Environment should be top priority of any government and it should be ensured that there is no “irreversible” damage due to development, National Green Tribunal Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said today.
Although development works are bound to hurt the environment, if the damage “is manageable, they should be allowed with strict compliance to the environmental laws”, he said, stressing that no development can serve the people if they do not have clean air and water.
“Environment should be top priority of any government. You can live without food for a while but you cannot live even a minute without clean air and water. Awareness about the environment is an essential feature for a proper life today. We must create consciousness about environment and teach it at school and college levels.
“No development, powerhouse, nuclear station, guns etc are going to serve you better if you cannot breathe and drink water,” Justice Kumar said while speaking at “consultative meet on fly ash” organised by Centre for Fly Ash Research and Management (C-FARM).
Justice Kumar said that although every development is bound to hurt the environment but one needs to ensure that an “irreversible” damage is not caused to the environment.
“If the damage is manageable, it should be allowed with strict compliance to the environmental laws. Whatever drawback the development leaves, there must be a system in place to handle it completely,” he said.
The NGT Chief said that fly ash, which is produced during combustion of coal, can be utilised in many ways, including as as manure, according to experts, despite the fact that it contains metals and acids because it has permissible limits of each.
“But are those prescriptions based on correct scientific data, that is difficult to answer,” he said.
“Rationality of a scientist should never get influenced by the fact that there is some parameter that needs to be satisfied. Today you are eating fruits and vegetables from Yamuna bank. You go to Noida road and you buy green looking oily vegetables thinking this is the best thing in the world. But, you must be aware that it is the worst kind of thing in the world.
“Even a fruit generated out of fly ash manure contains permissible standards of different pollutants. Will its use on a long term basis be positive or negative, is difficult to answer. If you take undue acids and metals, your body is not expected to consume more than what is required,” he said.