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India Votes – at the cost to the environment ?

09 Mar

A view from Davos: climate change action snowballs at the World Economic Forum, Paul Simpson, CEO

Davos! Big debates, big brains, big names,” announced the United Nation Environment Programme’s Executive Director Achim Steiner during the World Economic Forum (WEF). The annual event united 2,500 delegates from over 100 countries for four days in the picturesque Swiss mountain resort of Davos to discuss and debate a range of global issues. Climate change was high on the agenda with no fewer than 23 dedicated sessions, reflecting the latest WEF report findings that four of the 10 biggest risks to the global economy are linked to climate change. Of these four risks, water crises was ranked the highest in the group, placing it third overall behind the risk of financial crises to key economies and high structural unemployment. (Read more)

The opening remarks in the report by Klaus Schwab,Founder and Executive Chairman,World Economic Forum quite clearly indicates that those who are in the know are afraid. Terribly so, on the impacts of climate change. The havoc it would be creating, each disaster more intense in scale and periodicity.

Our lives are changing at an unprecedented pace. Transformational shifts in our economic, environmental, geopolitical, societal and technological systems offer unparalleled opportunities, but the interconnections among them also imply enhanced systemic risks. Stakeholders from across business, government and civil society face an evolving imperative in understanding and managing emerging global risks which, by definition, respect no national boundaries.
Conceptual models are needed to define, characterize and measure the potential negative impacts of interconnected global risks. It is in this spirit that I present the Global Risks 2014 report, now in its ninth edition….

The Global Risks 2014 report highlights how global risks are not only interconnected but also have systemic impacts. To manage global risks effectively and build resilience to their impacts, better efforts are needed to understand, measure and foresee the evolution of interdependencies between risks, supplementing traditional risk-management tools with new concepts designed for uncertain environments. If global risks are not effectively addressed, their social, economic and political fallouts could be far-reaching, as exemplified by the continuing impacts of the financial crisis of 2007-2008. (WEF_GlobalRisks_Report_2014).

The latest Howard Hughes Medical Institute report, researchers show that rising temperatures can cause spread of malaria to areas where the disease had not been endemic historically. Their analysis showed that the distribution of malaria cases shifted to higher elevations in warmer years. When temperatures cooled, the distribution of cases retreated to lower elevations.Furthermore, individuals living in regions where they have not previously been exposed to malaria are more vulnerable than those in endemic regions, who have often acquired immunity from prior infections to help fight off severe disease. (Read more).

On the face value, the above report would not hold much currency for the casual reader, especially in the warm tropical region such as India. But it actually holds a very grave message which should not be ignored especially by the political establishment who have in the run up to the elections making mistakes which would have great repercussions.

The days are not far, when in the guise to save the planet. A country would wage war over another. And the war need not be military. An economic embargo during this fragile socio-economic time would be enough to pull a country to its knees.

By showing Mumbai, the intention is to draw attention to the country as a whole. As a megalopolis Mumbai, New Delhi and other large cities are fast becoming city-states while towns in India are growing in a rapid rate to become mega-cities. While one should always vote for development the catch word should be sustainable development which at the very least remembers that Humans are not the only stake-holders in this planet but are cohabitants. A subset of an ecosystem which needs to flourish as equally as the human desire for prosperity and comfort.

A snapshot of Mumbai

The ills that behests this city is microcosm of this Nation. For Mumbai has all the ingredients which is not easily found in many city-states around the World. Nowhere to my knowledge one can find a large reserve forest; the Sanjay Gandhi National park, where big cats roam. Bang in the middle of a megalopolis we have the ancient monuments, the lakes and rivers, the sea and the mountains. A diverse ecosystem that is packaged into a very small area. And thus the effects of destruction to each habitat can be studied all at once.

Below are some of the most recent ill- developments in Mumbai.

NAVI MUMBAI: Mangroves are being burnt, destroyed and encroached upon in various parts of the city. But Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) Task Force for Navi Mumbai, comprising top civic, police and government officials, is sitting idle on the notification issued by the state environment department to safeguard mangroves from being further butchered. This inaction is pushing the satellite city into eco-sensitive zone. It is learnt that the task force has never met since its formation on November 22, 2011, to decide the fate of the mangroves. B B Nayak, TNN | Jan 17, 2014, 12.16AM IST

