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SHILLONG: As policy makers, we have made policies driven by greed, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma said while addressing the audience at Asian Confluence on Friday at a discussion on “Green Economy: Promises and Pitfalls.”
The Chief Minister said that when policy makers speak of the green economy, they should actually be focusing on the health of the citizens.
Pointing to the national capital where farmland is being alienated to construct multi-storied complex which require more vehicles and which lead to more traffic jams, Sangma said Delhi has become a health hazard which in turn has serious consequences on human behaviour and adds to human delinquency.
Pointing to the lack of attention to details during road making, Sangma said pedestrians are completely forgotten even while vehicles have taken up all the space.
He said there is no space even for cyclists much less for pedestrians.
“Much of our ecological problems today are a result of our greed and because we have deviated from the time tested values of our forefathers of leaving enough space for public roads while constructing our private homes. Even water sources that were earlier protected by vegetative cover maintained by communities have now become private property. It is unfortunate that while we claim to be custodians of a rich cultural heritage we have not been able to protect nature,” Sangma stated.
Pointing to the changing landscape in the state. Sangma said while driving through Nongstoin to Garo Hills, both sides of the road have been greened but these are plantations and not indigenous forests. This, he said has resulted in loss of biodiversity.
He also lamented the fact that human habitations and human activities have encroached into bio-diverse areas.
Sangma proposed a collective action to reduce the fossil fuel use. He however observed that the idea of huge solar and wind energy parks which take up too much land would not be viable for land-scarce state like Meghalaya.
However solar panels on rooftops are a good option, he said.
The Chief Minister also pointed out to the State’s commitment to turn organic and reduce the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides which have poisoned the rivers and streams.
Sangma drew the attention of the audience to the 12- coach train that links Bhatinda in Punjab with Rajasthan, and said that heavy use of chemicals by farmers has resulted in large numbers of people in Punjab suffering from cancer and going for treatment to Rajasthan. Hence the train has been named the ‘Cancer Train.’
Speaking about coal mining in Meghalaya and ban by NGT, Sangma said that the ban is a blessing in disguise.
“When the executive is hamstrung and unable to push through a legislation, the judiciary steps in and gives us a breather. We had prepared a mining policy but could not push it through because stakeholders want to enjoy rights without responsibilities”, Sangma said .
‘Cong lost seats due to NGT ban’
Congress Party paid a heavy price because of the NGT ban. We lost seats in West Jaintia Hills, West Khasi Hills and South Garo Hills – all mining areas, the Chief Minister said..
As politicians we will have to dismantle barriers and take decisions for the larger public good, he added.
Sangma said tourism is an alternative livelihood, but our people must be able to package destinations more creatively and lace them with imaginative stories.