Lok Sabha passed two important bills recently: the Forest Conservation Act and the Biodiversity Act. After that it is awaiting the approval of the Rajya Sabha.
Both the proposed laws have the protection of the environment in their name. But it is well known that there is often a great distance between the name and the character.
There are also big questions about the character of these two bills. All those questions have been raised with information and arguments from various circles, aware and experienced about environment protection. Protests have been staged , But the central government don’t want to give importance to them.
On the strength of numbers and day after day of noise in Parliament, the rulers have passed two bills.
The chances of repeating that experience in the Rajya Sabha are strong. The number strength in that chamber is lower than in the Lok Sabha, but the noise level is no less.
More importantly, and unfortunately, anti-government political parties are also often indifferent to environmental issues.
How much of it is due to ignorance and mental laziness, and how much to the motivation of various interests, that judgment lies elsewhere, but there is no doubt that the degree of indifference is vast and appalling.
While nature and environment around the world are literally counting down the days of doom, there is no sign of Indian politicians and public representatives waking up.
It is in this context that various sections of concerned citizens, including former government bureaucrats, and various groups active in protecting the environment have recently appealed to members of the Rajya Sabha not to approve these two bills.
The main complaint of the petitioners is that if there is a possibility of damage to the forest nature and its biodiversity for any kind of project, the new law is planning to seriously relax the obligation to consult the concerned people, local or regional organizations engaged in environmental protection, state government offices and organizations and experts.
As a result, the path of arbitrary destruction of nature and environment will be much wider.
Notably, on the grounds of national security, environmental regulations will be specifically relaxed in areas up to a hundred kilometers from the border.
In the vast areas of the country, like Northeast India including Manipur is recognized as one of the richest hill-forest regions in the world and an unparalleled treasure of biodiversity.
Environmentally-conscious protesters are alarmed and worried that these reserves will be destroyed indiscriminately under the pretense of development and defense.
Apprehension and anxiety are not uncommon. Development is certainly essential, security is also essential.
But first, there is no reason to compromise on the protection of the environment today, because the balance of nature is now not only a prerequisite for sustainable development, but if that balance is further disturbed, the defence base will also be endangered and undermined—the extent to which natural disasters damage the economic structure of national security. Its signs are becoming evident all over the world.
Second, there is no way to rule out the question of whether environmental regulations are being arbitrarily relaxed to favor various powerful interest groups on the grounds of development and security .
In this situation, there is no alternative to active awareness in the social and political sphere on the question of environmental protection.
However, in the face of destruction, the politics of this country is indifferent to the environment, and so is the society.