Showing posts with label environment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label environment. Show all posts

Thursday, July 11, 2013

India’s TERI Gets Ranked By ICCG As The World’s Best Institution In The Field Of Climate Change Studies

New Delhi-based TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute) has been ranked by the International Centre for Climate Governance as the world’s best institution in the field of climate change study. 

This is just one of the various developments that highlight TERI's quality, level and standard as a research institution in the field of environment and climate studies.

In fact there is nothing to get surprised with this elevation that is enjoyed by TERI. After all it is led by a towering personality like Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, the Chairperson of Nobel Peace Prize winner Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). With such a person at its helm, it is little wonder that TERI has become such a prominent organization in its field. 

TERI personifies India’s sincerity in studying the global climate problem and addressing the same, and also reflects our country’s ability to achieve this objective.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

MP Govt. Admits Involvement Of Forest Staff In Tiger Poaching At Panna

Poachers involved in the killings of tigers at Madhya Pradesh’s Panna Tiger Reserve enjoy support and co-operation from the very people who are supposed to protect those amazing animals from them – the forest staff.

This painful (but probably not very shocking) fact came to light after the state government was forced to share a report submitted to it in January 2011 by the Filed Director, Panna Tiger Reserve. The government was forced to share the report after an application to that effect was filed by RTI activist Ajay Dubey.

Hopefully the state government will take necessary steps to ensure that Panna does not experience what happened to Sariska. And yes, will the government now accept the Central Government’s proposal for a CBI enquiry into the matter?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Achieving 33 Per Cent Green Cover Is Impossible For India – Jairam Ramesh

Are you an Indian “green enthusiast” eagerly awaiting the day when the Indian government will be successful in realizing its target of bringing 33 per cent of Indian ground under green cover or forest cover?

Well, in that case it is time you heaved a sigh of pain.

The Environment & Forests Minister Mr. Jairam Ramesh has been very candid in saying that the Indian government’s aim to achieve 33 per cent green cover for India is impossible. Reason? Well, mainly two factors are playing the spoil sport – the size of the population and the developmental issues.

Mr. Ramesh has said that instead of running after the elusive goal, it is better India focuses on retaining the 21 per cent forest cover that it enjoys at present.

Interestingly, Mr. Ramesh has also admitted that 40 per cent of that 21 per cent forest cover is open and degraded land, and is not exactly worthy of being called “forest”.

Mr. Ramesh’s acceptance of the harsh fact might have broken many of our hearts. But it is better we appreciate his honesty, and wish and encourage him that he manages to retain and nourish the 21 per cent forest cover enjoyed by our beautiful motherland.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Uttarakhand Government’s Blatant Violation Of Indian Forests Protection Act

Uttarakhand’s Lachchiwala reserve forest area is witnessing shameless felling of lush green trees, with the number of felled trees having already crossed 300.

And this massacre of trees is being done at the behest of the state government itself. Reason? Well, it is being done for the development of a herbal garden that will be spread over 5 acres of the forest area. In fact, this herbal garden initiative is reportedly a dream project of the Uttarakhand Chief Minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank.

Unfortunately, the state government has completely overlooked (or given a damn to) this fact that this mindless felling of trees of kukat, kher, semal, sheesham, silver oak and kaju has completely violated the Indian Forests Protection Act of 1927.

Is the Uttarakhand government being run by ministers and bureaucrats who are not adequately aware of the laws of the country? Or is it so that they give a damn to those laws that cross the path of their own ideas and ideologies?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Let’s Ban Diesel Vehicles In And Around The Himalayan Region

The ongoing climate negotiations in Cancun have brought back into focus the debate that whether soot or “black carbon” is contributing to global warming, and having adverse impact on the health of Himalayan glaciers.

Indian Minister of Environment & Forest Mr. Jairam Ramesh has understandably opposed the developed countries’ attempt to include the “black carbon” issue in the main framework of the climate negotiations. It is quite evident that the developed countries have raised this issue to divert attention from their own drawbacks as far as addressing the greenhouse gases emission is concerned. Besides, Mr. Ramesh has rightly pointed out that India’s “black carbon” emission percentage is too negligible to create any serious impact on the environment.

Moreover, it is practically impossible for the Indian government, at least till near future, to restraint certain soot producing practices like burning of wood or cow dung. The poor people of India who are into these practices cannot overnight be provided with any affordable alternative. It is a practical problem that the government of India cannot wish away.

However, if there are reports of soot posing a threat to Himalayan glaciers, then the same cannot be completely ignored. And I feel that the government of India can take at least one step in that regard, which is banning of one soot producing practice in and around the Himalayan region. And the soot producing practice that I am referring to is the use of diesel vehicles.

