Protect environment for sustainable development

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Dr Banarsi Lal

People across the globe depend greatly on the natural environment for their health and livelihoods. A healthy environment supplies the necessities of life such as food, water and air. It also provides resources for economic growth and the means to fight natural hazards.
We can’t stop breathing but we can do something about the quality of air that we breathe. Every year about 7 million people die prematurely due to air pollution. There is dire need to explore renewable energy and green technologies and improve air quality in cities and regions across the globe. It is estimated that about 92 per cent of the people do not breathe clean air across the global.
Air pollution badly affects the global economy and ground level ozone pollution is expected to reduce staple crop yields by 26 per cent by 2030.There is need to spread the awareness and message among the people to save the environment and planet Earth. We have 7 continents on planet earth. Every human being has only one dream which is to live better, to eat better and to consume better.
But majority of them never care for the environment and planet Earth. Now we are more than 7 billion but we have only one planet to live and survive. We have limited food, limited place and limited shelters. If we keep on using natural resources as we are doing every day, a day will come when our own grand children shall be forced to live homeless with full of hunger. So it’s better to consume the natural resources with care and responsibility.
We should stop the wastage of natural resources and use them according to our need not on our greed. Each of us knows the importance of nature. It consists of all the living beings on the earth, which are mutually interdependent on each other.
But due to the excessive pollution caused by human beings, many species are becoming extinct and the global climate is also changing at a very rapid rate.
The changing climate is inversely affecting our health and also going to give a long term effect on our future generations.
We know that millions of people on the Earth depend on forest for their livelihood. Every living being is dependent on plants and trees. Only the plants and trees can make our food. But, we people are degrading the forests in a rapid rate.
The relationship between development and environment is well established. It has been estimated that by 2030 food production will need to double and industrial output and energy use will increase three times in the world and five times in the developing nations.
This growth can bring the risk of appalling environmental damage. It can also bring with it better environment protection, clean air, water and eradication of poverty. Environment is one of the most important pillars of sustainable development. Environment protection is an essential part of development. Without adequate environment protection, development is useless. Environmental damage affects the present and future human welfare.
It affects human health and reduces agricultural productivity. Some problems are associated with the lack of economic development, inadequate sanitation, clean water and air pollution from biomass burning.
Illegal cutting of forests is a matter of great concern.
The lack of appropriate technology for maximum utilization of the raw materials, low recovery, low budgetary provision for forest operations have all hampered effective management.
As a result fuel wood, timber, pole wood and carving wood are being exploited at unsustainable levels. Ecological degradation of wetlands together with pollution has resulted in the loss of flora and fauna.
The high amount of fertilizers and other inputs required in agriculture for increasing the productivity has led to the degradation of the environment. Despite decades of warning about pollution and efforts to control it, people are still being exposed to toxic pollutants.
Pollution from agricultural land caused by leaching of nitrogen fertilizers has been detected in the ground water in many areas.
In Haryana, for example, some well water is reported to have nitrate concentration ranging from 114 mg /lt to 1800 mg /lt far above the national standard of 45 mg /lt. Government should monitor and implement policies to reduce pollution and environment degradation and to safeguard the natural system that supports renewable resources.
Action should be taken for achieving a sustainable future. The common property resources which are mostly natural resources must be protected for the overall growth of the nation. Such efforts for preserving the natural resources not only lead to optimum utilization of natural resources but also generate more employment for the people.
Sustainable development is focused on any kind of betterment that should not harm the environment so that the well being of future generations is guaranteed and the harmonious relationship environment and development is sustained. Natural resources are the wealth of any nation.
Presently they are facing environmental hazards due to various reasons. The process of sustainable development tries to build social and economic progress satisfying the needs and values of the social groups without foreclosing future options.
A sustainable development process is of dire need. Environmental aspect assumes great significance in growing deforestation, soil erosion, land degradation, water pollution, biodiversity loss and the like which continue to worsen economic development of India. Environmental quality is an integral part of development. Without environmental ethics development is simply undermined.
Rio-Earth Summit (1992) highlights the view that socio-economic development and environment protection are interdependent and mutually reinforcing processes. Recently, the healthy rural environment has encountered divergent environmental hazards as an addition to their existing issues of social and economic hardships. Such threats badly affect the local community which is the impetus behind research for alternative sources such as cultivation in marginal lands.
It constitutes a growing class of environment refugees.
Sustainable development is felt as a necessary intervention to fight against poverty, unemployment and other complicated problems.
Sustainable rural development can promote growth and equity simultaneously and also promote the development of democratic process at the grass root level by creating awareness on social forestry, soil conservation, population control, protection of tanks, rural energy management, biodiversity, popularization of eco-friendly activities etc. Sustainable development on the one hand benefits local people and safeguards the flora and fauna of a particular region on the other.
Environmental issues cannot be solved unless the local people take part in it. Their participation will help in promoting wildlife conservation, afforestation and also in employment generation. Local people skill and manpower are needed to deal with the aftermath of environmental disasters. Afforestation and arresting of deforestation can be carried with the help of local people. Protection of environment is mainly in the hands of the people. It has been studied that people’s participation is the most determining factor of biodiversity conservation.
The participatory approach to environmental protection can be strengthened through the decentralized planning which provides opportunity for the different communities to effectively participate in the environmental activities. We all should understand the present environmental crisis and work out jointly to tackle this awful situation.

(The author is Head, KVK Reasi, SKUAST-J).