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Why Illegal Mining And Construction At The Aravalli Range Need Our Immediate Attention

Development is a gradual process. With the interaction of the mankind and the resources before them, mankind takes into account the various possibilities by which they can fulfil their rapacity and exploit what’s already available to them. Despite being familiar with the repercussions of the damage caused to the environment, the process of development is subjected to uncovered scams and illegal practices. When the balance of nature is disturbed, the consequences are detrimental. For the prosperity of society, our environment must be healthy and preserved.

How Has Mining Affected The Environment?

The inexplicable increase in the rate of mining in the name of development has resulted in several problems related to the environment’s and our own health hazards. On one hand, mining has resulted in development in all spheres of growth, while on the other, it has been seen as a threat to the biodiversity.

What Have Been The Various Judgments Given By The Supreme Court In India To Curb The Increasing Mining Activity?

In 2004, a Supreme Court order banned mining in many parts of the Aravalli Range, but it was blatantly violated by illegal miners with the connivance of the government that turned a blind eye. The mining mafia operated illegally, digging out stones to be cut into slabs and ground, to gravel and sand to feed the hungry ever-expanding real estate in the National Capital Region of Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Faridabad and Ghaziabad.

Representative image/ Image Source: Flickr

In May 2009, it extended the ban to an area of 448 km, stretching across the Faridabad, Gurugram and Mewat districts of Haryana. However, despite the order of the Supreme Court, illegal mining in the Aravalli Range didn’t cease. In August 2020, the SC ordered Haryana authorities to stop road construction in the ecologically sensitive zone of Aravalli hills. Its order came after a media report exposed the illegal flattening of Aravalli hills to build a road to farmhouses in Bandhwari near the Gurgaon-Faridabad road in Haryana. The disturbing ecological balance in an already emaciated landscape around Aravalli continues to threaten the life of millions affected by it.

How Has The Government Reacted To The Alarming Situation?

In response to the violation of several environmental norms in this sensitive forested zone, we may conclude that the nexus between politicians, contactors and bureaucrats is very strong. They mint money with construction. Politicians put pressure on bureaucrats, who find these opportunities lucrative.

There was one officer who earned so much money during his tenure that he later involved himself directly in the mining activity. The Court has ordered mining to be stopped several times, but the government is not keen. All politicians have a stake in the mining business, as it funds their election campaigns.

Legal experts and activists allege that bureaucrats and politicians constantly try to make way for real estate and construction companies in environmentally dangerous zone. The poor implementation of the Court orders’ by the government, unrestrained construction and those having political motives have broken the Aravalli Range beyond repair.

How Does The Depletion Of The Aravalli Range Affect Our Lives?

The overwhelming economic gains associated with mining and the never-satiated urge of humans to extract resources from nature, even at the cost of its destruction, is affecting the gravity of the situation. The Aravalli Range is a bio-diverse and ecologically important zone. Besides acting as a natural barrier between the expansion of the Thar Desert to the Gangetic Plains, it also protects parts of Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi from dust, pollution and sand storms, and defines the watershed for the National Capital Region.

In addition to this, the Aravalli Range has rich reserves of rose-coloured quartz, zinc, copper, lead, rock phosphate, gypsum, marble, soapstone and silica sand, popularly known as Badarpur sand in the construction industry.

The need for the conservation of the Aravalli Range is acute and needs our immediate attention. It is necessary to implement the various orders given by the highest court of appeal and have restrained construction/put an end to the illegal mining activity being done there. Serious action needs to be taken to enforce the laws and restore the beauty of the nature.

The environment is a gift to us, making it our prime duty to ensure it is well-maintained and looked after. Nothing can be done unless each one of us, perhaps the ordinary people, decide to come together and put an end to the over-exploitation being done by our own, selfish hands.

Environmental issues have been on the political radar for over 50 years, and while the magnitude of expected impacts has hit an all-time high, predictions for the future course and effects of environmental degradation were not as promising decades ago as they are today. The effect that humanity is having on the environment is becoming ever-more important. Through our actions, we are destroying habitats and endangering the lives of future generations.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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