Source: The Hitavada      Date: 25 Feb 2018 10:38:14


The environment is a growingly worrisome issue that several countries are grappling to address effectively. The environment is a deep and expansive sphere that needs immense commitment, experience, expertise, innovation and money.

PRIME Minister Narendra Modi recently reiterated that India was committed to protecting the environment and was doing everything required for it. At the same time, he also said that India expected others also to fulfill their commitments towards environment protection.

“India believes in growth but is also committed to protecting the environment,” he said at the World Sustainable Development Summit. India was on track to meet the 2030 Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), he said. In an encouraging development, The National Geographic Greendex Report of 2014, which assesses the environmental sustainability of consumer choice, recently ranked India at the top for greenest consumption pattern, he said. Discussing the goal of creating a carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030, Prime Minister Modi said it had once seemed difficult to many but India had continued with its steady progress on that path. According to the UNEP Gap Report, India is on track to meet its Copenhagen Pledge of reducing the emissions intensity of its GDP by 20 to 25 per cent over 2005 levels by 2020.

As part of India’s engagement with environmental sustainability measures the PM also raised concerns about the issue of water availability and asserted his commitment to ensuring that no farm went without water. Action frameworks to resolve some of the most urgent challenges facing developing economies in the backdrop of climate change has to be drawn up at the earliest. The environment is a growingly worrisome issue that several countries are grappling to address effectively. The environment is a deep and expansive sphere that needs immense commitment, experience, expertise, innovation
and money.

And at the stage that today we are in, efforts towards environment protection need constant engagement and sustained monitoring so that the priority is not lost. India ranks poorly in global health and pollution indices and the country needs some urgent and drastic measures to set things right. There are multiple concerns that plague the country and put the future of millions at stake. There is water scarcity, there is farm crisis, and there are air and water pollution of an excessive kind among other things that keep the nation unhealthy and poor. We are also not any generously exposed to alternate energy options to run our cars and houses.

Beginnings have been made and the direction envisaged by the Government is right but the need is to expedite processes. For one, we are already late in making the best and extensive use of sustainable and renewable energy sources. Clean fuel for most practical purposes is still a far cry. Second, we are a rapidly growing population and more than that a rapidly growing industrial nation.

The little gains we make in cleaning our environment is offset by rapid vehicular population and infrastructure growth. People’s growing needs are getting so intense that resources are always falling short. Unless we have alternatives in hand and those are made the best use of, we are going to perish. Many of our problems are global problems which are affecting many countries and we can take cues from how they are tackling their growing crises.
Handling global environmental concerns need global co-operation and understanding. Eventually it is a question of survival of the planet. There should be better scientific engagement and resource sharing for effective solutions towards a healthier environment.

Countries must not go back in their commitments and should abide by the treaties they sign and promises they make to make their environments better. Leaders keep on squabbling on lesser issues and miss the big picture, forgetting that we are running out of time. Rather than focusing on what could not be done, the target should be to locate things that could be made possible. If the temperament is right and so is the willingness, anything is possible. Unfortunately, leaders are still myopic in furthering their own narrow short-term requirements and keep taking populist measures to keep their people in good humour.

No one is ready to take any drastic measure that could polarise people. Perhaps, India will show the way, though India has her own share of problems in switching to cleaner fuel and energy options. One is the multiple financial implications such measures would lead to. India is a vast, diverse and poor country where any major change in any sector can pose problems to millions, from livelihood to human rights issues. Moreover, the level of our scientific and innovative spirit is still not right in sync with our realities and the availability of our financial and logistic resources, which leads to project delays and misdirected priorities. For these reasons, we falter and fail to take the lead.

The possibilities the country offers and the urgency of the need to go more environment-friendly is so pressing that we cannot sit back and take our own sweet time. Even if any major innovation or establishment means cost escalation at present, in the long run, the right measures are only going to save money and lives. Solar, wind and tidal energy sources need to be tapped efficiently and to their full potential so that we could minimise our dependence on coal and other fuel-based technology.

We are very positive about shifting to an e-vehicle era and making our railway’s diesel locomotive free by massive electrification but as long as we continue to produce electricity in coal-based thermal power plants, we would be ending up Doing more harm to the environment than helping it. There are various other options and steps to be taken like mandating green buildings in cities, taking up massive plantation drives across urban areas and introducing water conservation and harvesting facilities in public buildings.

We need a multi-pronged approach rather than wait scouting for a one-stop solution to all the ills. Little measures in a big country like India can make for a humungous cumulative productivity. Not all our acts need huge money. What we need more are awareness and willingness. We need alertness, transparency, involvement and interest. We need sensitivity, creativity, sacrifice and moral concern for our society and humanity. Unless we as individuals inculcate and instill these basic humanitarian values in society, no one can save us.

The Government cannot guide us with stick and carrot in every small thing we do. But the smallest acts of ours in day to day life, if done with wisdom and thought, can take us a long way in safeguarding our immediate environment and serve the larger interests of humanity. If we help ourselves, the whole universe will conspire to help us succeed. Inaction, complacency and procrastination have no place in the progress of civilisation.

Had our forefathers and ancestors not toiled in sweat and blood for centuries, we would not have a comfortable life we are enjoying today. By the way, it is the fruit of their actions and vision that we are enjoying today. Doesn’t it bear upon us to do the same and ensure a happy living for our future generations?