Development needs to be regulated and it should not be at the cost of the environment, said Justice B Amit Sthalekar, Judicial Member of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), Kolkata. He warned that if the earth's temperature goes up with no effort to contain it, it will trigger the melting of glaciers around the world causing the sea level to rise and inundate coastal areas including cities like Mumbai and Kolkata.
Justice Sthalekar said this while speaking at the Odisha Environment Congress-2022 held at Siksha O' Anusandhan (SOA) university in Bhubaneswar on Saturday in association with NGT and Odisha State Legal Services Authority. Noting that development was taking place at the cost of environment, he said NGT had directed action against construction of resorts on the seashore in violation of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ).
"Such construction was taking place right on the beach though the CRZ rules don't allow any activity within 500 metres of the high tide line. It causes the beach to narrow down and makes the sea deep in that area which leads to the destruction of the beach itself," Justice Sthalekar said. You cannot play with environment, he told the large number of students attending the event, adding "be alive, alert and aware about the degradation of environment taking place around us.
Expressing dismay over the rampant use of plastic and polythene, Justice Sthalekar said he was of the view that the use of such substances, which don't degrade for 400 years and destroy the soil, should be completely stopped. "The ill-effects of modernism have been hitting us badly as use of earthen kullads' has been completely forgotten," he said saying there was a need to go back to the era when grocery items were delivered in paper bags.
"If we return to earthen kullads, it would not only generate employment but also help us to go back to nature," Justice Sthalekar said, adding "when we hurt nature, it will hit us back." Saibal Dasgupta, expert member, National Green Tribunal, Kolkata said 52.90 million tonne of solid waste was generated in the country annually of which plastic waste alone accounted for 5.6 million tonne. "About 78 per cent of this waste was collected of which only 25 per cent was processed," he said.
Dasgupta said India was among ten countries which had large forest cover accounting for 24.6 per cent of the total landmass with the dense forest area spread across 99,779 sq km. The forest cover in Odisha, he said, had increased by 537 sq km which was heartening.Prof Pradipta Kumar Nanda, Pro-Vice Chancellor of SOA, presided over the programme.