SRINAGAR: Every now and then, the government through its public information department disburses information about its seriousness of keeping the environment safe. More than a dozen departments are at work for the purpose, implementing scores of laws meant for saving the environment. But the government is yet to clear the Environmental Policy, the file of which is making rounds for many years to get the needed approval.
And this is despite the fact that degradation of the environment is on a large scale everywhere. The draft of the Environment Policy which was prepared by the Department of Ecology, Environment and Remote Sensing more than three years back, remains hanging, shifting from one department to the other.
The policy was drafted to direct efforts towards environmental issues and four weeks’ time was given to seek comments and suggestions from stakeholders, Non-Governmental Organisations, civil society groups and government departments.
“The process has all happened, but the approval is still awaited,” said officials in the know of the status of the policy. “The absence of policy means that the government doesn’t have any action plan to address the causes of degradation.”
This approach is the same as that of the previous political government towards the issue.
Sources said, “What to talk of previous governments when even the present administration is not paying any attention towards the necessity of having an Environment Policy.”
From the government’s media blitzkrieg of actions taken to conserve water bodies, forests, and mountains, one can make a guess of how much the government wants to advertise its concern for the environment. But not even a single environment report prepared by any leading research body suggests any improvement in the health of the environment in Jammu and Kashmir. According to the well-known Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSW), all the 10 glaciers in Jammu and Kashmir are among the 39 glaciers in India that have been found to be at high risk. As per the report, these glaciers are melting fast, with a 40 percent increase in their water levels recorded in the last decade.
What can this change in glacier conditions do to life on earth? Researchers have found that it can first fill up the glacial lakes with earth, which can cause floods beyond control of the existing infrastructure.
“The glaciers need to be monitored closely to avoid any disasters,” the report warns.
In this case a clear environmental policy could have speeded up the work towards the protection of the glaciers.
Officials said that the non-serious approach of the forest department is the key hurdle in getting the policy approved.