Development not at cost of environment: Expert

Kochi (Kerala), June 5 (IANS) Noted ecologists and green activists Wednesday cautioned the government against aiming 8-9 percent GDP (gross domestic product) annual growth at the cost of environment and sought a balanced approach towards sustainable development for a equitable society.

"Alarming urbanisation and rapid westernisation with their concomitant extravaganza and wasteful consumption are the new challenges we are facing. Development cannot be for the privileged at the cost of the deprived who have as much right to better quality of life," former state chief conservator of forests M. Manoharan said at a seminar held to mark World Environment Day in this port city on the Malabar coast.

Noting that environment and society have many peculiarities, Manoharan said though India was blessed with rich biodiversity and abundant natural resources, meeting the needs of over 1.2-billion people was a major challenge, as fruits of development, including education, healthcare, jobs, housing and infrastructure have not reached about 70 percent of the population living in rural areas across the country.

"Majority of villages and urban areas face acute shortage of drinking water and other needs, including farming activity. About 300 million people are yet to get electricity in their homes despite the national rural electrification programme, millions of youth remain jobless or under employed despite the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and about 50 percent of the children are malnourished in spite of many healthcare programmes under the National Rural Health Mission," Manoharan noted.

Asserting that every developmental activity needed infrastructure, trained and skilled manpower and investments, the state electricity regulatory board chairman said it had to be sustainable with least adverse impact on environment.

"Clamouring for abandoning developmental projects, highlighting only their adverse impact will not solve the socio-economic problems of our society. Changes in policies and strategies of environmental movements with changes in political governance or proponents of projects will erode the credibility of such movements," Manoharan pointed out.

Admitting that any development would have some cost and benefit as well as adverse impact, the former IFS officer said sustainable strategies for implementing developmental projects was the only way forward for least adverse environmental impact.

"Projects for conservation of natural resources and human environment prepared without consulting their custodians and addressing problems of the affected people will not have social acceptance for implementation," Manoharan observed.

In this context, the regulatory official hoped policy makers, judiciary, executive and other stakeholders, including activists would work together for viable solutions and sustainable development in a democracy.

Earlier in the day, conservation evangelist M.K. Prasad was feted and honoured on the occasion by hundreds of activists, students and members of non-government organisations (NGOs).

Popularly known as MKP, the octogenarian was instrumental in saving the Silent Valley tropical rain forest in this southern state during the seventies by spearheading a national movement against a hydro power project in the fragile bio-diverse hotspot in Idukki district, about 140 km from here.

In a fitting tribute to the yeomen services Prasad rendered to protect the rich flora and fauna heritage in the state, 98-year-old former Supreme Court judge and constitutional expert V.R Krishna Iyer honoured the evangelist on his 80th birthday and released a Festschrift, a collection of articles and essays on environment and society, by green experts.

"Though am I very old at 98 with poor eyesight and hearing, I came to the event venue to personally greet Prasad and acknowledge his contribution to the environment and his inspiring guidance to a generations of social activists, students, ecologists, naturalists and NGOs," Iyer said raising his voice that drew thunderous applause and standing ovation from the packed hall.

Among experts who participated in the event and spoke on Prasad's dedication to the noble cause were Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) director-general Sunita Narain, World Wide Fund (WWF) India's former chief executive Dilnavaz Variava, Sanctuary Asia editor and veteran naturalist Bittu Sahgal, Western Ghats ecology expert panel chairman Madhva Gadgil and Manoharan.

"I am touched and moved by the occasion though the credit goes to the fraternity and the large community that dwells in the midst of nature in harmony with its flora and fauna," an emotional Prasad told IANS later on the margins of the event./eom/710 words.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Pietersen to miss Delhi's first game

Pietersen to miss Delhi's first game

The former England batsman will have to wait lead the franchise as he is out of the match against Bangalore with a finger injury. More »

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

An all-round display saw Knight Riders thump Mumbai Indians by 41 runs in the IPL-7 opener. More »

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

"Integrity is non-negotiable..." says the BCCI's interim chief ahead of Season 7 of the tainted league. More »

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

The 38-year-old South African veteran turned it on for Kolkata Knight RIders in the opening match of IPL-7. More »

Yuvraj is going to be the X-factor for RCB this IPL, says skipper Virat Kohli

Yuvraj is going to be the X-factor for RCB this IPL, says skipper Virat Kohli

Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Virat Kohli feels that Yuvraj Singh is going to be the x-factor for them this IPL season More »

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

The court emphasised that the tainted administrator can no longer work for the BCCI. More »

'If you do the wrong thing it will be found out'

'If you do the wrong thing it will be found out'

'Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong and if you do the wrong thing it will be found out' More »

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Welcome to another season of a league that many watch but few trust. More »

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Australia's Mitchell Johnson may quit limited-overs cricket to prolong his test career with an eye on the 2015 Ashes series in England, the fast bowler… More »

There's a lot going on: Fleming

There's a lot going on: Fleming

He experienced anxious moments in the lead-up to the tournament as the courts decided on whether to suspend the franchise, he said, but stressed that the… More »

Nepal players call off boycott

Nepal players call off boycott

Thaw in relations after formation of an advisory committee that would work in tandem with the Cricket Association of Nepal. More »

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Former Pakistan cricket captain Rashid Latif said Tuesday he turned down the job of national chief selector because he could not work with ex-players tainted… More »

We are not over-confident: Bailey

We are not over-confident: Bailey

Indian Premier League — George Bailey-led Kings XI Punjab will face Chennai Super Kings on Friday. More »

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

MoU between BCCI & its units to avoid double taxation delayed after a few decline to share details. More »

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Their main concern, once again, is the fast bowling More »

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

New Zealand selectors included two new caps in a 15-man Test squad named Tuesday to tour the West Indies, with injury-hit spinner Dan Vettori's future… More »

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The Preview — Defending champions Mumbai Indians take on Kolkata Knight Riders More »

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

He was aggrieved by the allegations against him during the hearing. More »

India: cricket's Brazil

India: cricket's Brazil

They are tough to beat with a big talent base exposed to good facilities. (CYCSPL) More »

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Franchises are doing their bit to refurbish the image of the tainted league. More »

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

The revival of Indo-Pak Test ties could take place in UAE. More »

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Michael Klinger has revealed he felt compelled to leave South Australia after being told he would be only a fringe part of the Redbacks' plans for next season, and disputed the suggestion that he left… More »

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

'This time around we will hope to go few more steps ahead and actually get that trophy' More »

Gavaskar can help IPL regain glory

Gavaskar can help IPL regain glory

Apart from the foreign players a lot of behind-the-scene activity has taken place in selecting the Indian domestic players. More »