Sunday, November 1, 2020

Environmentally corrected development

We are seeing a lot changes being brought about under the banner of so-called development in our state. Be it infrastructural layout, technological adaptations, electricity generation, urbanization or any other developmental aspect; on every front we have improved, but each of such activities has also brought serious degradation of one kind or the other. As developmental dimensions are varied, their environmental impacts are also diverse in nature and magnitude. Lush green forests have been cleared for agricultural, infrastructural, constructional and number of other purposes. The Dhansiri River in Dimapur is being used as sinks for wastes. It has receded to less than half of its areas and encroachments are widening on all sides. Air and water pollutions are on a regular rise in our towns. Vehicular pollution is no less significant. The ongoing four-lane Dimapur-Kohima highway construction and the proposed two-lane roads will pave the way for the removal of leftover treasure of biodiversity across the state. Besides, with spreading urbanization, health and sanitation problems will abound. We are aware that development is nothing but improving the welfare of people and raising their living standard. It is achieved through the processes of interactions between various economic, political, cultural, environmental and social elements. Industrialization, urbanization, technological advancement, increased productivity, infrastructural layouts, improved facilities, etc are considered the indicators as well as the tools of economic development. Industrial revolution of 18th century and the technological advancement thereafter has proved to be a boon for the entire humanity. It not only made man’s life much comfortable but changed the pace and style of human life altogether. The relationship between the environment and development is reciprocal in nature. There are profound impacts on environment due to developmental processes and there are certain environmental factors involved in development. In fact development is but exploration and exploitation of environmental resources. Without proper, perfect and efficient use of environmental resources, economic development is not possible. However, the accelerating pace of development has resulted in increased pressure on environmental resources. This pressure on environmental resources, including air, water and land resources has resulted in pollution of water, air and land. The resulting environmental degradation is not in itself a serious problem facing mankind but also hamper the process of development as the latter heavily rely on quality environment. Moreover, if the environmental quality deteriorates, it will not lead to improvement of welfare of people because environmental quality in itself forms a part of improvement of welfare which is the aim of development. This disguises the sole objective of the development. In the present scenario every developmental activity is accompanied by serious environmental degradation. Pollution is a gift of industrial revolution and excessive use of natural resources may lead to their complete shortage. This in turn may lead to a stage when human existence may get threatened as they derive all their sustenance from a quality environment and not from a disguised one. No doubt development is as essential as any other life-sustaining activity, and natural resources are meant to be explored and exploited. If they are not accessible for man’s use, they need no more be called as resources. But environmental safety is equally (or perhaps more) important. The challenge is to find out developmental paths and models which are environmentally safe and sustainable. Future generations must not inherit pollution and resources depletion but instead enjoy the fruits of development. For maximizing the human welfare we have to set environmental priorities along with developmental priorities in our state. Environmental gains cannot be measured as they do not provide direct income and tangible wealth. But they cannot be ignored because the aim of both the priorities is human welfare. Need of the hour is, therefore, to integrate the environmental considerations with the process of development. For every proposed developmental action, environmental impact assessment should be carried out well in advance. We have to formulate new strategies of development, at social, cultural and political levels that are environmentally safer and economically viable. Such an environmentally corrected development will certainly lead to the welfare of people.