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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Environment conservation: Now or never

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Environmental issues are gaining momentum throughout the world today. Apart from the efforts of NGOs, governments too have started educating the public about different aspects of the conservation of the environment.

Some of the major issues being talked about are different types of pollution, Garbage management, illegal felling of trees and the poaching of animals. So many laws relating to the protection of the environment are in force and the need of the establishment of an environment commission is being felt seriously.

The environment is the nursery of life and life forms are innumerable. All the life forms in existence are dependent on each other in such a manner that damage to one is sure to cause harm to the entire living system.Each form of life occupies a unique position in the environment. and the extinction of any one type will stop the flow of energy and food materials in the biosphere because of the lack of suitable alternate species. In this way the whole living system may stand at the risk of extinction. Therefore every type of plants and animals needs to be conserved. This is what we call conservation of biodiversity.

Nature takes its own course.Changes in the conditions of the environment have serious impacts on its biotic and abiotic constituents. On the other hand, any alteration in the natural quality of its constituents may alter the condition of the environment leading to change in proper energy flow in the food chain. Since man in order to maintain its rank in the race of modernization, to satisfy his dreams of development and material greed, is using natural resources in most unnatural fashion, alteration in the natural quality of resources, lack or loss of some or
many of them and even extinction are bound to occur. Now this is the stage which will disturb the entire natural process leading to the destruction of life on this planet.Mustn't the biodiversity be maintained ? The loss of any form will finally lead to the loss of every life form. Thus cry for the conservation of the biodiversity is genuine.

A number of factors are responsible for keeping the biodiversity at risk point. Deforestation, illegal cutting of trees, poaching , chemical pollution including pesticide poisoning , discharge of toxic effluents by industrial units into our water sources, and moreover ceremonial sacrifices of animals, killing birds and animals for meat on special occasions like on New Years Day and bird trade are principle reasons behind Ecological Imbalance and dangers against biodiversity. let us examine these factors.

Forests maintain water-cycle and recharge the underground water table. They are directly responsible for increasing the agricultural production on which a number of bird and insect species besides rural and urban human population depend for their existence. A number of cases of the violation of Forest Conservation and Protection of Environment Act have been reported from Bihar alone, cases of illegal felling of seasoned trees and illegal timber trade in East Champaran reveal that nothing in the direction of forest conservation is possible until the public itself come forward with a will to protect it. We have a glittering example of Gavadewadi village of Pune District that have been awarded " Indira Priyadarshini Friends of Trees Award 1995" for planting 110,000 trees in 34 hectares of land by its resident farmers. No Power is greater than the power of the people. Dishonest practices and illegal acts prevail only at places where people loose their conscience and civic sense.

Forests are homes of innumerable species of wild animals. the erection of embankments, dams, canals and mines has degraded a vast tract of forests in Bihar. Improper forest management, careless utilization of project funds and immoral killing of wild animals are causing more risks in the biodiversity zones of Bihar. The ministry of environment

is working towards. forest regeneration by involving private industries and co-operatives. It is important to note that forests can be easily rejuvenated through the participation of the people. The industrial takeover of forests ill deprive millions of tribal gujjars and other people who survive on forests. So efforts should only be made to make judicious use of our resources for the benefit of the community. Practices of deforestation are making a number of species of wild animals homeless. Such animal species migrate due to the destruction of their habitats and face the danger of extinction during their unsuccessful attempt for survival.

Bird killing and bird trade are also high practice in Bihar. A number of bird sellers are seen most often in the markets of Ranchi and Patna Town. Some of them claim that they purchase birds from Calcutta and other cities (outside Bihar) while others openly admit that they catch those bird species from forests. A number of 'BAGERI' sellers are seen here and there during winter season in Ranchi. Bageri is a small bird very similar to field sparrow.
Bageri catchers get up early in the morning and , go to fields and catch those birds. through various techniques. They sit at various market places and sell their meat after killing them mercilessly. Some of them move form door to door selling these birds on high prices. All this practices of hunting, poaching and trading accounts to serious
crisis against biodiversity in this state.

Pesticides to protect our crops are being used on large scales. These deadly chemicals are absorbed by plants. Thus they reach into the food chain. On the other hand , birds eating those poisoned insects loose their fertility and become unable to reproduce. In this way pesticides become responsible for the loss of bird species. Chemical Fertilizers used in agriculture often join mainstreams to reach to our water sources to kill fish and amphibians by
causing eutrophication. Reports published in newspapers reveal that iron ore mines in Bihar are releasing toxic waters of Koyona and Karo rivers. The level of these toxic pollutants has increased upto such and extent that it has
created drinking water crisis in the area as a result of which wild animals are migrating away from their natural habitat. A new challenge before our scientists is the challenge of ground water pollution. Important studies of the groundwater of Dhanbad area that were conducted by the central government have shown that the industrial activities in the area have led to severe groundwater pollution and in most of the places this water is not fit for drinking. Fourteen such industrial units in Bihar alone have been identified which are responsible for the pollution of
groundwater basin.

Conservation of our natural resources, flora, fauna and land is very necessary for the conservation of biodiversity.The
conservation should not be understood as the process of keeping intact our flora, fauna and other resources. In more
practical sense , it relates to the judicious use of living and non-living resources of our environment. Sudden fluctuations in environmental conditions too serve as principle causes of species extinction. These factors may be epidemics, competition, climatic change or habitat destructions, increased pollution etc. are principle causes of the serious damage to biodiversity. Some traditional beliefs like bringing out lizard oil by mercilessly boiling or killing them , economic considerations , illegal trade , introduction of exotic species which are responsible for the transmission of diseases and parasites and pressures of exotic predators etc. Such human activities disturb the ecological balance of the area, cause serious economic loss and reduce protein intake thereby encouraging the process of species loss.

A number of non-government organizations are on their way to conserve nature and biodiversity for sustainable living on this planet. WWF's efforts in this regard have been pioneering ones. The wildlife preservation society if India and trade record analysis of flora and fauna in commerce (Traffic) are two Indian NGOs that are taking seriously the heinous crime of poaching and illegal trade in wildlife products.

The Prithvi-Foundation , a Ranchi based NGO has done an experiment of building artificial nests to conserve bird species. Large scale afforestation programmes and distribution of saplings during rainy season since last four years are certainly big steps of this NGO to encourage biodiversity thereby keeping natural balance. Now what is more important is the sense of protection and conservation on public level as nothing in this regard is possible without public awareness and public participation.

Source: THE INDIAN NATION, Dec 29, 1996

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