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Environment degradation, climate change key challenges for mankind: Hamid Ansari

(Left to right) Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu, minister of state for environment, forest and climate change (independent charge) Prakash Javadekar, Vice-President Hamid Ansari, attorney general for India Mukul Rohatgi and chairperson of National Green Tribunal Justice Swatanter Kumar at the inauguration of the  “International Conference on Global Environment Issues”, in New Delhi on Saturday. Photo: Manvender Vashist/PTI Premium
(Left to right) Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu, minister of state for environment, forest and climate change (independent charge) Prakash Javadekar, Vice-President Hamid Ansari, attorney general for India Mukul Rohatgi and chairperson of National Green Tribunal Justice Swatanter Kumar at the inauguration of the “International Conference on Global Environment Issues”, in New Delhi on Saturday. Photo: Manvender Vashist/PTI

Vice-president says India needs to pay greater attention towards managing natural resources through eco-friendly policies, while making pollution costlier for polluters

New Delhi: Highlighting environment degradation and climate change as the foremost challenges confronting human civilization, vice-president Hamid Ansari on Saturday said India needs to pay greater attention to the management of all natural resources through eco-friendly policies, regulatory frameworks, pricing of natural resources and making pollution costlier for the polluter.

“For us in India, the challenges of arresting the pace of degradation of environment are formidable due to the imperatives of maintaining high economic growth, increasing trends of urbanization, population growth, industrialization, unmet basic needs, life style changes and biotic pressures," said Ansari at the inauguration of the “International Conference on Global Environment Issues" organized by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), along with the Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), the Indian Law Institute and industry lobby Ficci.

Ansari said that to address global environmental concerns, India prefers an “aspirational" rather than a mandatory or “prescriptive" approach, “but whatever our respective national positions on these issues, the protection and preservation of environment is the common responsibility of all humanity."

Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu, environment minister Prakash Javadekar, NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar were among the judges, environmentalists, scientists, lawyers, experts and members of the civil society who took part in the conference.

Javadekar, while speaking at the conference, said the government advocates development without destruction and is working towards amending policies in line with environment protection.

“The international conference has brought together the three pillars of Indian democracy—executive, judiciary and legislature—under one roof. The three bodies should work in tandem and respect the aspirations of India’s poor and work towards achieving a sustainable development model," said Javadekar.

The comments are significant as the environment ministry and the judiciary, including NGT, has been at loggerheads over the latter’s decisions that have stalled several projects the government had been pushing for India’s growth on account of environmental concerns.

He also said his ministry had been working till recently without a single advocate, but corrective measures have been taken. “Everyday when newspaper clippings come...and I see directions coming from different courts. This is a regulatory ministry without a single advocate. I am correcting the situation in-house and I ensure that next time these people will be more prepared to inform the courts," he added.

Javadekar also said the government has proposed to launch ‘Fresh Air is a Birthright’, a campaign, through public-private partnership on serious concerns over worsening air pollution in the capital and other cities.

Justice Dattu said the global community was united on the issue of protection and prevention of environment.

He said every citizen has a right to live with dignity and the judiciary “is forging its way ahead to provide this fundamental right to all its citizens".

“Therefore, the need is to address environmental issues prudently and urgently," he said while citing instances where the judiciary had taken up a pro-active role to protect and preserve the environment.

The chief Justice also stressed on the problem of e-waste and quality of water, while

emphasizing on the importance of rehabilitating and re-location of people who were displaced owing to these decisions.

Justice Swatanter Kumar said “climate change, global warming and natural disasters are a wake-up call to humanity that they should stop polluting the earth and the need of the hour is to strive a symbiotic relationship with the environment through sensitive and researched environmental management, adaptation, mitigation and risk reduction".

Mukul Rohatgi, attorney general for India, also highlighted the role of the judiciary in the protection and prevention of environment.

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