We Asked: Do you think development over green cover and open spaces is a good idea, especially when it is totally confined to highway constructions and industrialization bids?
The trees are chopped down for widening of roads, for metro rails, industries and for campuses in the name of development. The environmental consequences of the reduction in green cover and open spaces have been wide ranging – increase in air pollution, ground water depletion, frequent flooding during the monsoon, biodiversity loss and an overall rise in temperature in the city as a result of concretization. The foraging sites of birds are lost, the pollinators like bees and butterflies are declining and every now and then we find snakes in our houses, all contributed by the so-called developments by humans. The human-monkey conflicts are due to the loss of the natural habitats. Air quality in the city has markedly deteriorated in the past decade. The young generation especially the children are showing asthmatic symptoms more than ever before. The green cover is dwindling due to rapid and unplanned urbanization. Open spaces are lost due to urban sprawling. The combination of dense built-up areas and reduced vegetation is resulting in an increase in urban temperature, a phenomenon known as the ‘urban heat island' effect. Since concrete and asphalt absorb the heat, unlike trees which re-radiate it back into the atmosphere, the number and intensity of hot spots is increasing. People are being forced to spend more on electricity costs, especially to run air-conditioners. The constructors are often seen showing their plantation plans along with the construction that is without vision. Replacing the native trees with ornamental plants is a disaster. Choosing the right place and species is highly crucial and it requires inputs from tree experts. So, developing a green belt around each industrial site and along the highways should be mandatory. For sustainable life we must realize that trees are a fundamental part of the landscape, not a hindrance. Apart from government’s responsibility, it is also a duty of every citizen in the country to take care of the environment. -Dr Sonika Kushwaha, President, Indian Biodiversity Conservation Society, Jhansi-UP
It is disheartening but true that in the present scenario, the green cover is much lower in most of the places. Today, new roads are proposed across farms, through mountains and even through sanctuaries. The government and the people are inconsiderate. With each mountain that we mine for stones, we are ultimately reducing the quantity of moisture it can hold, thereby gradually affecting the rainfall in the region. Deep mining alters the tectonic composition, causing tremors even in non-earthquake prone areas. Enough harm has been done by now and its high time we involve the local people in conserving their environment. Green spaces not only support biodiversity, but also thousands of local communities living in and around them. Therefore, it is important to establish models which demonstrate that local communities and biodiversity can co-exist, mutually benefitting from each another. Existing practices in the name of development, however, could pose a risk as these are generally unsustainable. Moreover, continued and poorly managed human disturbance is likely to destroy green surroundings, affecting natural connectivity between crucial natural habitats. The government shouldn’t assign green zones and open spaces for unsustainable industrial and transportation projects because natural resources need to be protected for the assistance in sustaining our ecosystem and saving mankind. Though, there is widespread acknowledgement about the importance of trees. It is not about the number we gain or lose but the number we manage to sustain, so that there is a balance in the oxygen spent and oxygen released ratio. Trees are cut from the green spaces for widening of roads and establishment of industries in various parts of our country leading to air pollution. Planting trees is easy. The problem lies in maintaining them. Without waiting for the government to take action, people must take the initiative to conserve nature. Any form of green cover increase should be appreciated and encouraged. It is imperative that natural habitats should be increased — both area wise and density wise — as it will not only increase the green cover but also increase the biodiversity, including flora and fauna. –Dr Akhilesh Kumar, Assistant Science Teacher, Uttar Pradesh Basic Education, Uttar Pradesh
Topic of the month: Do you think erosion of the most fragile sections of the Himalayas for highways is a good idea? You may send your views (either in Hindi or English) in 300 words at [email protected] Please also attach a colour photo of yourself.