Activists call for dialogue on environmental policy


Shimla: Concerned over fast depleting environmental health of the state, environmentalists working in Himachal have raised concern over increasing activities of hydro power production, cement industries and indiscriminate mining and have asked the government to consider these factors seriously while framing its new environmental policy.
The activists, under the umbrella of Himalya Niti Abhiyaan Samiti, have written to the Chief Minister to involve them as well as the communities in debate over the policy. The Samiti has asked the government to ensure community participation in forestry so that the benefits of the carbon credit policy trickle down to the communities.
Kulbhushan Upamanyu of HNAS said that if a serious thought was not given to minimizing environmental damage by introducing strict environmental provisions, the government’s efforts to frame and implement an environmental policy would go futile. In the letter sent to the government he said, “Some of the activities need to be completely banned and alternate proposals, models and technologies will have to be adopted instead.”
The demand for implementation of the Forest Act 2006 throughout the state to recognize the community rights in forests and bio-diversity has also been raised. “The act that is presently applicable in tribal areas only, can be made an effective platform to make communities responsible towards forests and facilitate establishment of community forests”, said Upamanyu.
During the last term the BJP government had laid down several guidelines for a prospective policy in the year 2000, but the policy did not take shape. Now nearly eight years later when the government has picked up the same old thread a policy is being worked out in a new scenario where industrial development and projects of hydro power production has increased.

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