‘Environment be at the centre of development’

In a bid to contain steadily growing global warming we need to take some serious and effective steps towards reshaping our development model which have been taking toll of our environment. To save our generations to come , we have to ensure that all our approach and efforts of development should be made in ways that allow us keeping the environment in focus, asserted Dr Sameer Vajpayee Professor , National institute of technology (NIT) Raipur in a meaningful talk organized by Central Chronicle on the eve of World Environment Day which was attended also by Asst. Director (Jungle Safari) (ACF) Vinod Singh Thakur , Environmental Scientist (PRO-CECB) Dr Prakash Savant and Founder member of ‘Green Army’ Amitabh Dubey Chartered Accountant by profession and environment activist.

Dr Sameer Vajpayee – Prof. –NIT-Raipur
Dr Vajpayee said that now we have to change the paradigm about the development. Time has come that we have to keep environment in the centre while planning for development. Nature is alerting us with all possible ways that- it is urgent. Only environment based development is needed, we have to relinquish all other conventional model of development, so-called development of society, economic development of society, asserts Vajpayee.
Citing the history of beautification of ponds in Raipur, he asked – do you really feel any of these ponds look beautiful? Crores of government’s funds have been wasted on it and all this should be stopped immediately. Local self Government is beautifying selected ponds, but the way they are doing is damaging the ecology of the ponds. Quality of water is getting ruined and the key reason is beautification. Putting pavers on the bank of ponds in the name beautification spoils the capillaries and it hampers the permeating capacity.
When asked about the use of CAMPA fund to do forestation, experts said that CAMPA fund had been diverted. Central Chronicle shares its experience that under Smart City Project an old pond had been selected to do beautification and Rs 5 crore has been sanctioned for paver blocks and electric polls on the banks of the pond. On this, almost all the experts have opined that it is nothing but a sheer waste of resources. Dr Vajpayee said that it should be stopped forthwith. Call any expert and ask. Conventional ‘Peepal’ trees have been integral part of bank of ponds, there is reason behind it. Roots of those trees help purifying the pond-water naturally.
‘One more thing I would like to add is that we should stress upon planting the native plants instead exotic one’. Native plants are rampantly available for Rs 10 -20, whereas exotic plants are being sold for Rs 200 – 400. On top of all chances of grooming of native plants are high while chances of survival of exotic plants remain low comparatively. It is tangible why authorities are interested to plant exotic plants, quipped all the expert participants.
Amitabh Dubey – Environmentalist
‘Green Army’ is a voluntary organization which strive to make urban land greener keeping the environmental development as the centre of idea. Young professional Amitabh Dubey, a practicing Chartered accountant and a founder member of the ‘Green Army’ shared the assiduous efforts of his team that we have mixed sweet-n-sour experience in our journey towards making the urban landscape relatively more greener than what it is.
Amitabh said that we have meticulously mapped the sapling plantation programme for eleven years. We have divided entire city into more than 100 wards, whereas local self government has only 70 odd wards. Certain number of members of Green Army would self assign to look after the plants in each of the wards divided by our organization. He explain that since we have started this programme with zeal and energy of the Army and have been doing it with ‘Mission Mode’ from day one, that is way we love to be called ourselves – ‘Green Army’.
He said – we came across varied variety of personalities and experiences during our efforts. Once when we prompt a house owner whose house was under construction, to plant couple of saplings in front of his house, – ‘the house owner said arrange for me tree-guards to protect them and I do not have objections’. Amitabh quoted another example – when he asked local self Government to allow them for planting ‘Peepal saplings’ on the banks of one of the pond’s, we were answered that – Paver blocks have been fitted on the banks and we have mounted ornamental artificial palm trees, hence leaving no scope for plantation any more. This is how we ‘Green Army’ remain bereft of planting even 5 ‘Peepal’ trees on the banks of the pond for which we have expressed interest in.
