Dimapur, August 26: If the world is talking of Climate Change and environment protection and India begins its own Clean India campaign, Dimapur is not far behind in pressing for change.
Change is brought through activism and proactive work on the streets, but awareness of environment laws is equally important. At a 2-day Panel Discussions on Environmental Laws and Issues Related to Urban Areas in Mountain States: Focus on Dimapur, held on July 10 & 11, 2018, at the Don Bosco Institute for Development and Leadership, organised by Nagaland Page, there was introspection and defining lines of thought on how people could empower themselves to clean the urban environment.
During the two sessions on July 10, it was discovered that there is a crying need for awareness about environmental laws that people could use to improve their environment but are unaware of.
The Nagaland Municipal Act, 2001 itself is a set of rules, which is not completely implemented. For one, as Dimapur Municipal Council (DMC) Liaison Officer Ganesh Sharma pointed out, it is not an act made for Dimapur but has drawn on the Punjab Municipal Act. “It has 485 Sections,” said Ganesh about its bulkiness.
Social worker, Amba Jamir said that on the one hand one has a platter of laws. “On the other, citizens are unaware,” he said. Magistrate Wonchibeni Patton, who has an in-depth understanding of environmental laws, said that people not only have low understanding of the laws but “People do not want to approach the courts,” she said to a query from panel compere and senior journalist, Bano Haralu.
Patton said people can approach the courts if there is a garbage problem or such issues. She said that Public Interest Litigation is one of the best mechanisms in India. “The Supreme Court has given landmark judgments on the Right to Life,” she said.
But for the Sunrise Colony case in Dimapur, there is little activism from people that has led to action by the courts, felt the panelists. As rivers and nullahs in the commercial hub Dimapur carry the town’s dangerous pollutants, there was unanimity that actions are direly needed to clean up Dimapur.
“People are oblivious of their constitutional rights,” said Better Dimapur’s Kezia Yepthomi. Yepthomi believes people have the power to speak up but that is lacking in Nagaland. “People can ask for what is due to them,” said Yepthomi.
Patton said that both DMC and the district administration can do the needful. But it is commonly found that there is little coordination among agencies. “Agencies would be abdicating their responsibility if they say that they do not have manpower for coordination,” said Jamir. “Nagaland’s Pollution Control Board is virtually defunct,” he said.
DMC’s Ganesh indicated that the Council is toothless and without finances, not to speak of elected representatives.
Haralu concluded that while the panel discussion opened the Pandora’s Box on civic issues, political will would be important to change the scenario.
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(Page News Service)