New Delhi, Sep 9 (PTI) Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday called for making nature conservation a people's movement and appealed to all citizens, especially the youth, to actively take up the cause.
Speaking at a webinar here to mark 'Himalayan Day', he called for rethinking the development paradigm in such a way that human beings and nature co-exist and thrive together.
Naidu noted that the Himalayas are an invaluable treasure house and emphasised on the need for their protection and preservation.
He also called for a pan-Himalayan development strategy based on the region's natural resources, culture and traditional knowledge.
Drawing attention to the threat of degradation faced by the fragile Himalayan ecosystem, the vice president stressed that development should not be at the cost of environment.
Frequent natural calamities are a result of our carelessness towards the nature, he felt.
Highlighting the ecological, economic and cultural importance of the Himalayas, Naidu said in the absence of these mountains, India would have been a dry desert.
These mountain ranges not only guard our country from the cold and dry winds coming from Central Asia, but also cause most of the rainfall in northern India by acting as a barrier for the monsoon winds, he said.
Highlighting the contribution of the Himalayan ecosystem, Naidu said with more than 54,000 glaciers, these mountains are the source for 10 major river systems in Asia, a lifeline for almost half of humanity.
He also drew attention to the immense hydropower potential of the Himalayas which could make it a reliable source of clean energy thus reducing the carbon emissions.
Expressing concern over the increasing rate of melting of Himalayan glaciers due to global warming, the vice president said this would severely affect the lives of over one billion people who depend on it for water to fulfil their drinking, irrigation and energy needs.
“We cannot continue with this kind of disregard for nature. If we neglect or over exploit nature, we are putting our future in danger,” he warned.
Describing the conservation of nature as ‘Indian culture', he appealed to respect nature and preserve culture for a better future.
Drawing attention to the fact that local communities are dependent on forests for their agriculture and basic needs, the vice president called for creating a development model that maintains balance between economic activity and the pristine environment of the region.
This is important not only for Himalayan states, but for the future of all North Indian states dependent on rivers originating from there, he observed.
Suggesting that organic agriculture may be the best way forward in a fragile ecology, the VP appreciated states such as Sikkim, Meghalaya and Uttarakhand that have made strides in this direction.
He appealed to governments, scientists and universities to find solutions to the challenges faced by farmers in adopting organic farming.
Calling tourism an important route to economic development in the Himalayas, Naidu called for an ecosystem-based approach for tourism which is sustainable in long-term.
He called for creating awareness among the tourists as well as locals about the problem of ‘pollution, litter and solid waste’ affecting most high Himalayan tourist sites.
“People need to understand that if the environment degrades, tourism will also be impacted,” he noted.
On the occasion, Naidu was also virtually presented the copy of a book titled “Sansad Mein Himalaya” written by Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’.
PTI NAB SRY