J&K Eco-Developmental Movement: An Undertaking in Limbo || LIVE IMAGE


Child is the father of the Nation quoted often whenever need arises ,aptly said. Overheard, my granddaughter from the  class 4 th, was conducting   a mock tuition classes over the net the other day. Children these days are confined to four walls in absence of schooling thus dabbling in such like activities. Expressing on cell to someone not to scold for mistake it shall discourage, one learns from mistakes. It was pleasing to hear how wise of a child. These words remind me of an entry penned  in  the  daily diary by  this writer during tenth class .To err is human, no doubt but one who commits the same mistake repeatedly, refuses to learn from it, doesn't deserve Divine Forgiveness. How relevant  it became when  a few mores skeletons tumbled out from the one of the cupboards  of  the Forests department. 

Which makes the Department of Ecology, Environment and Remote Sensing, JK to fall in this category .Who takes for granted  these misadventures  at the cost of the exchequer, hence should have been made to pay .But that is not to be so , the spirit of camaraderie save one and another at the cost of ruining the Environment to the hilt. After 73 years of the post independence, a  simple demand has come up with  fire and fury , that  enough is enough ,no more fooling, leave improvement aside,  just  return in the shame shape  and condition the Forest  which were entrusted to  it to preserve, protect and improve but failed. Fiddling with the Forests got laid bare, in December 1996, when the Supreme Court, went through the status of Indian Forests, by the three judges bench headed by late chief justice J.S. Verma. Until then the Forest Department kept the country in the rosy picture on the deceit. Forest policy enunciates that   the hills in the country should have forest cover 66% and plains 45%, but it was not so, as the status report prepared by the Environment Awareness Forum, NGO,on the direction of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, in the Civil Writ Petition ,No 171/96 title Environment Awareness Forum V/S  J&K & others, which is still  on , rather one of the longest Writ petitions about the Environment under review  in the country or elsewhere . just 12 % of the forest cover that too of very poor quality. Till then all those years before this shocking revelation, the Ministry of Forests were hiding the facts with impunity. When asked by the Apex court about it, fumbling with words was the meek response. Earth, a gift to the mankind to cherish, calls for to protect it and pass it on to our children in as pristine a state as possible. Our children need the earth too! This is not a new concept as Environmentalists make it to believe. Several hundred years ago, poets in Indian Subcontinent had paid tributes to the Earth they cherished. They sang “The ocean in your griddle, your bosom the mountains, Goddess Earth. My obeisance to you, Forgive me for daring to touch you, with my feet.”This remarkable reverence for the Earth is what all of all need to imbibe. With this quintessence background   Greening India was initiated soon after Independence under the movement the Van Mahotsav.

Inaugurated by planting 108 saplings at Rajghat, Delhi in 1950. Thereafter keeping in view the overall day to day needs of the teeming millions, living in far flung rural areas called soul of India. Matter was incorporated in the 4th Five Year Plan (1969-75)  as "harmonious development  on the basis of a comprehensive appraisal of environmental issues." by Prime Minister Smt Indra Gandhi .

To provide teeth to act Article 48A was incorporated   in the constitution in 1977   stating that: "The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country."Thereafter in 1980 Department of Environment was established, turned into the Ministry of Environment and Forests in 1985 and in 2014 the ministry was renamed to the current title of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. , Dr Triloki Nath Khoshoo a world renowned Environment Scientist was appointed Secretary with the responsibility of developing a proactive environmental policy for the country in the newly created Department of Environment 1982. After   analysing the overall scenario observed that the ecological system in India is under great stress due to growing pressure of human and livestock population- forests are being destroyed, marginal lands are being cultivated and grasslands have disappeared. The very base of the country is threatened. The situation leads to soil erosion in the uplands and excessive sedimentation and floods in the downstream areas. He took a number of initiatives, to contain and improve biodiversity through people’s mass moment from grass root level with Government   support.  One of the measures he introduced, taking cue from   Professor Swaiminathan, , while addressing the Indian Science Congress at Varanasi, 1981  then Member secretary Planning Commission called upon youth of the country to mobilise themselves to improve and enrich the environment and play a leading role in creating ecological consciousness and educate masses on the significance of enriching the environs for a better and fuller life. Under this background Eco-Development Camps programme was launched 1984, the guidelines were prepared, on the basis of feedback received from universities and voluntary agencies by Dr Indra.K.Kamoj and Dr . S.Mudgal Department of Environment. It has been one of the perfect measures suggested to protect the environment. Emphasis was given to create awareness in the students, non-students youth and the society about the basic ecological principles and environment measures. Next to identify and analyze the root cause of the ecological problems, particularly related to human activities and the biosphere. Further create awareness about the seriousness of the problem of the environment in the community and an atmosphere of acceptance of measures being undertaken to meet the situation. An area of activities was defined. Water Resources:-removal of noxious aquatic weeds from water bodies, water sampling with a potable testing Kits , disinfection of public utility water resources., Tree Plantation and Soil Conservation:- plantation of trees on steep hills, community places,  preparation on nurseries development of grasses. Under health care heath surrey, construction of soak pits, compost pits and sanitary latrines. The State of Jammu and Kashmir got executive the programme through the Forest, Ecology and Environment as it was known then. What was archived, where and when?  These guidelines   had been tailored under the requirement and best suited one. To re-lay   the shaky foundation with incorporation such like activities are not known. Another nasty story of adventurism   cropped the National Green Corp, Young in Green Action, under the Environment Education  Programme  which was launched  by the Ministry of Environment and Forests Government of India in the year 2001in all the states. Jammu and Kashmir  Pollution Control board was appointed as the Nodal Agency  along with the World Wide Fund for Nature India as the resource Agency for the state  .The Goal and Objectives of the Programme was old wine in new bottle word for word, rather taken per verbatim from Eco Camps. Aimed to trigger chain reaction to start from school children, called early adopters , move on to include  society .Eco members   to take greening activities, growing and maintaining vegetables and  gardens, herbal gardens, tree plantations, field trips to forests, wetlands, Wildlife Parks, and mining areas, to construct rain water harvesting structures for water harvesting for water conservation  maintain public places clean, through waste management, waste recycling, making soaking pits and vermin composting, etc. As per report released in 2009 with a forward Written by  Dr.C.M.Seth IFS  Chairman / Nodal Officer NGC ( J&k) with a message from the Dr Mohit Gera IFS, Member Secretary  J&K SPCB. Data reveal that the total 5486 ? Eco-Clubs were registered from  2001to 2009 in all the 22 Districts , each District had 250 Eco clubs  except Kargil 249.J k Pollution Control Board has nothing on record to share the latest status .Again question arises why both the Programmes ,Eco-Camps and Clubs  which would have strength the base for the environment  protection not taken up  as a recurring programme under one of the schemes  to save Biodiversity. Which could have definitely helped to contain, abnormal slide in biodiversity, reverse it and retrieve what has been allowed to lose. There appears no apparent reason to abandoned half way these programmes tantamount to sabotaging the movement   . People near the Forests ask for Foresters   of yester years not preachers and   seminar oriented officers. Those were the days were well versed with every inch of the area under, daily touring kept them abreact with the scenario, It has been well established the soil prefer and react to the one who take care with his own hands which starts with a commoner, like labours, gardeners, Forest Guards, beyond that those who talk and vanish has harmed the Biodiversity.

(Feedback at: blparimoo@gmail.com)

 By- Bushan Parimoo 

( the author is jammu based Environmentalist)



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