The Development Versus Environment Debate Will Always Keep Festering!

  • The modern-day necessities dictate several developmental requirements for the governments concerned is a well-documented issue that always raises the heckles of proactive environmentalists bringing out their red flags in no time. As you are aware, the life expectancy of human beings has improved dramatically over the years with the mind-boggling advancement in the field of medicine. Consequently, the present-day governments are forced to extend dynamically emerging amenities in line with the aspirations of society.  Of course, every country and its citizens would aspire to be counted amongst the best in the world vis-à-vis living standards made available.

PC: Kirstin Spence

  • No harm in seeking every accessible marvel of evolving modernity but the problem lies with the way environmental concerns are simply disregarded leading to unabated exploitation of the environment. We all know how deforestation, environmental degradation, carbon emissions, fossil fuel exploitation, pollution, and some such harmful endeavors have rendered our beautiful planet vulnerable to unforeseen weather vagaries.  The resultant outcome is quite devastating and duly experienced by all of us in one or the other form.  It’s an extremely challenging task for the governments to essay a fine balancing act of ensuring demands of the present day are adequately met but also espouse environmental responsibilities without indulging in careless exploitation in the same vein.
  • However, the experience so far suggests that every country worth its salt have been barely successful in addressing the concerns in more holistic, pragmatic, and organic ways. The Indian government too has made all the right noises but challenges do remain on several fronts.  Nonetheless, every matter of importance that does reach the portals of the Supreme Court for final adjudication in India is also a concern.  As such, a recent Supreme Court judgment did strike a blow for durable economic development in a state denuded of almost all its forest cover.  Yes, I am referring to the Aravalli ranges facing deforestation from surrounding states.

PC: Jeri Curley

  • The legal core of the verdict is that all land in Haryana covered under the Punjab Land Preservation Act will be treated as forest land. In practical terms, it gives a chance to save something of the Aravalli range, one of the oldest mountain blocks in the world and the barrier against desertification of India’s breadbasket.  Hopefully, this ruling will end decades of reckless destruction of the landscape.  Indeed, this verdict is in harmony with the tone of almost three decades of jurisprudence on the Aravalli range, a key feature of the National Capital Region.  Three states that have areas folded into NCR viz. Haryana, Rajasthan, and UP have a forest cover significantly lower than the national average of 21.7%.
  • Worryingly, Haryana is the lowest at 3.6%. Thus, the verdict should end the false debate of development versus environment.  Remember, they are intertwined and need to be nurtured together for progress.  The growth versus environment approach to policy that has guided successive governments can be distilled down to actions that benefit a sliver of the real estate sector.  Hopefully, after this SC ruling, the environmentally crucial Aravalli will have a sporting chance of survival.