- As the population explodes on the back of modernity-defined developments, innovations, inventions, and advancements courtesy of technological prowess, the demands for expansion incommensurate with the growing needs of the aspirational society are bound to place tremendous pressure on the available resources. In the absence of adequate availability of resources, the authorities are also compelled to seek alternative ways to put in place a process to address growing necessities in a scientific manner or an unpopular and unscientific manner as well. Need to expand accommodating citizen’s basic concerns essays a definite role in shaping the policies of authorities which may not be popular or acceptable to a wider audience.
PC: Prakash Mallya
- The urban landscape continues to expand owing to unimaginable advancements in various fields on the back of spectacular inventions that are always embraced with open arms by humanity. Who wishes to see the other way when ease of living standards is perpetually on the upward swing as modernity delivers comfort and luxury much to the delight of humanity? You see, authorities are left with no option but to seek ways to expand resources to accommodate growing demands on the resources. No wonder, when any such initiatives make headlines under the garb of development affecting the environmentally critical natural habitats, expect concerned rights activists and environmentalists to raise red flags sooner than later.
- God forbid if the authorities are found to transgress the accepted norms and policies. Against this backdrop, a startling revelation that in 2020, the standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) approved the diversion of as much as 1792 hectares of wildlife habitat has stirred a hornet’s nest. The data is from a study carried out by the non-profit organization Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE) raising pertinent questions on the matter. The most interesting is how can so much wildlife habitat area be given over to project works in a year when site visits, considered imminently critical for such clearances were severely restricted owing to the pandemic induced restrictions?
- You guessed it right, there are no ready answers here. Further, most of the diversion is for linear projects such as roads, railways, and transmission lines which are essential for expansionist undertakings. However, these diversions also cause direct loss of habitat reducing the landscape’s capacity to sustain the ecology and biodiversity of wildlife. It will impact even the endangered species who thrive in natural habitats without undue disruptions in many eco-sensitive areas. The LIFE study also finds that in some cases diversions were approved without indicating the specific area. Most worryingly, only one project has been rejected in the past three years.
- There is apparent laxity on the part of NBWL which should ideally err on the side of caution when it comes to project clearances. Such a seemingly cavalier attitude in granting approvals to infrastructural projects can have a disproportionately large impact on the natural habitats. Understandably, the concern is not to pit wildlife versus unavoidable infrastructure projects like roads, trains, and electricity. The country needs more of those basic amenities but without sacrificing the natural habitats unscientifically. Thus, the authorities must invent alternative but less disruptive routes for these projects. The Government of India should inform NBWL in no uncertain terms to devise a foolproof mechanism on this basis.