I know that the government cannot overnight ban the use of diesel vehicles in that region. But it can certainly be done in a phased manner. Initially the government can at least try to restraint the use of such vehicles in that area. Then, slowly but gradually it can go for complete ban.

Of course there are some factors that will hinder the implementation of any such step. One such factor is the inevitable rise in the transport cost in that area if there is a complete shift to petrol vehicles from diesel vehicles. However, hopefully the government will be able to address that as well, through ways like subsidies, etc.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

High Tourist Influx In The Corbett National Park – A Boon Or Bane?

The high tourist influx in the Corbett National Park – which has the highest tiger density in India in terms of per square km. of forest area – has resulted in a sort of face-off between the Union Environment and Forest Minister Mr. Jairam Ramesh and the state government of Uttarakhand (i.e. the state where the National Park is located).

Ramesh has requested the Uttarakhand government to restrain the inflow of tourist vehicles into the Park, as he feels that it is hampering the conservation of the Park’s tiger population. In the last year the Park reportedly witnessed the visit of more than 2 lakhs of tourists, with a daily average of around 400 tourists.

Ramesh has opined that the huge inflow of tourist vehicles has caused a huge air and noise pollution. And that in turn has resulted in a significant stress for the tigers. A key point made by Ramesh is that the noise pollution resulting from vehicular movements has adversely affected the breeding of the tigers of the Park.

However, the Uttarakhand government is in no mood to accept these observations. It has strongly claimed that the tourist influx has been kept within the permissible limits, and so no fresh restriction can be issued. The state government has also highlighted the fact the livelihoods of a huge chuck of the local population is dependent on the tourists, and putting a restraint on the tourist influx will also threaten the livelihood options of those locals.

What I feel, as a layman, is that the issue must be analyzed and evaluated purely from the sustainability angle, instead of letting any political face-off coming in the way.

Tourism is undoubtedly a crucial issue, as it ushers in a huge revenue for the government, thus enriching the latter’s coffer to a great extent. However, at the same time we can not wish away the issue of conservation. In fact, we must remember that negligence towards conservation can ultimately threaten the existence of the National Park itself, thus resulting in a threat for the very tourism business for which the conservation issue was ignored.

The Uttarakhand government has said that livelihoods of a huge chuck of the local population is dependent on tourist inflow, and that is one key reason why that inflow cannot be restrained. A good point indeed. But the state government must remember that if unrestrained tourist influx robs the Park of its tiger population (as it assumedly happened in the case of Sariska), then the tourists will stop coming here. And then it is that very livelihood of the local population that will be at stake, right?

Let me just give you an example in this respect. Suppose there is a milking cow at my home, which gives a substantial quantity of milk, thus addressing all the milk related requirements of my family. Now, shall I maintain some self-restraint while milking her every morning, so that my demand is fulfilled and the cow is also not forced to overdo herself? Or shall I squeeze her for so much milk everyday, that she ultimately falls ill and becomes permanently unable to give any milk at all? You will certainly want me to go for the first option, right? Similarly, our hunger for tourism-generated revenue must not “enthuse” us to squeeze a spot so much that it eventually runs out of the very “tourist attractions” that it is known for.

So I feel that the state and the central government should jointly set up an independent committee, comprising relevant technocrats including Eco-tourism experts. Let them conduct an independent study to decide whether the tourist inflow in any National Park (and not only in the Corbett) is within the permissible limit or more than that. Let them first make a list of all those sanctuaries and national parks which are witnessing significant tourist inflows, and then make the study. They can either evaluate the sanctuaries and parks one by one, or can study all of them simultaneously by dividing themselves into various teams.

There must be a balance in our approach to tourism and conservation, wherein we should appreciate the importance of both of them. And this balance of approach should be reflected in the ground management, wherein tourism should be allowed up to the level it does not threat conservation, and not beyond it. Basically the concept that I am referring to is “Sustainable Tourism” – a buzzword in today’s world.

And it is precisely the job of the Eco-tourism experts, i.e. maintaining the right balance between tourism and conservation. So it is they who are best qualified to oversee such issues, and not the political masters.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Need Of The Time – Environmental Diplomats

There was a time when a country’s diplomats were mainly focused on political and military relationships with other countries, like pitching for either military co-operation (for example in a case of a possible war with another country) or voice of support on international podia while discussing an international issue (for example the Kashmir issue for India and Pakistan).

