious and land use pattern should be looked into. A large chunk of forest, grassland and river habitats have been lost to reckless venture into agriculture in earlier times. A more productive agrarian practices should be developed and encouraged which utilise less expanses of land. This also applies to industrial practices and rapidly expanding settlements especially in our urban areas.   

It is quite a matter of concern that increase in tiger population would also require increase in inviolate protected areas if we have to preserve the animal that is a matter of our National Pride. This calls for equitable and fair translocation policies. Since certain areas will be required to clear of human habitations in order to reduce man animal conflict (elephant migration) and accord home to locally endangered species. (Similarly the Lion should be trans-located to suitable habitats which have been developed in recent times.)

Tiger: Pic Uday Patel 
The Great Mahatma 

When Mahatma Gandhi conceived of Ram Rajya he was not being rightist or denying secular credentials as many construed.  With emphasis on non violence and cottage industry he certainly had an approach towards development that would be been highly concerned about the environment issues. That would have meant a paradigm shift from the Western Style of development we are recklessly emulating.

Perhaps he could have found answers to our woes? He was down to Earth, simple and would not have been influenced by vote banks of India. 

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