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Cheaper cars will hurt environment, says book

Last updated on: May 10, 2011 12:20 IST

Cheaper cars will hurt environment, says book

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The race among Indian automobile manufacturers to make cheap cars, initiated by Tata's Nano will further create pollution, road congestion, global warming and health problems, says a new book.

"The lure of speedy progress and big money is simply intoxicating for the Indian lawmakers, bureaucrats and corporate houses that they choose to adopt an extremely myopic vision as if there will be no tomorrow. It ignores all warning signals of environmental degradation," says the book, Trees Incredible: Life Sustaining Lives by Madan Mohan Pant, a former Indian Forest Service official.

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"Tata motors has now the unique distinction of making the world's cheapest, Rs 1,00,000, pioneer Nano car.
"It has set in motion a competition for the production of cheap cars.

"The increased demand for fossil fuels, roads and infrastructure would further create environmental problems," says the book.

Apart from discussing the necessary linkages and interactions between natural elements and trees in a life sustaining environment, the book also shares interesting information related to trees.

It says that on an average, a living tree contributes vital services worth more than Rs 40,000 per year for our survival in India.

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However, if tree's intrinsic spiritual, cultural and rejuvenation values, its air conditioning, temperature moderating and soil building services are added, this amount would be much higher.

The book, published by Rupa & Co refers to a research finding by the United States Dept of Agriculture, which states that over a 50-year lifetime, an average tree provides us services worth $162, 000.

The book says the British had adapted environment governance practices from the best European schools, to suit the diverse types of forests and conditions of rivers in India but in the twilight of independence, there was a kind of 'loot of the vast and unlocked' forest.

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"Tree-cutting gave cash and land, almost instantly. This was because forestry was controlled by state governments who had limited staff and no political will to implement the National Forest Policy," says the book.

According to a report submitted to the United Progressive Alliance government by the first National Forest Commission in 2006, the country has already lost 41 per cent of its forest cover.

Pant hails former Prime Ministers of India, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi as 'green political pioneers' in India and says after their demise, India lost the political will essential to conserve forests.

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The author has worked with the Food and Agriculture Organization as chief technical advisor, consultant co-ordinator, team leader in Bhutan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Jordan.

The compulsions of coalition politics since 1991, after the death of Rajiv Gandhi, have sounded the death knell for forests and natural resources in the country, according to the author.

A candid introspection and retrospection, says the book, reveals that we have violated Article 48A and Article 51A(g) of the Indian constitution by failing to protectour natural environment including trees, lakes, rivers and wildlife.

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This in turn, has jeopardised citizen's fundamental right to life, clean air, water and health guaranteed under Article 21 of the constitution.

Stressing that the survival of everything depends on the well being of the environment, the book expresses the need for a people's movement to make a coordinated effort for ensuring a healthy environment.

Interestingly, it has a role for spiritual gurus in sustainable development of the country.

"In today's materialistic society, people still listen to spiritual leaders with great devotion. Their discourses and sermons eulogising trees would surely make an impact.

"The euphoria and grip of religion on the psyche of Indian people should be used for a better environment," says the book.

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