The Ugly Truth! Of bio-diversity hotspots and Degrading Environment in Meghalaya


SHILLONG, June 05: In a war where nature is concerned, human greed is the enemy and resolving the problems of climate change is the ultimate goal, victory can be achieve only through a joint intervention of all stakeholders — in one word — Humans.

In these lines, Meghalaya's  renowned environmentalist and member of the Meghalaya People's Environment Rights Forum (MPERF) Naba Bhattacharjee noted that the tides can turn in the war against environmental degradation inflicted by humans upon themselves only if everyone takes part in the battle.

The ugly truth! A state which is known as one of the bio-diversity hot spots is facing the brunt of 'modern civilisation' and open dug up pits, thinning forest cover, rivers and streams changing colours depicts the grim state of affairs of the degrading environment in the state.

"It is an irony that we have to talk about the environment of Meghalaya which has been so rich and pristine and has a tradition and history of conservation", said renowned Environmentalist of the state, Naba Bhattacharjee who has been for the past ten to twelve years crusading towards safeguarding the environment.

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"The greed has overtaken the need and everybody should joins hand and turn it into a people's movement. The vigilant nature of the people should come to the fore if we are to make any meaningful intervention," he added.

He also said, "I don't want to blame just the government or the department. It has to be a joint effort of the public and all the stake holders. We have to go back to the traditional wisdom which existed here. Look at the sacred forest how life was closely related. Unless people come forward and support the cause it is difficult".

Stating that tourism, horticulture, agriculture and going organic are the four sectors where the economy rests as large scale industries are not possible here, Bhattacharjee said, "Nothing is going to work as for these four sectors you need revival of our entire environment and bio-diversity".

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"Nothing moves here it is just mere rhetoric and nothing else," he added.

Pointing out that mere symbolic representation like holding functions and programmes to observe World Environment Day once a year or cleaning Wahmukhrah once in a while is not helping much, Bhatacharjee said, "I don't believe in this one day symbolic and spending money. It does not help It has to be a daily affair. Start by cleaning your mind, house, locality and the state."

It may be mentioned that Bhattacharjee refused to accept the award of recognition offered to him by Mylliem block.

Stating that the environment degradation is rampant in the state and basing his findings on the ground work taken up by him, Bhatacharjee said, "You cannot hide things by giving statistics in paper. We work in the field we know the extent of deforestation. Our rivers are defiled our natural resources are being plundered and our hills are being cut".

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While few battles have been won the recent being the NGT blanket ban on coal mining, questions on ways and means to revive the depleted environment are often raised.

Informing that more than 800 crores have been collected for the environment restoration funds for mining, Bhatacharjee questioned. "What has happened to that money or how is it being utilised?"

"I am filing a PIL based on interlocutory and intervention application in the NGT to know about the outcome of this 800 crores. It is not a small amount. How much of that money has been utilised and ploughed back into the mining area," he added.

"What has been destroyed in the past three decades will take another six decades to restore but we need to make a beginning somewhere," he opined.

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On smart city ranking , he said, "We have lost out on smart cities mainly because of the funding pattern. They (centre) have got 800 crores you (state government) can put 50 percent from there what stops u?

"There is a lack of will on the part of the government to do something. If the government acts people will fall in line," he added.

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