Arjun Ram Meghwal
World Environment Day, 2020, marks a special significance for us to act towards improving the individualist connection with nature. Since its inception, humanity is striving to achieve the right balance with nature, from the local to the universal level. Ever-increasing human greed towards utilizing natural resources has resulted in catastrophic outcomes for the entire universe. The menace of Environment pollution and Climate Change is haunting us and forced to expand the horizon of the human mind to adapt the futuristic and holistic approach for presenting a better-shaped environment to the upcoming generations. Lives of living creatures are interlinked with each other and this year’s theme ‘Biodiversity’ is emphasizing to holistically strengthen this linkage. The Nature has an advanced level of capabilities to teach tolerance, to build an amicable relationship with humanity, and it is an apt moment to re-introspect this relationship.
In the environment protection conservation sphere, India has the advantage of a rich repository of cultural values and religious ethos. Vedas & ancient Indian texts have recognized Earth equivalent to Mother. The worshiping of Panchtatva, five elements of nature, i.e., Water, Fire, Sky, Earth & Wind, always remained intrinsic to our activities throughout the generations. Trees, plants, mountains, rivers, and crops are worshipped across the country under various religious beliefs.
Bishnoi Sect & Environmental protection
The Festivals such as Goverdhan Pooja, Chatt Pooja,Tulsi, Aak, Banyan Pooja, Baisakhi, Godavari Pushkaram, Bihu, Rajaparba, Makar Sankranti or Pongal are fundamentally linked to nature and carry the eternal message of protecting and respecting the nature. India is traditionally blessed with six major climatic season i.e. Spring, Summer, Monsoon, Autum, Hemant pre winter & Winter season which have different aspects for educating ourselves to adopting lifestyle suitable with better synchronization with nature. A century back, Great Indian scientist Jagadish Chandra Bose had proved that plants have life & are sensitive to pain and affection as well. Bishnoi sect has propagated the message for animal protection and environmental conservation. It is noteworthy to recall the 1730 Khejadli massacre wherein 363 ladies under the leadership of Amrita Devi Bishnoi sacrificed their lives for the protection of the Khejadli tree. These age-old traditions and customs had built an emotional individualist connection with nature.
Environmental protection is imbibed in Indian values, and the same intent is visible and embraced through our participation in global conventions and treaties. The Basel Convention for controlling the transboundary movement of Hazardous waste, Rotterdam Convention on chemical and pesticide-related international trade, Stockholm convention for protecting human health and the environment from Persistent Organic Pollutants (PoP), Minamata convention for developing global legally binding instrument on mercury, Rio de Janeiro Convention on Biological Diversity, Ramsar convention for conserving wetlands, Vienna Convention for protecting Ozone Layer, Paris agreements to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are essential concern and backbone for our policy measure. ‘Our Common future’- Brundtland Report, 1987 on sustainable development remained guiding document for the world community and India has adopted its measure in steadfast manner. India has been leading the world in its pursuit of enhanced solar energy capacity through International Solar Alliance (ISA). It is notable that just six months back, the countries were preparing to move from the pre-2020 period under Kyoto Protocol to the post-2020 period under Paris Agreement, now the pandemic has altogether changed the rule for post COVID era.
India’s approach for adherence to the principles of Equity and Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capability (CBDR-RC) at the recent UN Climate Change Conference is a testimony for achieving the amicable and sustainable balance between nature and humanity. The more assertive, holistic, and collective actions are need of the hour. The recent incidents of the lacuna of proper human intervention in Vizag gas leakage tragedy and inhumane killing of a pregnant elephant at Malappuram district of Kerala are worrying signs for us. Urgent action and awareness needed for calibrating our efforts so that such incidents doesn’t occur repeatedly. More compassion and kindness needs to be created for human intervention and converting our scattered efforts into the collective strength for boosting the environmentalism sprit for all living beings.
Ek Rat Chand Ke Saath
During the interaction with the students on teachers’ day on 5 September 2014, PM Narendra Modi explained the “Ek Rat Chand Ke Saath” concept on the occasion of full moonlight for establishing a connection with nature by switching off the lights of the houses. He emphasized that “We don’t need to do big things, even such small gestures can make a difference” for bringing us close to nature. Since then, many a time on fullmoon nights, I have personally enjoyed the “Ek Rat Chand Ke Saath” methodology and tried to inculcate the awareness for small individualist actions & sense of responsibility for protecting nature.
India is leaping towards becoming a self-reliant country. The ongoing reform journey and systemic changes under the leadership of Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi are further strengthening the base of self-reliance. It high time to further enhance the efficacy of our Environment Impact assessment tools for integrating the environmental concern with the development process from the initial stage of planning. It is needed to break the institutional silos through leveraging the technological tools and embracing the E-governance mechanism for better coordination and real-time information sharing among all stockholders leading to better decision making. The distribution of natural resources, freshwater, vegetation, flora, fauna, minerals, etc. needs to be measured in real-time based on IoT (Internet of Things) technologies in the public domain.
Progress of the Ganga Rejuvenation
The government’s efforts are fructifying as we are witnessing the progress of the Ganga Rejuvenation and other river cleaning projects, our engineers have successfully stopped the discharge of sewage water from Asia’s oldest drain Sisamau Nala to the Ganga River. Indeed, these are the things to take pride in our collective efforts, but circumstances demand us to strive through the sustained effort and to expand the ambit of action.
In federal Indian set up the environmental measure is being taken under the umbrella of the Ministry of Environment Forest & climate change. Botanical Survey of India, Zoological Survey of India, Forest Survey of India, Wildlife Institute of India(WII), Central Zoo Authorities, National Tiger Conservative Authorities, Wildlife Crime Control Beuaro, Animal Welfare Board of India(AWBI), Central and State Pollution Control Boards, National Afforestation and Eco-Development Board, National Green Tribunal and various other autonomous bodies are actively engaged to implement and monitor the measures for environmental conservation and protection. The Civil Societies, Scientist, environmentalists, Business and Industrialist fraternity, NGOs, and all other stakeholders have a commendable role for the successful implementation of the development plans & adherence to environmental protection measures. The Hazardous Substance Management, Chemical Safety, E-waste Management, Waste to Energy, Solid & Plastic Waste Management plan and other scheme requires active involvement and shared responsibility from institutional to the individual level for all stakeholders.
India is leading the herculean head-on fight against the pandemic and became another case study for the world to rely upon for reshaping their micro strategies. This continuous battle is undoubtedly a strict teacher & world environment day 2020, is the perfect moment to consume maximum learning from this tough educator. It is time to strengthen the individual, local and global efforts by breaking silos and stand unitedly for the cause of environmental protection. The dialogue, debate, the adoption, and sustained implementation of the environment protection measures in our daily lifestyle will provide the most real sense to Environment Day.
Arjun Ram Meghwal, Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Government of India & representing Bikaner in Loksabha.
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