The Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi had once proclaimed, What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed. Gandhi, being a true visionary of the times ahead, had rightly warned the citizens of this vast country, of the need to conserve and protect our environment, as it shapes the future of its civilisations.
In Haryana, this problem of environment pollution must be attended more urgently and effectively, as the presence of industries, both large and small, has unpurified the air which is inhaled, the water which is used and the lands where agricultural products are grown.
Firstly, practices of environment protection must be made more nuanced and interwoven in three different aspects education and awareness of the masses, question of ethics and by implementing environmental legislations. This must be the work of not only the government, but also of a number of private organisations as well as individual enterprises. The Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) has intervened at environment protection by enacting Environmental Laws, the most salient ones being National Environmental Policy of 2006, Biomedical Waste (Management and Handling) (Amendment) Rules of 2003, Noise Pollution Rules of 2000, Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1981, Public Liabilities Insurance Act and E-Waste (Management and Handling) Rules of 2011. In other words, the government of Haryana has rightly acknowledged the degradation of biophysical environment in the state, owing to population explosion and introduction and use of rapidly- growing technology in the industrial and agricultural sectors of Haryana's economy. The problem of environmental degradation is so pressing in the state that the Haryana Government had allotted as much as Rs. 4,570 lakh to the HSPCB Department in the financial year 2013-14, greater than the estimates of the previous years. The question that arises here is, are measures of environmental protection being taken uniformly across the state, or are they being concentrated only in a few quarters in Haryana? The answer is both yes and no.
Environmental resource management is being done by the government in mainly five aspects controlling air pollution, water pollution, soil pollution, noise pollution and waste production management and recycling. The government's policies in combating these five environmental hazards are inconsistent. For instance, as per the HSPCB reports, continuous ambient air quality monitoring is done in only four cities in Haryana Faridabad, Gurgaon, Panchkula and Rohtak, these being industrial belts in the state.
But to address the question of air pollution across the state, it is essential that such monitoring be carried out in all cities and villages of the state. It must be ensured that the government implements its directives of environmental standards across the whole state. For instance, the government must strictly impose its standard for discharge of suspended solids, which is 100 mg/litre for inland surface water, 600 mg/litre for public sewers and 200 mg/litre for land for irrigation, in all corners of Haryana, and not in industrial cities alone. This way, the question of environment conservation can be addressed holistically.
Public awareness through education must be made available to the citizens, so that they can share the responsibility of saving the environment and safeguarding their future. A number of academic institutions have incorporated compulsory environmental study-related courses in their curriculum. Besides, the role of the NGOs to spread awareness among people for conservation of energy is critical. Small steps in everyday domestic and public activities can contribute towards saving the earth from its hazardous degradation. Collaboration of the Haryana government with international organisations like the WHO, UN can lead to the implementation of various treaties to control the damages resulting from human action on natural resources.
Let us remember, that as ethical human beings, it is our right and duty to preserve the environment that we live in. Dreaming of a clean and green Haryana can become a reality only when, as responsible citizens and as an ideal government, more stringent measures are taken to preserve the natural resources of Haryana.