“The danger regarding which we have been ringing alarm bells for the past two decades has walked right up to our doorstep now,” said Biswanath Sinha, Director, Policy and technical support at WaterAid India, about the effects of climate change in India.
WaterAid India, an international agency that works to provide clean drinking water to people, has been working in India since 1986. “We are seeing the impact of climate change in our day-to-day lives… the landslides in the Himalayan region and the floods in Assam. This is not just an urban phenomenon,” said Sinha.
Talking about the lack of environment-friendly urban planning, he said, “In urban areas, infrastructure without any scientific planning has increased manifold. You can see the rapid flyover construction in Delhi in recent years that has blocked the river flow from all sides. The promises of sustainable conservation policies are false and meant for economic benefits. We have destroyed our natural resources. Besides, in comparison to the infrastructure and population, we have not constructed a proper sewage line.”
He added that World Nature Conservation Day should not be restricted to making rhetorical statements. “We should take climate change seriously. Everybody is vulnerable now, whether they live in the Sundarbans or Pithoragarh,” he said.
He stressed upon the need to redefine forest areas. “For example, we say that the forest land in India is 23% while, in reality, it is not even 10%. Our forests have many barren lands. If we do not take facts seriously, natural casualties will rise. Irrespective of how big an economy is, there will be casualties because the situation is out of control now,” he said.
We often hear stories of citizens coming forward to reinstate nature’s lost glory. Vijay Dhasmana, a Noida resident, is one among them. He has converted a 380-acre abandoned mining site in Gurugram into a city forest, now known as Aravalli Biodiversity Park. He has been working in this field to save nature and forests for close to two decades.
“At the moment, nature is in a vulnerable state. We had more hope from the governments during the 90’s, but that is shrinking now. Industrialisation is increasing, while primary forests and biodiversity are decreasing. So, we’re fighting a lost battle,” Dhasmana said.
“I work in the field of habitat conservation. Aravalli was a project of a Gurugram-based NGO. I restored it as Aravalli Biodiversity Park and have been working here since 2011. In these areas, we restore the places where mining happened. After our conservation, more than 200 birds, 60 butterflies and many animals have returned there,” he added.
When asked about the solution, he said, “The first step is to raise your voice. The second is to support those who are conserving nature. We can make a national park or bird century, but it will not be very helpful until everybody wakes up to save forests, biodiversity and the environment. It’s a lost battle. Other governments should have a big plan or take responsibility to save it. It should be a high-priority issue for all. You can see the effect of climate change.”
On Friday, the Ministry of Earth Sciences wrote on Twitter“Preserve, Protect, Prosper: Our Mother Nature, Our Responsibility! On #WorldNatureConservationDay, let’s safeguard our natural resources and preserve our environment. Together, we can create a greener and sustainable planet, maintaining the balance between people and nature. (SIC)”
The aim of World Nature Conservation Day is to educate people about the risks of excessive exploitation of natural resources and also to create awareness among people about the importance of the natural environment and its resources.
This year, the theme is “Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet”, with a focus on strategies to conserve nature, save natural resources and prevent the depletion of resources for future generations.