Yes, bilateral trade and commerce also played a crucial role in diplomatic negotiations. In fact, that aspect of diplomatic negotiation has been there for several hundreds of years. The Consulates of a country (like the US and British Consulates located in various Indian cities) are actually focused on fostering business prospects of their country in the “host country”.

However, the liberalization and globalization of the world resulted in the emergence of a special breed of diplomats, named “Economic Diplomats”. They are the diplomats exclusively focused on all the economic aspects of diplomacy and foreign relations, such as pitching for funds and aids from international organizations (WTO, IMF, etc.), identifying their respective countries’ business opportunities in other countries and charting out necessary roadmaps to tap the same, etc. Economic diplomacy is now a specialized wing of Statecraft, with almost every nation having a pool of expert Economic Diplomats.

The emergence of Economic Diplomats was the result of the dynamic character of Diplomacy, which is understandably very receptive to the changes in world affairs. And it is this dynamic characteristic of Diplomacy that is today signaling the need of another specialized wing of Diplomacy – Environmental Diplomacy.

The global warming has become a hot issue, highlighting the necessity to reduce greenhouse gas emission. This has subsequently resulted in a “national compulsion” for every country to explain its stand/problem/view on climate change and emission issues. And this has further resulted in the need to develop a pool of efficient and expert Environmental Diplomats, who are able to present their respective countries’ views on international podia.

And I suppose that India is at least somewhat lagging behind on this score. I think this came into light during the recent Copenhagen Summit, where the India delegation was sometimes failing to present its views effectively (though of course there were stiff and shameless opposition from the developed nations). I also feel that India failed to develop a united stand with other like-minded developing nations, thereby creating a strong pressure on the developed nations.

And the reason behind India’s not-so-effective Environmental Diplomacy is probably the Indian government is not precisely considering the domain expertise while selecting its Environmental Diplomats. There have been a number of IFS and IAS officers who are responsible for defending India’s environmental views and policies on the international arena. Unfortunately, many of them are not that expert in the field as they are supposed to be to effectively executive their responsibility.

Just one example is enough to establish that the Indian government has been unnecessarily biased to the bureaucratic community while choosing “members” of its Environmental Diplomacy team. Who is our Chief Climate Negotiator? Mr. Shyam Saran, our former Foreign Secretary.

There is no doubt that Mr Saran is a brilliant and talented person, who unarguably deserves crucial positions in the Government. But does he hold that level of expertise in Climate Change issues, which our Chief Climate Negotiator is expected to have? Well, I do not think I am sure.

I hope the Indian government is aware of the fact that Environmental Diplomacy is a specialized wing that should be handled only by people with strong domain expertise and skills. And I hope that the government is working towards the development of a well-qualified team that will be successful in defending our environmental views and policies on the international arena.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Effective Implementation of Plastic Bag Ban

Despite a ban on its use in India, plastic bag is very much in use in India. One of my colleagues from Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh is claiming that the ban is very much successful in that state. May be. But that the ban has been not that effective at least in Delhi that is very much established.

Fine. But why are people, mainly the shopkeepers, so unwilling to follow the ban? Is it merely a callous attitude towards the cause of environment? No! We all know that the actual reason is something different.

Actually, all the alternatives for plastic bag, such as jute bag, cotton bag and paper bag are more costly than plastic bag. Using any of such bags in the place of plastic bag will be quite a costly affair for shopkeepers. And it is this factor that is keeping them away from saying good-bye to plastic bag.

So what is the way out? Well, I have a suggestion, if nobody finds it audacious and over-smart. And I also tell in advance that my suggestion may be based on completely faulty and/or impractical logic. In that case I apologize in advance.

Is it very difficult for the Government to subsidize the production of jute and cotton bags? Subsidization will understandably bring down their production costs, eventually reducing their market price as well. And in that case it will be easier for shopkeepers to replace plastic bags with these bags.

Yes, this act of subsidization will result in a financial pressure on the Government. And I also have a suggestion about how to address it (and again I must say that my suggestion can be wrong).

If shopkeepers gradually stop purchasing plastic bags, then the manufacturers of plastic bags will automatically stop or reduce production of such bags, right? And that will eventually result in a significant reduction of CO2 emission, as plastic bag manufacturing results in a huge CO2 emission.

Now, can the Indian Government use this achievement of causing emission reduction to earn some Carbon Credits (the economic allowance that a country earns for reducing greenhouse gas emissions)? And can that economic allowance be used to address the financial pressure that the Government will face while subsidizing the jute and cotton bag manufacturing?

I have just sought to share an idea that came in my mind. I will love everybody to share his views on it.