The Fact News Service
Mohali, May 7
Asserting that nature has been harmed beyond repair in the human race’s quest for development, Vice President of India, M. Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday called for a people’s movement of eco-conscious lifestyles enabled by serious introspection and bold actions and policies to combat the impact of climate change and protect the environment.
“Man has tinkered too long with nature and now there is an urgent need to reverse this hazardous trend. It is not only the government’s duty, but it is the duty of every citizen and human being on earth to save this planet,” said Naidu, while speaking after inaugurating a two-day international conference on ‘Environmental Diversity & Environmental Jurisprudence: National & International Perspective’ organised by Chandigarh University, at its Gharuan campus.
Governor of Punjab, and Administrator, UT Chandigarh, Shri Banwarilal Purohit, Hon’ble Justices of the Supreme Court of India, Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant, United Nation Resident Commissioner in India, Shombi Sharp, Justice Shri Mohammad Rafiq, Chief Justice, High Court of Himachal Pradesh, representatives from 20 countries including Judges, High Commissioner, Ambassadors, Environmentalists, Lawyers, Experts in Biodiversity and Environmental Jurisprudence from all over the globe, former Supreme Court Judge and former NGT chairman, Justice (Retd.) Swatanter Kumar, Satnam Singh Sandhu, Chancellor, Chandigarh University, besides 4000 students participated on day one of the conference, which is being organised with a vision to formulate the roadmap and future direction to India’s efforts at attaining the global targets for environment protection and climate change.
In his inaugural address, Naidu said that man-made causes have led to climate change as well as driving a million species to extinction.
“We have harmed nature beyond repair, destroyed forests, disrupted the ecological balance, and are now reaping the adverse consequences. There is a need to do serious introspection and take bold actions to mitigate the reality of rising temperatures, increasing extreme events and diminishing biodiversity,” said Naidu, who was the chief guest at the ceremony.
Noting that Indian civilizational values have always worshipped nature, Naidu said that the concept of environmental protection is embedded in our DNA, and both our scriptures and our constitution enshrine the principles of environmental protection.
Quoting Mahatma Gandhi’s statement: ‘Nature has enough for man’s need but not for his greed’, Naidu said that students have to be made aware of the carbon and ecological footprint of their lifestyle choice at an early age.
The Vice President said that India has been leading the way for the world in forging a collective action by various countries under the International Solar Alliance as seen in the recent COP26 Summit in Glasgow.
“In the words of the Prime Minister, what we need is a mass movement of eco-conscious lifestyles. To be able to achieve the 1.5°C global warming limit, we must aim at both macro-level systemic changes as well as micro-level lifestyle choices. We need a people’s movement for environmental protection. Unless environmental protection becomes a people’s movement, our future is bleak”, he emphasized.
Lauding the Indian higher judiciary for upholding environmental justice over the years, he suggested that “lower courts too must uphold an eco-centric view and keep the best interests of the local populations and biodiversity in their judgments.” He called for stringent action against violators of pollution laws and strict enforcement of the ‘Polluter Must Pay’ principle.
Highlighting the contributions of the National Green Tribunal, Naidu called for training more legal practitioners in environmental law, making poorer sections aware of their rights, creating of specialized benches, and making legislations that maintain a fine balance between ‘ecology and economy’.
Emphasising the importance of such international conferences, Shri Naidu said that “we have to learn from each other globally and adopt best practices from all over the world”.
He appreciated Chandigarh University for its initiative and hoped the conference will open a new chapter in environmental protection in the country.
Speaking on the occasion, Hon’ble Governor, Punjab, and Administrator, UT Chandigarh Shri Banwarilal Purohit said that human development in the 21st century is directly linked to protecting environmental resources from mindless consumption and destruction.
“There is a need to synergize economic development and environmental resources. We need to usher a movement that involves the people – “People’s Participation”. It is only when we give people a direct stake in protecting the environment that they will become active partners of Government,” said Governor, who presided over the inaugural ceremony.
Noting that human beings have always exploited nature for a comfortable life, Justice Shri Mohammad Rafiq, Chief Justice, High Court of Himachal Pradesh, said that well-thought-out policies and active participation of youth is necessary to ensure ecological balance.
Addressing the gathering, Chancellor of Chandigarh University, S. Satnam Singh Sandhu said that climate change and environment justice is a global issues, and this conference is a unique platform where voice from all over the globe will be discussing and deliberating the roadmap for a better world of tomorrow. This is also an experiential learning for our students and the next crop of lawyers, Sandhu added.
“The Chandigarh University will prepare a detailed report and roadmap, and present it to the Government of India, based on discussions and consultations with the participants during this conference,” said the Chancellor.
In the concluding ceremony of the conference scheduled for Sunday, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Bhupinder Yadav will be the chief guest.