The National Highway Authority of India has chopped over 9000 trees in Gurgaon to develop a flyover and three underpasses. According to ToI, “Meteorological departments are apprehensive that the atmospheric temperature could rise up to 3° Celsius in the affected micro areas.” Well, there is nothing new in this as various environmental reports have already illuminated that the NCR region is suffering from severe air pollution. The regrettable thing is that a majority of these trees were fully grown and more than 25 years old.
No doubt, the situation of heavy traffic congestion would have coerced the government to cut down trees at such a large scale. Infrastructure development is a dire need of cities today. But Gurgaon, unfortunately, has paid a heavy price for this. Cutting down trees massively will badly affect the environment and raise the average temperature of the region, that too at the time when India has ratified the Paris Agreement and committed to adopt practices to help reduce temperatures globally.
This is not the first case of development vs. environment. The condition is that development must take place in such a way that its environmental consequences are minimum. Unfortunately, this has not happened in the present context. NHAI officials have claimed that they have taken prior permission from the state forest department. But innovative technologies, which can actually mitigate negative consequences, have been ignored completely.
In the current system, responsible authorities usually do a plantation drive in order to compensate, in some other areas. However, in this situation, there is no such confirmation from NHAI as of now. Also, it will take another 25-30 years to nurture these plants and get them fully grown.
A starkly contrasting example however, can be seen in Europe. European countries have evolved a new method to get rid of this problem. This method, called ‘uprooting’, comprises the digging of a trench around the roots of the tree, cutting the roots and injecting a hardened substance, so as to prepare a ball of the earth that can be dug up along with the tree.
Needless to say, this method is effective. But surprisingly, Indian authorities have said that they do not possess such technologies and required equipments and infrastructure. This is the problem. Why don’t we have such equipment and infrastructure? India is said to be the forerunner when it comes to technology and innovation. Why can’t we adopt such best practices?
The recent Chennai oil spill is another fresh example. There are lot of techniques to tackle oil spills effectively. But the problem lies within our inefficiencies. We talk about sustainable development in climate summits, set up ambitious targets, commit to taking up measures towards mitigation, but when the time comes to actually implement, we fail. This is an alarming situation.It is high time that we must think over it, and adopt best practices and technologies to make development sustainable.