Ensuring environmental sustainability
Promotion of human welfare and well – being, i.e., initiatives must be built into sustainable development policy to ensure “macro coherency” to prevent environmental degradation in order that rights, needs and interest of local people in general and of the more marginal group in particular are protected. The attitude of some economist treating environment as an externality” to normal economic accounting is no longer justified and in future, environment impact of development projects has to be taken as seriously as production targets.
As human development depends on the carrying capacity of the ecological systems, it can take place only on the foundation of the continued maintenance of the stability, integrity, adaptability and resilience of the dynamic ecological system. The concept of environmental stability thus signifies the perennial concern and responsibility of human being for the continued protection and improvement of the natural environment in their material pursuits. For, only the human- the most, intelligent of all living creatures of Nature, have the moral, social, political, cultural and legal responsibility to effectively play the role of the savior, guardian and protector of the environmental, economic, cultural and political sustainability at all level. For it is the human who unlike the other form of living organisms, such as plants and animals, driven more by greed than by need exceed the limits set by natural and have the propensity and capacity to destroy it. It is human more than other living forms who have to shoulder the obligation and the responsibility for safeguarding, protecting, conserving and developing the life supporting system of ecosystem not only for meeting the needs of the present but also those of the future generation.
Sustainable development is the process of improving the quality of life of human being within and between nations in ways that sustain and protect the natural environment biodiversity. In other words, sustainable development should mean both the sustainable of the biophysical environment, the latter sustaining the former and social-cultural, and politico- economic sustainability.
The concept of Sustainable Development formalized by Brundtland Report, Our Common Future [WCED, 1987] and the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (Agenda 21) remains mired in terminological and conceptual ambiguities as well as in disagreements about fact and practical implications. The dynamic process of sustainable development will be applied by different countries in tune with their own cultural, political and economic perspectives. It has been defined as hereunder.
Sustainable Development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generation to meet their own needs
Improving the quality of human life while being within the carrying capacity of supporting ecosystem.
Economic growth that provides fairness and opportunity for all the world’s people, not just the privileged few, without further destroying the world’s finite natural resources and their carrying capacity.
Some Dimension disciplines place different interpretation on the concept of sustainable viability. Economists emphasize the maintenance and improvement of the living standard of human beings, ecologists and scientists express concern about preserving the adaptability and function of entire ecological and biophysical system; geographers and anthropologists focus on the viability of social and cultural system and political scientists emphasize the need to establish a political order based on the foundations of equality, liberty, justice, fraternity, rule of law, non-violence, and human rights at various level- local, national and global i.e., a new more equality world order. In any discussion of environment sustainability social, political, economic and cultural issues come into play in a number of ways. Sustainable development cannot be separated neatly from the economic or the social dimension. Any attempt to do so would encourage piecemeal strategies of investments that have failed to improve the status of people : partial policies fail. Integrated policies may have a chance to succeed. Far more than environment friendly technology it involves paradigm chance, changes in life styles and attitudes towards natural eco system.
Reservoirs/dams and mega dams such as the Narmada Sagar Project in Madhaya Pardesh, Sardar Sarovar Project in Gujarat on the river Narmada with the assistance of the world Bank and the corollary problem of rehabilitation and resettlement of the displaced. Though the Department of Environment and Forest knew about the shortcoming of the project reports prepared by the project authorities, they still gave qualified clearance to both the projects in 1989. Studies reveal that out of a total of 212 dam projects have not complied with environmental safeguards (India Today,1995; 96 – 101) . Building of dams not only causes deforestation but creates untold human miseries for millions of the affected people like tribals, hill area dwellers and agriculturist. It is estimated that between 20-30 million people have been displaced as a result of dams built in India. Of this, only 20-30 per cent have been rehabilitated.
In the field of wildlife protection India’s success in rapidly expanding its network of wildlife protected areas since Independence has been quite “extraordinary”. From a modest 65 national parks and sanctuaries in 1960, these have increased to 445 in 1989 and the number is growing. The achievement in this field has been “remarkable” largely due to the efforts of government functionaries and NGOs. Whatever ails might or might not have been achieved, at least the need and urgency ti bring more and more natural areas under protection accepted as a priority for the nation.