Shimla: Noted environmentalist Vandana Shiva today expressed deep concern over illegal mining and allotment of hundreds of hydel projects and construction of cement plants in the hill state of Himachal. While participating in a three-day conference organised by Himachal Pradeesh Institute of Himalayan Study, she said there is an immediate need for strengthening and corroborating the scattered peoples’ movements in the area.
She advised the people of Himachal to file a PIL on the lines of famous Doon Valley limestone case, which had disallowed commerce to spoil the environment and snatch the right to life of general public. Shiva said virgin lands like Himachal and Uttarakhand should be saved from MNCs like Cargill and Monsanto who are ready to attack the tribal lands and drain them out of their natural resources.
“The need of the hour is to make the hill States totally organic and their soil free of chemicals,” she said. Mocking at new slangs like “carbon neutrality” picked up by governments, she said let these states become “carbon positive” and create living carbon from our biodiversity. “At least 40 per cent of carbon absorption can be done in the soil by increasing green cover,” she said. She demanded from the government to make an organic policy for the hill state and become a total organic state like Kerala. She also ridiculed the new “Polyhouse farming” scheme initiated by the state government here and advised the farmers not to grow just cash crops or off-season vegetables for the outside markets but attain “Swaraj” (independence) in producing good seeds and food by their own water and land. She said the constitution has given the rights to the State to decide their own agricultural policy and not to succumb under any type of food dictatorship in the country. “Bio-diversity is the real capital with the community and it should not be given to private companies,” she added.
Earlier, inaugurating the conference on ‘Himalayan Environment Issues and Challenges’, Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said that public awareness was essential to protect environment and also for rational use of natural resources.