Millennium Post

Destroying nature, one state at a time

Whether it’s playing havoc with the life-traditions of ‘protected’ adivasis, or working against the natural ecological balance leading up to major environmental degradation, our government, both at the state levels and that at the centre, is neck-deep in mud. It’s as if the serial ecological disasters that have been striking the subcontinent with a fearsome regularity have not had any effect on the ill-conceived policies of the various ministries under the ambit of respective governments, who have been blindly promoting the corporate lobbies and their environmentally suicidal projects. Despite spending reams of newsprint on how catastrophic the heedless concoction of reckless, unchecked urbanisation and the misguided faith industry has been for the delicate hills of Uttarakhand, the state government has done nothing to halt the mining activities on the wildlife-rich Gola riverbed, a hot corridor of tertiary and gravely endangered animals such as tigers and elephants. Incredibly enough, the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) decided to disregard the persistent warnings from the national green tribunal (NGT) and gave away more than 1,497 hectares of land along the riverbed for mining of sand, boulders and other minerals for ten years to the Uttarakhand Forest Development Corporation (UFDC), giving the state authority approvals both in principle and in procedure to carry out the thoughtless activities. How can the state government and the MoEF overrule the myriad consequences of such actions, given that collection of minor minerals from the Gola riverbed endangers the animals living in the wildlife migratory corridor, polluting and disturbing the sensitive environmental checks and balances but also, with over 10,000 trucks and heavy vehicles plying on the road, acting as a direct life-threat to the animals and critically affecting the health of the local population.

If the reckless and unscrupulous mining projects are allowed to continue, not only will this spell doom for huge swathes of these delicate zones, but would result in mass extinctions of a number of subcontinental and migratory species. Already, unchecked urbanization has been encroaching into tribal life-traditions of protected adivasis such as the Jarawa tribe in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Even a hundred years back, the Jarawas were living a life unsullied since the pre-historic times, with practically no contact from global civilisation and its rapidly changing realities and its intrusive technological expansion. But now, reports have been seeping in of how Jarawa women are being raped, sexually exploited and the privacy of the tribe invaded upon by repeated encroachments from city-dwelling people from the mainland. It is a pity that although we try to ape the developed countries of the western hemisphere in every possible way, we ignore them where it matters most. We neglect their scrupulously uncompromising stance on safeguarding their environment and protecting heritage. It is a shame that we are such ‘unthinking students.’
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