MUMBAI: Congress ministers are not enthused about the proposal to ‘legalize’ illegal structures across the state. A proposal has been made to legalise illegal structures in Thane through the cluster redevelopment model, with a floor space index of 4. There is a similar demand to legalise illegal structures in Kalyan-Dombivli and Pimpri-Chinchwad as well. Thane district is estimated to have at least five lakh illegal constructions.Congress ministers are not in favour of legalising the blatantly illegal structures. “Where is the rule of law? If the government starts legalising structures that have come up without any permission then the message we send across is that ‘it is alright to do so’. What happens to those who follow the law?” said a minister opposed to the proposal. Another minister said if the government approves the proposal, it would give a handy stick to the Aam Aadmi Party. “Those responsible, whether officials, architects or builders are never penalised and there is no deterrent not to break the law,” he said. TNN | Feb 25, 2014, 06.24 AM IST

MUMBAI: The civic body has issued notices to 1,200 societies in the eastern suburbs for not segregating garbage recently. Now, the civic body has left citizens with no excuse to not segregate waste generated in their housing societies. In an attempt to ensure 100% segregation of waste, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation(BMC) issued notices to 1200 housing societies in eastern suburbs on Monday, refusing to accept mixed waste. Linah Baliga,TNN | Mar 5, 2014, 05.47 AM IST

MUMBAI: In a city struggling to keep its coastal greenery alive, around 10 acres of mangroves and wetlands on a plot near Eastern Express Highway have been allegedly systematically destroyed over 10 years, and converted into a regular grassy land feeding on sewage water. The last trace of 25 mangroves on the land, which is right on the highway near Vikhroli-Kanjurmarg junction, was reportedly erased a fortnight ago when “unidentified” people chopped and dried them using chemicals. The land belongs to a private entity, but due to the presence of mangroves and salt pans, it falls under the Coastal Regulation Zone and qualifies as a “protected area”. Two years ago, Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) recommended reclassification of the land citing an “error” in the coastal zone maps. Chinmayi Shalya,TNN | Nov 30, 2013, 01.23 AM IST.

MUMBAI: The ministry of environment and forest (MoEF), Delhi has refused a state government proposal to regularize 500 buildings, already built without the permission of the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai.The proposal, forwarded by the state, had recommended collection of penalties from the developers involved before regularizing their constructions. The buildings are situated in the coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) areas and the builders, in the absence of knowledge of CRZ reservations, had gone ahead with the construction without prior permission from the MCZMA. Chittaranjan Tembhekar,TNN | Dec 12, 2013, 12.21 AM IST

In India’s run up to elections opportunism is ruling the roost. And in-spite of a court order, petty politics is being played yet again. In Indian politics, rule of law is perhaps the last thing that matters. In fact it has been proven again and yet again that the illegal can always be legalized for a few votes more. A shocking report –

Wrong appeasement can never bring “El Dorado” to any party. It only opens the floodgate for more wrongdoing which in time spirals out of control and thus anarchy takes over.

“The Global Risks 2014 report highlights how global risks are not only interconnected but also have systemic impacts….If global risks are not effectively addressed, their social, economic and political fallouts could be far-reaching, as exemplified by the continuing impacts of the financial crisis of 2007-2008….”

One should not forget real politic. And in the World political  arena,  India stands at a lame “developing Nation” slot. With a weak and now perhaps corruption infested defence preparedness. Therefore our politicians should very carefully weigh their options before continuing with their political brinkmanship.

The developed Nations sooner than later would understand that with their continued flirting with Nature, which continues unabated even today; their only hope for salvation would be to limit environmental damage in the developing and under-developed Nations.

It is perhaps one of the most fantastic tool for World dominion, whilst being called a Messiah !

And our politicians are falling right into that trap. By providing the very fodder which super-powers seek to exploit.

It is not too late for Indian politics to mature. We are a vast country with large land-mass. If politicians become visionary and statesmen they can provide better housing, water, sanitation and food security to all.

Instead of legalizing the illegal, they should legislate to develop the city fringes and provide world class connectivity, citizens can live in places further than the present centre of Mumbai and yet be able to enjoy a sustainable life-style within that cluster. And travel comfortably & fast to different parts within the city to enrich their social lives. And by doing this the Indian political class can take India to its rightful place in the World hierarchy as a prosperous and wealthy Nation.

But if the Nations wealth (the environment), is destroyed for petty short-term riches & political gains, the resultant Climate change would make India comparable to many impoverished African countries.

A weak Nation would not stand a chance in front of those who wish to wage either an economic or military war with the country….

And it is the duty of the political parties to understand this simple yet profound truth. For we are once again entrusting the Nations future in their hands.

 
 

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