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Importance of Sustainable Environmental Planning in India

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.

These are the words of Mahatma Gandhi. This very quote tells us about the kind of development we need for ourselves. The one to satisfy our needs or the development that satisfies our greed. And if we want our needs to satisfied, we must respect Mother Nature.

Environmental Benefits

The environment has always been known as the provider of natural services to human beings and other species. For example, the forests remove carbon dioxide and other harmful pollutants from the air we breathe and also keeps the air temperatures cool, reduces the formation of ground-level ozone which is very harmful to us and it forms just above the earth’s surface, a pollutant that can cause heart and lung problems to worsen, wetlands which store storm water, recharging of the aquifers and the dune systems on the beaches that form natural barriers to storm waves and provide important habitat and travel ways for wildlife.

Effect of urbanization on the environment

Along with the changing time, our needs are also changing. The environment has been affected in a very negative way by us. Unfortunately, humans have turned a blind eye towards the environment. The numerous development activities like the construction of dams, factories and industries, building for residential purposes, schools and colleges. And all of these require a large area which is fulfilled by deforestation. And deforestation leads to million other problems like loss of habitats, loss of vegetation and that leads to soil erosion and then major disaster as floods and landslides occur. In simple words, it just disturbs the balance of the environment. The alarming increase in the development is also responsible for the increase in the percentage of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere which in turn leads to global warming.

And in a country like India, we must understand that it does not only require development but also sustainable development. We must understand that sustainable development is the organizing principle for meeting the human development goals and at the same time sustaining the natural ability of the natural system to provide the natural resource and ecosystem services upon which the economy, as well as the society, depends.

Environmental Planning
Environmental Planning Visual Representation

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How do we achieve sustainable development?

The protection of the environment is needed for sustainable development. ((P.J, 2020)). And that can be achieved through careful planning of the environment. Firstly let’s understand the meaning of environmental planning. Environmental planning is the process of evaluating how social, political, economic and governing factors affect the natural environment when considering development. The main objective of environmental planning is to come up with a mutually beneficial situation for society and the environment. With successful environmental planning, society can use the area in productive ways, and the environment sustains itself for future generations. (Environmental Planning & Decision Making: Definition & Components, 2013)

Therefore we must take environmental planning seriously as sustainable development is very much required for developing countries and sustainable development has led to an increase in the economic stability, employment generation, productivity and the GDP of the country.

Development can be continued by minimizing threats to the environment. Various international and national laws have been adopted for the safeguard of the environment. For example, the Stockholm Conference in 1972, Earth Summit in Rio de Janerio in the year 1992, World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in the year 2002, etc.

Environmental planning in India

Environment planning in India began in the early 1970s, after the Human Environment Conference at Stockholm which was held by the United Nations. It was after attending this conference that the government of India became aware of issues relating to the environment. The outcome of this was the formation of the National Committee on Environmental Planning and Co-ordination (NCEPC) which was set up by the government of India. As a result of uncontrolled urbanization and the increase in deforestation, the government felt an urgent need for environmental planning. Environment planning in India includes surveys, conservation of fauna and flora, afforesting and control and prevention of pollution.

Various environmental issues were emphasized in the fourth and the fifth year plan by the planning commission of India. The ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) was established in the mid – 1980s by the government of India. The main objective of this ministry is to plan, implement and promote programs that are intended to conserve the environment and forest. Various offices, independent agencies and institutions have been set up to implement environment planning in India. More than 1 lakh forest management committees have been set up at the village level. The FMC aims at regenerating 22 million hectares of forest.

The Founding fathers of the Indian Constitution were very aware of the importance of Natural resources and Environmental Benefits. There are several provisions provided in the Indian Constitution for the protection of the environment, for example Environment Protection Act, Wildlife Preservation Act, Biodiversity Conservation Act, water and Air pollution prevention Acts etc. Judiciary plays a vital role in the protection of the Environment. Several other laws are amended from time to time as per requirement:-

  • Article 51: Fundamental duties, instructs every citizen of the country to protect improve the natural forest, lakes, river and to have compassion for wildlife.
  • Article 48 (A): The state shall endeavor to protect and improve the environment to safeguard the forest and the wildlife of the country.

Therefore environmental protection is the basic requirement for sustaining healthy life on the globe. There are several examples to prove that environmental protection and development can go together.

  • India’s first smart and green highway – the eastern peripheral expressway which is lit by solar power and also has a provision of rainwater harvesting. More than 2.5 lakh trees have been planted along the expressway including transplant of 8-10 year old trees. It also has a drip irrigation provision.
  • Kerala’s Ashtamudi estuary for sustainable fishing– Kerala received its first Marine Stewardship Council-certified fishery in India. The Ashtamudi Estuary displays to the world that development and environment protection go hand in hand.(Correspondent, 2016)

We need more such business models and people to enter into the development spaces with initiatives like these and more of planning the environment for  sustainable growth.

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Conclusion

Developing countries have to give environmental planning importance if they want a future for their people. Development and environmental planning are intertwined. We can’t deal with one without dealing with the other. And we have to change the current mindset of people which is, to put economic development and sustainable development in different boxes. We have to change this thinking that protecting the environment impedes development. But rather think the environment in terms of the natural services it provides, then that mindset can change. We can comprehend and understand its worth and see the environment as a series of assets that development depends upon.

Author Bio: Aishwarya Grace Abraham, is a second year student of Bachelor of Technology (Planning) at Jawaharlal Nehru Architecture and Fine Arts University. The reason I chose this particular field is because whatever we do in this field is for the public and for developing the place we live into a better one. I love learning about new things and I would love to bring a positive change in this society with my work.

References

  1. The enhanced greenhouse effect. (2017, November 7). Curious. https://www.science.org.au/curious/earth-environment/enhanced-greenhouse-effect
  2. Sustainable development: Meaning, history, principles, pillars, and implications for human action: Literature review. (2019). Taylor & Francis Online. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23311886.2019.1653531
  3. J, Dr. S. (2020). Protection of Environment For Sustainable Development. http://www.employmentnews.gov.in/Protection%20of%20Environment%20.pdf
  4. Environmental Planning & Decision Making: Definition & Components. (2013, September 19). Retrieved from https://study.com/academy/lesson/environmental-planning-decision-making-definition-components.html.
  5. Website of Ministry of Environment and Forests. (2020). National Portal of India. https://www.india.gov.in/official-website-ministry-environment-and-forests-0
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  7. Vinay Vaish, Partner, Vaish Associates Advocates. (2017, August 31). Environment Laws In India. Environment – India. https://www.mondaq.com/india/waste-management/624836/environment-laws-in-india
  8. Correspondent, S. (2016, November 8). Kerala’s Ashtamudi lake gets recognition for sustainable clam fishing. The Hindu. https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/Kerala%E2%80%99s-Ashtamudi-lake-gets-recognition-for-sustainable-clam-fishing/article10999934.ece
  9. India’s First Smart And Green Highway : Latest Current Affairs and News – Current Affairs Today. (2018). Gk Today. https://currentaffairs.gktoday.in/tags/indias-first-smart-and-green-highway