#CleanEnvironmentOurBirthRight - #DontSpreadPoisonInAmritKaal

#CleanEnvironmentOurBirthRight - #DontSpreadPoisonInAmritKaal

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NatConnect Foundation started this petition to Shri Narendra Modi (Prime Minister of India)

“Man’s paradise is on earth; this living world is the beloved place of all; It has the blessings of nature’s bounties; live in a lovely spirit”. – Atharva Veda.

While the scriptures have taught us the importance of nature and environment in more than one way, The Constitution of India also enshrines similar values.

For instance, Article 48A of The Constitution Of India says “Protection and improvement of environment and safeguarding of forests and wild life The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country.”

That is the State’s responsibility. Similarly, the document also lays down our responsibilities as citizens. Let’s see what Article 51-A (g), says: “It shall be duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures.”

Then we have the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 that very clearly says: “environment includes water, air and land and the interrelationship which exists among and between air, water and land and human beings, other living creatures, plants, micro-organism and property”.

A feature circulated by the Union Government’s publicity arm, the Press Information Bureau (PIB), says, “Right to environment is also a right without which development of an individual and realisation of his or her full potential shall not be possible. Articles 21, 14 and 19 of this part have been used for environmental protection.”

COVID has taught us many lessons, most importantly the inseparable link between health and environment. Right to a healthy environment is an important attribute of the right to live with human dignity. The right to live in a healthy environment as part of Article 21 of the Constitution was first recognized in the case of Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra vs. State, AIR 1988 SC 2187 (Popularly known as Dehradun Quarrying Case). 

The PIB article reminds us that At local and village level also, Panchayats have been empowered under the constitution to take measures such as soil conservation, water management, forestry and protection of the environment and promotion of ecological aspects.

In this backdrop, we, the environmental groups, appeal to the government on the occasion of the Republic Day – when we gave ourselves the most important document called the Constitution – to uphold the rights in letter and spirit. In the same breath, we are keen that the citizens too realise their rights and more than that their responsibilities.

Hence, this campaign: #CleanEnvironmentOurBirthRight.

Clean environment does not mean just clean air and water. It is also means ensuring a clean environment for our flora and fauna and thus protecting and conserving our biodiversity which nature has given us and continues to give.

Clean water is not just about cleaning the rivers under campaigns such as Namami Gange drive, but to conserve everything that is associated with water – the innumerable wetlands. Isn't it a paradox that while launching projects such as 75 lakes per district in this 75th year of Independence, we do not care about the existing 2,50,000 wetlands identified by none other than the ISRO?

Yes, our wetlands are in danger and we have been losing them to human greed – greed on part of even government owned city planners in this mindless race for urbanisation. 

Speaking at the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP 15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at Montreal, Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav has stressed for “mindful and deliberate utilization, instead of mindless and destructive consumption to conserve the global biodiversity.” While we are good at making such global statements, we conveniently forget the stark realities at home.  There are many cases of the infrastructure projects playing with nature – from power and irrigation projects in the lap of the Himalayas to destruction of mangroves and wetlands in Mumbai Metropolitan region to uprooting of hills and trees for roads and airports. What is even more shocking is the fact that government-owned companies like NTPC and CIDCO of Maharashtra indulge in this disastrous game of playing with nature with immunity.

The development on the hills across the country has been going on dangerously in a haphazard manner with no controls and checks. We therefore request for a full-fledged Hill Regulation Authority on the lines of Coastal Zone Management Authorities to avert Chardham and Joshimath type disasters. 

The Prime Minister takes pride, rightly so, in referring to the current Amrit Kaal – the 75th anniversary of the Independence. He must also pay attention to the environmental destruction during this Amrit Kaal. One pertinent question that the PM and his Cabinet colleagues, and all Chief Ministers, should ask themselves if we are spreading poison by taking a heavy toll on the environment with our speedy infrastructure projects? Over a lakh tree have been uprooted for the Mumbai-Nagpur Samruddhi Mahamarg. Many more thousands of trees are being cut in the name of many other infrastructure projects. It is a very well-known fact that that the survival rate of transplanted trees is less than 50%. The net result is that we lose fully grown trees for our infrastructure projects whether we cut them totally or transplant them. 

We have not learnt any lessons from COVID. We have been forced to spend money like water for oxygen plants while we destroyed out natural oxygen plants – the trees.

We love to give big talk about mangroves, again on global platforms.

Speaking at the launch of the Mangrove Alliance for Climate (MAC) at COP27 at Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt, Yadav said:  “We feel that the integration of mangroves into the national REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) programmes are the need of the hour.” But at home, how much do we care for mangroves? The Ahmedabad-Mumbai Bullet Train project will see chopping of 22,000 mangroves.  While taking permissions for mangrove diversion (which actually is nothing but destruction), we promise the courts that we shall plant three times the destroyed mangrove plants. Experience in MMR – particularly in Uran - has clearly shown that mangroves do not require any replantation. All that you have to do is to just leave intertidal water flow and mangroves grown on their own, without any human intervention.  

There is another major issue with these permissions for cutting of trees or mangrove forests. There is an absolute absence of an audit system. There is no authority which verifies if the trees or mangrove plants cut tally with the approved numbers by courts or the regulatory bodies.

We need that audit system.

Enforcing the Environment Act is a major challenge. All depends on the police investigation reports and FIRs. We suggest an altogether separate machinery such as a dedicated Green Police and fast-track courts to deal with environmental crimes. This is absolutely essential to free the police force from the burden of environmental issues and allow them to handle the IPC nr CrPC matters.

Finally, we require total transparency in executing environmental policies and an absolute accountability on part of the people in-charge.

Officers and politicians in decision making positions often go scot free for their short-sighted decisions ignoring the environmental aspects. Whether it is about allowing construction in landslide prone Joshimath or low-lying Uran or scrapping river regulation zone leading to floods in MMR. These officers and politicians must be brought to book wherever they go for their past crimes – just as the proverbial long arm of the law catches thieves and murderers even after years of the particular crime.

To sum up, all that we ask for is clean environment and protection and conservation of our biodiversity for which we need:

1.     Dedicated National and State level Green Police 

2.     Hill Regulation Authority

3.     Fast Rack Environment Courts to justice to mother nature

4.     Total transparency and accountability on part of the authorities in-charge of environment.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely

B N KUMAR – NatConnect Foundation


NANDAKUMAR PAWAR – Sagar Shakti (Marine division of Vanashakti)

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