By Our Staff Reporter
Dehradun, 8 Sep: Renowned scientists, civil society leaders, social scientists, journalists and experts from diverse fields of academia today expressed concern at the fraught relationship between the environment and development, and called for well-planned sustainable development in the state of Uttarakhand and other Himalayan regions.
Participating in a national webinar organised by the Department of Economics, School of Social Sciences, Doon University, the speakers emphasised the need for Uttarakhand to adopt a unique sustainable development vision that was emphasised during the statehood agitation, with harmony between environmentalism and developmental models.
Stressing that there is no dichotomy necessarily between environment and economics, former Vice Chancellor of HNB Gahrwal University and renowned ecologist Prof SP Singh said developmental planning should be initiated following adequate scientific research for sustainable development.
In her presidential address, Doon University Vice Chancellor Prof Surekha Dangwal elaborated upon the university’s vision and commitment for research and policy recommendations towards an environmentally sustainable and economically viable state. “We have already started taking steps in this direction and are in the process of developing necessary infrastructure and human resources towards this end,” she said.
Eminent geologist Prof Navin Juyal emphasised on the need to conduct scientific studies and heed the recommendations of relevant experts before implementing mega projects in the region. The sort of development model that has been pursued and resultant impacts, specially climate change, have sparked fresh fears about further aggravating geomorphological processes such as floods, soil erosion and landslides, he said.
Senior journalist Sushil Bahuguna said that large hydro power projects had not resulted in accruing desired benefits to the people and hence there was a need to review this policy.
ICAR-Vivekanand Parvatiya Krishi Anusandhan Sansthan, Almora, Director Dr Lakshmi Kant said appropriate, suitable and remunerative agriculture needs to be initiated in a sustainable manner, given the manifestations of climate change such as erratic rainfall, soil erosion and landslides in the region and in view of the nature and size of landholdings.
Professor Rajendra Mamgain, Head of the Department of Economics, Doon University, said that economic development can’t be wished away citing environmental concerns but also can’t be pursued at the cost of the environment, either. Critically looking at the patterns of migration in Uttarakhand, he stressed on the need for employment generation in the out-migration hit state.
Dr Manab Chakrovraty, Director, Partners-in-Prosperity, highlighted the disconnect between environment and development, alienation of youth and women and lack of attention given to primary education in the state while emphasising on some policy options towards livelihood and employment.
Wrapping up the webinar, Prof Harsh Dobhal of Doon University said that policy disconnect was still widening between Uttarakhand’s inherent geological instabilities, increasing vulnerability to climate change and its development strategy which is by and large manufacturing, construction, hospitality and service sector-based. Striking a balance between these factors can lead to desired change and sustainable development with regard to livelihoods, viable agriculture, employment opportunities, migration, and most importantly, equity.
The webinar was moderated by Shikha of Department of Economics and participants included Prof SP Sati, Dr MS Mandrawal, Dr Vijay Sridhar, Rahul Saxena and other students and teachers from universities.