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  Life   More Features  25 Feb 2019  Fading green cover

Fading green cover

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Feb 25, 2019, 4:47 am IST
Updated : Feb 25, 2019, 4:47 am IST

Shouldn’t the governments refrain from allotting green zones for industrial purposes?

Image for representative purpose
 Image for representative purpose

Deforestation is one of the major threats that the planet is facing now. Forests are being cleared extensively, making way for industries. However, a recent NASA study has indicated that earth got greener in the past two decades and interestingly, the change was brought out by two most heavily populated countries in the world – India and China.

Common notion is that populous countries utilise more natural resources. Nevertheless, the NASA study says that India and China are responsible for almost 33 per cent of the planet's greening. This greening effect is due to intensive agriculture practices in the two countries that have in turn increased the average leaf area every year since 2000. However, it is to be noted that the study only looks at the increase or decrease in the green vegetation across the planet and not the overall greenness of a region.

Meanwhile, Gautam Adani’s Adani Enterprises Limited is getting ready to mine a green zone in Chhattisgarh. The mine comes under the largest contiguous stretches of dense forest called Hasdeo Arand – categorised as a ‘no-go’ area for mining – that has an area of around 1,70,000 hectares. Of that, 841.538 hectares of land has been cleared for mining by the Forest Advisory Committee of the Union Environment Ministry.

In view of the NASA study, shouldn’t other countries step in and contribute heavily to the cause? Will such initiatives result in the reduction of global warming? Should there be strict rules to conserve forests? Shouldn’t the State and Central governments refrain from allotting green zones for industrial purposes?

No mining in forests
The allocation of huge parcels of land, rich in biodiversity, for the purpose of mining by the government to large corporations should be strongly condemned. Majority of these mines have severe impact on the quality of water, air and land. Due to mining, the water sources get contaminated leading to reduction in the availability of clean drinking water. It also affects air and land. The destruction of these habitats can lead to many endangered species of flora and fauna getting extinct. The government should show more concern in preserving such large parcels of land that benefit the environment and not destroy them for their personal benefits.

Plant and set aside more forest land
While it is good news that India is contributing to the greenery of the world, it still is slightly challenged in the real sense of forestation. We have more cropland than forest land when compared to the next largest contributor China. We have applied smart ways of farming, good use of water irrigation that has led to this massive change from the 1990’s. But it does not rectify the lack of enough trees, which can only be done via planting more and by identifying and setting aside forest land, apart from conserving our existing forests which are fast depleting given the need for infrastructure. When on one hand we exhibit great responsibility in increasing our green leaf area, we fall short in applying the same forethought when it comes to restricting our dependence on fossil fuels. The granting of stage 1 permission for Adani’s company can perhaps be suspected on governmental or institutional favour back. But how much of scientific research has been disregarded to create this favour needs to be carefully studied. Apart from just the environmental aspect, the future economics of coal mining must also be taken into consideration.

Establish models
Forests support not only wildlife, but also thousands of local communities living in and around them. Therefore, it is important to establish models which demonstrate that local communities and protected areas can co-exist, mutually benefitting from each another. Existing practices, however, could pose a risk as these may be unsustainable.  Moreover, continued and poorly managed human disturbance is likely to destroy forests, affecting natural connectivity between crucial wildlife habitats. As the country makes significant efforts towards conserving its natural heritage, it sometimes becomes counter-productive for the communities living around forests as increased protection of wildlife habitats and nature restr-icts their access to these regions. The government shouldn’t allot green zones for industrial purposes because natural resources need to be protected for the benefit of supporting our ecosystem and saving mankind

Locals must take control
Today, new roads are proposed across farms, through mountains and even through sanctuaries. Neither the government nor people are aware of the limited natural resources available. We have certainly gone overboard exploring without thinking about the future. With every mountain that we break for stones, we are indirectly reducing the amount of moisture it can hold, thereby slowly but steadily affecting rainfall in the region. We also mine deep altering tectonic composition. This later causes tremors even in non-earthquake prone areas. Enough damage has been done already. It's high time we let locals take control of preserving their environment. Planting trees is easy. The problem lies in maintaining them. I hate to imagine forests without local tribes. Rules do exist, but the officials in most cases find it tough to enforce them. Without waiting for the government to take action, people must take the initiative to conserve nature.

Boost forests
The Nasa survey is a very welcome news,  as any form of green cover increase is appreciated and encouraged. However, this should not be taken for granted, as cropped areas will be able to increase green cover alone. It is imperative that natural forests should be increased — both area wise and density wise — as it will not only increase the green cover but also increase the biodiversity, including flora and fauna.

Need to find balance
When we talk about the planet, we mostly talk about ‘Earth’. I can see that NASA’s report is true while looking at my surroundings. Also, India recently received an award from the United Nations for meeting all the targets of maintaining the environment. In the context of State’s or Centre’s responsibility of protecting environment, the Directive

Principals of State Policy in part IV of the Constitution of India are placed. However, economic development is also an essential aspect of the country, wherein the government needs to balance while allocating green zones for industrial purposes.  Apart from government’s responsibility, it is also a duty of every citizen in the country to take care of the environment.

Tags: deforestation