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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Some important aspects of management of environment

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The Indian Philosophy, of Environment focuses on a holistic approach towards the Management of Environment. According to the Isha Upnishad,-

“The whole universe belongs to the lord of creation or the Nature togetherwith all its creatures. By giving up all the green, one can enjoy the bounties of nature. No creature is superior to any other, and human beings should not have absolute power over nature. Let no species encroach on the rights and privileges of nature. The elements of sustainability are ingrained in this, because the emphasis is on using nature for the good of all human beings.”

According to the Traditional Culture of India, the harmony with the Natural Environment is the essential part of survival of human societies. Nature and Man form inseparable parts of the life support system of the earth that are interconnected and interdependent. The deterioration in one element affects others. There is greater emphasis laid down on values, beliefs and attitudes in traditional social ethics that helps man to live in harmony with nature. The most impressive and eloquent testament of Ecological Values found anywhere in the world literature is the Bhoomi Suktam contained in the Atharvaveda. In the World History, the Ecological Concerns became the State Concerns, for the first time during 272-232 BC. The Empireal Edicts declared by Ashoka lay down the rules of conduct that had to be obeyed with respect to the environment and non-compliance with those edicts met with adequate punishments. Here is another example of the Traditional Attitudes of Reverence that shows age long ethical approach of the Environmental Management in India-

Impart to us those vitalizing forces that come,
O Earth! from deep within your body,your central point, your navel; purify us wholly.
The Earth is Mother; I am son of the Earth,
The rain-giver is my father; may he shower on us blessings.”

- Atharvaveda: (12.1.12).

Here is a current statement in support of the Ethical Aspects of Environmental Management in India –

“It is an arrogant assumption to say that human beings are Lords and Masters of the lower creatures. On contrary, being endowed with greater things in life, they are the trustees of the Lower Animal Kingdom. The delicate and holistic balance that exists in nature has to be respected and maintained."
- M.K.Gandhi. quoted by T. N. Khoshoo, in “An Apostle of Applied Human Ecology”- 1988.

Since we cannot raise the carrying capacity of the earth systems, we have our moral duty to conserve all the resources and biodiversity with all its means, traditions, cultures and religious practices. “To save our planet with all its living and non-living manifestations and to ensure the diversity that has been its strength, there is an urgent need to adopt a code, which may be called the Dharma of Ecology” (Khoshoo, T. N. 1999.Dharma of Ecology, Current Science. Vol.77 No. 9: 1147-1153).The Dharma of Ecology, is the ethical sense that should be one important aspect of the Environmental Management.

Economics has very much to do with development and development tends to do very much with the natural environment. Industries, agriculture, mining, developmental projects etc. are the pillars of the modern development and these, either directly or indirectly cause most of the problems in the environment. All of these, the industries, agriculture, developmental projects (including dams, bridges, flyovers, roads, rail-tracks, pastures etc.) are based on economic principles. The Environmental Management must take care of the cost and benefits together with the health of the environment while analyzing and managing development in its favour.

Environmental Managers must ensure that all the industries use pollution control devices to ensure good health of their local environment. On the other hand, industrialists often try to escape from using these devices as it affects the cost of industrial production and profit by consuming electricity or so. Many industries initially start using pollution control devices but later stop their function to reduce the consumption of energy and thus the cost of production. Hence, industries should be checked and their activities should be monitored regularly so as to safeguard the environment.

Industrialists often donot take into account the loss of health of environment in the price of the industrial productions. In case the industrialists’ donot include the impacts or costs experienced by adversely affected people on their health, or on the environment on the whole; in the prices they pay, the industry may produce pollutants in excess of the socially optimal level. The Theory of the Tragedy of Commons given by Garret Hardin reveals that visitors to an open access recreational area use the resources more than if they have to pay for it. It leads to the degradation of the environment. If Municipal Corporations lift up all the restrictions from the public walking along roads in cities, the moving public tends to convert every bend of a street into a toilet and every open space into a garbage dump or so. If Municipal Corporations construct toilets and lavatories and charge taxes from users, the problem will disappear automatically. Thus taxation in this case improves the economic level of municipal corporations and helps in the management of the health of the city environment. If the motor vehicles, industries and allied sectors that cause pollution are forced to pay taxes and fines, the problem of pollution in the local environment can be minimized and the income of enforcement organizations can be improved.

The economic aspect of the Environmental Management values the losses caused to the health of environment in economic terms. Hence the environmental management applies some practices as solutions to environmental problems. Some of these practices are explained below.

Environmental Regulations
The impact of development is estimated in economic terms through regulations. Most of these regulations are enforced by fines that are operated in the form of tax if pollution rises above the prescribed limit. Secondly, pollution is monitored on regular basis and enforcement agencies see that the laws pertaining to the control of emissions or effluents are obeyed by industrial units.
Pollution Quotas

Pollution can be reduced by fixing pollution quotas in the form of tradable emission permits. The polluter company tries to reduce pollution load on its own if it has to pay more than the actual expenses for pollution reduction.

