Corporatizing environment

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 10/5/2019 11:39:57 AM IST

 Currently, the battle between environment and development has been highlighted by the Aarey forest issue which has pitched environment activists on one side against the government and Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited(MMRC) over the construction of proposed car waiting shed for the Mumbai Metro-3. Aarey forest is part of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, and supports an entire ecosystem of its own, with a rich biodiversity. An ecosystem like it takes hundreds of years to build up, and cannot be re-planted over night. The Bombay High Court, dismissed several petitions against felling of over 2700 trees and also rejected another petition to declare the area as a forest. The state government had earlier stated that every greenery cannot be termed as forest. The site where the car shed is coming up is in an area where the Mithi river swells before it finds its course through some of the busiest parts of the city. This area is also home to some rare species and leopards and felling down thousands of trees will deprive many animals of their shelter and natural habitat. Instead of looking at the issue through a prism of balancing both environment and development, it is unfortunate that those who are against the car shed coming up at Aarey colony are being portrayed as Enemies of Development (even enemies of the state) who want Mumbaikars to continue suffering harrowing commutes. For over three years now, environmentalists from various organisations, along with activists, students and citizens, have been putting up a tough fight to protect Aarey forest and safeguard their future. However, now these green crusaders have been barred from entering the location where the work for the metro car shed has already begun. Environmental activists say they are not opposed to the expansion of the metro in Mumbai, but an ecologically sensitive area like Aarey forest, which functions are the largest natural air purifier for the city, cannot be cleared for the metro car shed. They say that there are plenty of non-residential, and industrial locations for the metro car shed to be constructed - but, not at the cost of Mumbai’s lungs. The MMRCL went ahead without waiting for the National Green Tribunal to pass its verdict on declaring Aarey as a forest. In the environment vs. development debate, what is forgotten is that natural capital -forests, rivers, land- provide ecosystem services, without which humans as a species would not survive. Though in theory, the Modi government claims it is committed to protection of the environment, but in practice it is in high gear with its for development agenda. Everyone seems to agree on is that the environment, forests and wildlife have got the short end of the stick. Almost all the green laws are in the process of being subverted or completely rewritten to make way for industry. Statutory bodies like the national board for wildlife and forest advisory committee have undergone severe dental surgery and are left with no teeth. There is an opportunity to redefine the global notion of development, one that is not based on expanding levels of consumption, but genuinely improves the quality of people’s lives without destroying the environment. However, it’s not going to be easy. India Inc funds almost all the political parties, and the world’s largest democracy is fighting to stop the slide towards a corporatocracy.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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