We Asked: Green patches and natural ponds in urban areas are falling a prey to builders for housing societies, causing a disruption in the lives of monkeys, beside birds etc that lose their habitat and have to deal with a lot of trauma and physical abuse when they venture into residential colonies in desperation for survival. Who is responsible? Do you think the authorities concerned must check such malpractices of builders and not wait till the project is complete? Also, the law has to be understood (or even changed) in such cases and implemented stringently? Even individuals, who approach the court, go too late. Who do you think is at fault and how should we tackle this ‘theft’ of natural resources?
Lucknow and other cities are growing at unprecedented rates, creating extensive urban landscapes. Lucknow has changed from small, isolated population center in early 1990’s to a large interconnected urban complex today having diverse economic, physical and environmental features. The present Lucknow resulted due to uncontrolled sprawling and lead to thrashing of agricultural land. The sodic areas were cultivated without any monetary gains, and so they were turned into developed residential areas. This has fulfilled the housing demand for increasing population. However, this resulted in ecological unbalance and loss of traditional agricultural trade of villages. These changes have adversely affected the birds such as House Sparrows that are now surviving with the help of artificial nest boxes. The State Bird of Uttar Pradesh, Sarus Crane is becoming the victim of encroachment of local water bodies in the towns and villages adjacent to the cities. The cases of snakes appearing in our houses are increasing because we have our houses in their natural habitats. We have left no space for other creatures. Our ignorance towards the theft of natural resources is now affecting our lives as well. Until and unless we take the responsibilities to come forward and raise our voice, we won’t be able to stop this. If people are hesitant to approach the court, they can at least inform some local NGOs working in their area. The NGOs have a lot of volunteers who come forward and protest for the damages. We use social media only for entertainment; however, it can be of much more importance, raise your voice, if you fear the consequences, hide your identity but make sure you do something. Let the builders have the fear of being exposed to the world. We have to be strong and responsible. Silence will never defend us. Ella Wheeler rightly said, “To sin by Silence, when we should protest, makes cowards out of men.” -Dr Sonika, President, Indian Biodiversity Conservation Society, Jhansi
Since historic times, value of forests and wetlands was recognized by all communities and they developed a sense of belonging and ownership towards them. For an urban area, they can endow with a broad range of significant resources and ecosystem services such as food, water, groundwater recharge, water purification, flood moderation, erosion control, climate regulation and rainfall sinks. They are vital component of our natural possessions and liquid assets. The encroachment of these natural resources results in increased number of human-animal conflicts. Monkey attacks in a number of cities are very common nowadays. Very often snakes are found in our homes and there is a rise in the attacks by leopards in residential colonies adjoining a forest area. The malpractices of builders with the support of authorities have ruined the ecosystem. We have several management plans formulated to identify the objectives of wetland management, identification of factors influencing the wetlands, resolving conflicts between various stakeholders having an interest in the wetland/water bodies, enabling communication between wetland users, managers, organizations and various other stakeholders, ensuring compliance with laws and regulation and demonstration of management effectiveness and efficiency. For the implementation of these plans, we should have zero tolerance towards encroachment of natural resources. Revenue Department is the custodian of government land and has the power and responsibility to check encroachment of government land. Lake Protection Committees (LPCs) can be set up including members from the local community, political parties, teacher in-charge of Green Cadet Core in the nearby school, an official from the concerned government department etc. All green patches should be brought under the Forest Department to be conserved as protected areas under Wild Life Protection Act. There are about 200 Central and State laws to protect environment in India. The 42nd amendment to the Constitution of India in 1976 gave priority, among others, to the protection of the environment. Thus, in fundamental duties, it is stated Article 57A (g) that ‘it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures’. The involvement of local communities in the conservation and management of natural resources should take place at a desired level in the city. -Dr Akhilesh Kumar, Wildlife Biologist and assistant science teacher in Uttar Pradesh Basic Education
Topic of the month: It is raining cats and dogs, but how much water conservation effort do you see around you by both private and public sectors? What immediate efforts must be done by us to save all that precious water which is uselessly flowing away and flooding cities? You may send your views in 300 words at [email protected] Please also attach a colour photo of yourself.