Taxes and Tariffs on Pollution
If the cost of pollution is increased a polluter becomes bound to reduce the pollution being caused through its industrial unit. In view of this thought, taxes and tariffs on pollution are usually imposed on polluters. These taxes are termed as Green Taxes. A pollution tax that helps in the reduction of pollution to the socially “optimal” level would be set at such a level that pollution occurs only if the benefit to society exceeds the cost. Some people suggest shifting the tax on sales tax and income tax to the tax on pollution. It is popularly known as the Green Tax Shift.

Property Rights
One economic aspect of environmental management is redefining the property rights. Through environmental management, the property rights may be assigned to them who suffer from pollution. According to this theory of property rights which is also called as the Coase Theory, if people living near a factory had a right to clean air and water, then the factory could pay to the affected people. On contrary, if the factory had the right to pollute, though it can never be accepted), the people could pay the factory for reducing pollution.

Economic Policies
The economic aspects of management also relates to the economic policies so as to manage the global market system and its impact on environment. The economic policies should encourage environment friendly enterprises that employ people and take care of their welfare along with protecting the environment. Under this aspect of environmental management, resources are treated as natural capitals and so, these are accounted and assessed in the economic context. This is called as Green Accounting.

Promotion of Traditional Values and Occupations
A number of traditional values and practices can be substituted to economic values. For example, planting twigs of trees in paddy fields is a traditional practice of pest control through birds and it saves money expected to be consumed by pesticides. On the other hand, if traditional and environment friendly economic activities of people are promoted adequately, it will improve their economic conditions along with protecting the environment. The traditional Small Scale Industries like Bee-keeping, Pisciculture, Sericulture, Mixed Farming etc. promote health of environment togetherwith improving the economic conditions of farmers. These traditional practices should be subsidized by the government instead of subsidizing the purchase environment damaging projects.

The technological aspects of environmental management relate to the development and adoption of environment friendly technologies that may help improve the income of people along with protecting the environment. Under this aspect, efficiencies of machines are improved so as to improve production with lesser expenses. This demands further research and innovations for the improvements of indigenous technologies, designing of better machines and enhancing production while safeguarding the natural environment.

The government of India has prescribed regulations and standards to adopt emission control strategies and to use eco -friendly technologies. Eco Marks are awarded to products that are environmentally safe and that have been manufactured through the application of environment friendly and efficient technologies. Along this line Eco Marks are awarded under following conditions-

(i).The products of industries should meet the standards prescribed by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).

(ii).The manufacturers should have sufficient evidence of compliance of Environmental Protection Act and Rules framed by the government. Such acts and rules may be the Environmental Protection Act, Water Act, Air Act, Prevention of Food Adulteration Act and Rules etc.

(iii). All the products should display the composition on the label pasted on the container of the product along with dates of manufacturing and expiry.

(iv).The manufacture of a product should use recyclable packaging materials.

The benefits of awarding Eco Marks are –

(i)Increase in the accountability for environmental impact.

(ii)Consumer Awareness

(iii)Improvement in the image of product and manufacturer.

Social Aspects of Environmental Management incorporate: Community Health, Traditional Values, Traditional Culture, Nutrition and Human Rights including Women and Child Welfare in relation to environment. Some specific areas of social field especially covered under equity, social justice and women empowerment have been described below.
Equity and Social Justice

According to Adams, 1965 – the relational satisfaction in terms of perception of fair distribution of resources within interpersonal relationships is called as equity. The term was first developed by John Stacy Adams in 1963. Equity in the sense of environmental Management relates to equal distribution of resources and equal sharing of benefits of development by all the sections of society.

The programmes of modern development have not been supporting equally to all the sections of society. It has been a common experience that poor have always been sufferers during the constructions of mega-dams, power stations, industries, hospitals etc. The Green Revolution benefited big farmers only as the poor could not afford machines and agro-chemicals. Thousands of poor families have to migrate leaving their habitats and their shares of natural resources for ever. Many tribal populations have to face multiple migrations after being displaced during developmental activities. The environmental management should therefore ensure that natural resources are shared equally by every section of society so that the poor may not remain poor for ever and the underdeveloped may gain full chances of proper development. On the International Level, we have the example of a few developed nations exploiting maximum resources of the world. The International efforts are being made to fill this gap of disparity.

A concept of society in which justice is received in every aspect of the society rather than merely the administration of law, is called as Social Justice. There is injustice in many societies of the world. It is of common observation that some groups of people are consistently privileged while others are consistently disadvantaged. According to an opinion, “the social justice is about preventing human rights abuses and ensuring adherence to the International Law. Issues of minority groups, international justice, issues pertaining to women and children come under the process of social justice. Social justice on International level refers to war crimes, and crimes against humanity, including genocides.

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