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Government Plundering Environment, Ecology To Benefit Corporate Entities

Government Plundering Environment, Ecology To Benefit Corporate Entities

Both the Union and state governments are guilty of causing massive environmental and ecological destruction to benefit corporations.

They all show utter disregard for the environment, whether it’s the destruction of forests and the ecosystems of the Aravallis and the Himalayas (particularly Kinnaur) or the Andaman-Nicobar Islands, where NITI Aayog has cleared a megadevelopment plan or the promptness to undermine the environment impact assessment (EIA), in order to set up industrial units.

Regional Plan for Aravallis

The Draft Regional Plan (DRP-2041) for the AravallisIt is a disaster in the making. The Haryana government has prepared a plan that negates some of DRP-2021’s provisions and will use prime forest areas for other activities. Large areas of forestland are likely to lose protection from construction under National Conservation Zone (NCZ), as described in the DRP-2021.

The new draft replaces NCZ with Natural Zone. It also changes the definition of natural features like mountains and hills. The new draft will result in large areas of forestland being lost to illegal mining and land sharks in Gurugram and Faridabad. January 1, Four people were killed in a landslideAt the Dadam mining area, surrounded on both sides by the Aravallis, in Bhiwani district.

Is there a real increase in forest cover?

The most recent edition of India State of Forest ReportThe forest and tree cover have increased by 2,261 sqkm since 2019, to 8.09 lakh sqkm in 2021. It also showed a decline in the forest cover of hill and tribal communities.

The government is HiddenBasic facts. According to the report The forest cover covers 7,13,789 square kilometers. India’s total area is approximately 21.71%. 4,06,669 km of dense forest and 3,07,120 km of open forests are considered degraded.

According to the government, the forest cover has increased by 38.251 sq km in the past 20 years. This is approximately the same area as Kerala. Dense forest cover has declined by 10,140 sq km, roughly equal to Tripura’s size, while open forests have increased 48,391 square km.

The reality is that good-quality forests have a reduced canopy over time. This shows the increasing systematic plundering under successive governments, including the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Star rating EIA

A Circular issuedThe ministry of environment and forestry has given a star rating to the states and Union Territories (UTs). This rating will be based on their efficiency and timeliness in granting environmental clearancequick disposalsof complaints and minimal site visitsto projects in shortest time. EIA clearance in 80 days will get two marks, one for 105 days, one for 105-120 and 0.5 marks respectively, while zero marks will be given if it takes longer than 120 days.

While the timelines may seem appealing, the reality of clearance is that it will be a formality just like in the smart-city rating system. EIA clearance by officials from within conference rooms without visiting the site is a new way forward for the government’s ease of doing business model.

This practice of granting environmental clearances without visiting the site is a disaster for the environment, and will cause public unrest against such projects. One EIA report that was prepared for a hydropower plant in Thangi Kinnaur, cited a flora-fauna that never existed in the mountain ranges. These misleading reports can cause unrest within tribal districts such as the No means No campaignKinnauras launched an opposition to the proposed 804 MW Jangi Thopan Powari Hydroelectricity Project in Satluj.

Star-rating is a method that shows the desperateness of the Centre when it comes to granting clearance to projects that are destroying the environment and ecology.

Mega project Great Nicobar

The Rs 72,000 crore Great Nicobar ProjectAnother example of the Centre’s unbridled greed is this. Experts have pointed out that the EIA report on this project has raised concerns. serious questionsrelated to the submission or inexact information, scientific inaccuracy, or failure to follow the correct procedure.

The project, which was strongly opposed by the local population, but is being strongly pushed forward by the NITI Aayog includes the construction a mega port, an airfield complex, a township that covers 130 km of pristine forest, and solar- and gas-based power stations.

These moves by the Centre or the states will pose a serious risk to the environment, people, and the projects. It is not sustainable to make decisions that serve the interests of large corporate entities.

The writer is the former Shimla deputy mayor, Himachal Pradesh. These views are my own.

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