Green policies: Cosmetic changes without vision

 It has also adopted a policy to desilt tanks and ponds. It has made water harvesting compulsory for buildings to be built in Bangalore.

These policy measures have been announced with a lot of enthusiasm as well as concern for the environment and natural resources. But have they been implemented? Has the government initiated steps to protect the health of the people and soil?
Organic Farming: The setting up and spending of Rs 50 crore by the OFM is hailed as a great achievement. Under this mission, thousands of farmers took a oath in front of the Vidhana Soudha to adopt organic farming practices. This is a good beginning.

However, when it comes to ground realities, status quo has been maintained and the craze for chemical farming is in full swing. The government has not altered the mainstream policy of subsidising the chemical input for conventional agriculture. There is no support for the farmer, who practices chemical-free farming. Can he get subsidy for the farmyard manure that is manufactured locally, which is not dependent on fossil fuel? Is it possible for him to get a premium price for the organic produce that has not polluted soil and water?

The high talk on propagation of organic agriculture by Chief Minister B S Yeddurappa has had least impact on the ground in the state. The recent seed riots in Ranebennur and the last year’s fertiliser riots in Haveri are a clear indicator to the deeply entrenched chemical lobby that is determined to destroy the health of the soil and that of farmers.

The government needs to realise that in order to implement its policies of organic farming, it has to address the basic problems of farming. It cannot practice a dual policy of supporting chemical farming and genetically modified crops as well as talk of organic farming.

Western Ghats: The Malenadu region in Karnataka, in Western Ghats represents one of the most fragile ecosystems in the world. Realising its importance, the government has set up the WGTF to initiate policies to conserve the resources like forests and rivers. It has created high hopes among environmentalists, that something concrete will be done to protect this ecosystem.

As the objective of setting up of the task force is ambiguous, it claims to bring out a policy on conservation of biodiversity, and claims to protect the ecologically important sites in Western Ghats. These high promises evaporate when we check the actions on the ground.

Recently, the chief minister laid the foundation stone for the Gundya Hydro electric project in Western Ghats, in total disregard to the opposition by local people and environmentalists. There must have been compelling reasons for him to take steps to launch projects that address the problem of power shortage.

But it is pathetic that the head of the state laid the foundation stone in total violation of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980. Under this Act, it is mandatory to get clearance form the environment and forest ministry for the project that submerges 500 hectares of forestland.

The government has attempted cosmetic changes without a clear vision. The chocking of cities with polluted air, destruction of water resources of rivers due to pollution by industrial units, and increased use of chemicals in agriculture have already led to crisis situation. The need of the hour is to address these basic issues and find a way out to protect the basic capital of soil, water and air that are essential for survival.

In order to do this it will need to adopt polices that support green actions on the ground. It will need to charter a new path of development based on energy conservation and protecting the forests and rivers.

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