On the other hand, we found many generous like- minded persons also who seemed to be readily ready to look after certain number of plants and take ownership of the plant make them grow, to get arranged adequate number of tree-guards and keeping someone on wages to get those saplings watered at their own expenses. Amitabh Dubey said – we have met such patron also who helped to boost our moral and efforts. On the basis of these experiences we ‘Green Army’ are hopeful that one day we will attain our goal to make the urban landscape more greener for sure.
Vinod Singh Thakur : (Asst. Director Jungle Safari) (ACF) Raipur
When discussing about the forest cover of Chhattisgarh, senior forest officer (ACF) Vinod Singh Thakur who is in-charge of Jungle Safari in Naya Raipur also has explained the nuances of our Jungle and challenges being faced by the department in forestation drive under various schemes.
Vinod Singh Thakur said that – we run ‘Poudh Pradai Yojana’ under this scheme we give saplings at dirt cheap price, Re one for each sapling. We can distribute it for free also but people do not take interest and we usually find sapling getting wasted and thrown unused. He explains that we give upto thousand saplings to the Industries assuring the better upkeep and safety of the plants.
He further explained about scheme which helps making man-made forest – ‘Nadi Taat Ropan Yojana’
We have been planting saplings on the either sides of the Mahanadi banks for last ten years. Now you may see our excellent efforts, the luxuriant green cover from Rajim to Arang from where Mahandi traverses. And this scheme is not confined to only Mahanadi, all the rivers are covered under this scheme. Thakur said that Chhattisgarh has sufficient forest cover. He said – Achanakmar area is the dense forest cover of Chhattisgarh.
When asked about the interest for plantation in the state among common people- he said , in urban areas people are getting more aware about the environment. People throng for plants when we advertise to allocate saplings.
He said we get very good response from the school which are covered with boundary wall. Students take ownership of the plant and do better upkeep. Resultantly school campuses are steadily getting greener with help of forest department.
Focusing upon various schemes Vinod Thakur said that – We run ‘Hariyali Prasaar Yojana’ ‘Baas Badi Yojana’ etc. Under Hariyali Yojana Bastar is doing excellent job. ‘Under Baas Badi Yojana’ we provide upto 500 saplings, even we help beneficiaries in digging pit for plantation.
He said in Bhadhrachalam Paper Factory they have introduced scheme under which they started selling plants and have started doing MoUs with buyers that they will buy-back their trees or shrubs to run paper mills. Viewing the response we have started ‘Hariyali Prasar Yojana’ under which we give 3 to 4 crore plants. This scheme had an excellent response in Narayanpur, Kondagaon and Bastart areas. When asked about CAMPA scheme- he said that – ‘Rules have changed in CAMPA now for non-forest area this fund is not allowed to be used, except under permission of the Collectors.
Eventually when asked about the Tusker menace in state Vinod Thakur informed that now-a-days wild boars are the much bigger problem than the Tuskers. Farmers are falling victim of wild boars in Rajim, Arang and Khroara region, spoiling the vegetable crops in these areas. According to the rough estimate about more than one lakh wild boars have become much bigger and worst menace ever faced by farmers of this region than the Tuskers.
He informed that in Chhattisgarh we have only 125 Elephants and only couple of them have strayed in Mahasmund area which are causing problem sporadically.
Prakash Savant : Environmentalist (PRO-CECB)
Environmentalist and PRO (CECB) Prakash Savant has also elaborated the Industrial waste and pollution status these days. When asked about the methods being adopted to curb the industrial pollution he said that – now curbing pollution in industries has been radically changed.
Now not even water waste of the industries is being reused but hot gaseous emission from Chimney is also being used to get other components heated. When asked about the Cement Industries known for emitting particles which settle on earth and make the soil solidify, spoils the fertility of the fields. Savant explains that gone are the days when it was considered as a big problem, now precipitators are being used to get the particles settled inside the chimney. Savant said that during our childhood days we have seen canals in Bhilai were running full to its brim. Water used in Bhilai Steel Plant those days was used to drained in canal left to be wasted.
But time has changed – Industries know the price of water which is getting precious day-by-day. Almost all the industries have started reusing their water waste. It saves the Energy and the revenue other way round.

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