Conservation of Biodiversity in the Indian Context

 Ritu Dhingra

BiodiversityBiological diversity – or biodiversity – is a term we use to describe the variety of life on Earth. It refers to the wide variety of ecosystems and living organisms: animals, plants, their habitats and their genes, it is degree of variation within a given ecosystem, biome or entire planet.

Biodiversity is the foundation of life on Earth. It is crucial for the functioning of ecosystems which provide us with products and services without which we couldn’t live. Oxygen, food, fresh water, fertile soil, medicines, shelter, protection from storms and floods, stable climate and recreation – all have their source in nature and healthy ecosystems. But biodiversity gives us much more than this. We depend on it for our security and health; it strongly affects our social relations and gives us freedom and choice.

Biodiversity which is the ‘the variability among living organisms from all sources, including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are a part and also includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems’. Conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity is fundamental to ecologically sustainable development.

At the same time, no other feature of the Earth has been so dramatically influenced by man’s activities. By changing biodiversity, we strongly affect human well-being and the well-being of every other living creature.

Biodiversity is extremely complex, dynamic and varied like no other feature of the Earth. Its innumerable plants, animals and microbes physically and chemically unite the atmosphere (the mixture of gases around the Earth), geo-sphere (the solid part of the Earth), and hydrosphere (the Earth’s water, ice and water vapour) into one environmental system which makes it possible for millions of species, including people, to exist.

Biodiversity supports many ecosystem services that are often not readily visible. It plays a part in regulating the chemistry of our atmosphere and water supply. Biodiversity is directly involved in water purification, recycling nutrients and providing fertile soils. Experiments with controlled environments have shown that humans cannot easily build ecosystems to support human needs; for example insect pollination cannot be mimicked, and that activity alone represents tens of billions of dollars in ecosystem services per year to humankind.

The diversity of genes, species and ecosystem is a valuable resource that can be tapped as human needs and demands change, the still more basic reasons for conservation are the moral, cultural and religious values. The importance of biodiversity can be understood, it is not easy to define the value of biodiversity, and very often difficult to estimate it. The value of biodiversity is classified into direct and indirect values.

 

Biodiversity is part of our daily lives and livelihood, and constitutes resources upon which families, communities, nations and future generations depend. Every country has the responsibility to conserve, restore and sustainably use the biological diversity within its jurisdiction. Biological diversity is fundamental to the fulfilment of human needs. An environment rich in biological diversity offers the broadest An environment rich in biological diversity offers the broadest array of options for sustainable economic activity, for sustaining human welfare and for adapting to change.

 

INDIA AND BIODIVERSITY

India has 47 000 species of flowering and non-flowering plants representing about 12% of the recorded world’s flora. Out of 47 000 species of plants, 5 150 are endemic and 2 532 species are found in the Himalayas and adjoining regions and 1 782 in the peninsular India. India is also rich in the number of endemic faunal species it possesses, while its record in agro-biodiversity is very impressive as well. There are 166 crop species and 320 wild relatives along with numerous wild relatives of domesticated animals . Overall India ranks seventh in terms of contribution to world agriculture

India is one of the 17 “mega diverse” countries and is composed of a diversity of ecological habitats like forests, grasslands, wetlands, coastal and marine ecosystems, and desert ecosystems. Almost 70% of the country has been surveyed and around 45,000 plant species (including fungi and lower plants) and 89,492 animal species have been described, including 59,353 insect species, 2,546 fish species, 240 amphibian species, 460 reptile species, 1,232 bird species and 397 mammal species. Endemism of Indian biodiversity is significant with 4950 species of flowering plants, 16,214 insects, 110 amphibians, 214 reptiles, 69 birds and 38 mammals endemic to the country.

India’s contribution to agro-biodiversity has been impressive. India stands seventh in the world as far as the number of species contributed to agriculture and animal husbandry is concerned. In qualitative terms too, the contribution has been significant, as it has contributed such useful animal species as water buffalo and camel and plant species such as rice and sugarcane. India has also been a secondary centre of domestication for animal species such as horse and goat, and such plant species as potato and maize.

Biodiversity contribution to Indian economy

Biodiversity products have obtained a commercial value and have been increasingly exchanged in the markets having a monetary value, from which their share in the national economy can be judged. In the Indian context it is difficult to put a value on diversity as such because the marketable products are of various kinds both legal and illegal e.g wood and non-wood products from forests where wood comprises the major commercial produce is both legally exported as well as presumed to be illegally smuggled out of the country.

The contribution of natural and agricultural biodiversity in terms of crops, live stock, fisheries etc is very substantial in terms of commercial value. Such biodiversity has a major contribution to make to the Indian GDP (gross domestic product). The large economic implications of biodiversity in its wild and domesticated forms is the rice improvement programme. Rice accounts for 22% of the total cropped area and 39% of the total area under cereals, which reflects its importance in the country’s struggle to attain self-sufficiency in food.

 

LOSS OF BIODIVERSITY IN INDIA

Loss of biodiversity – the variety of animals, plants, their habitats and their genes – on which so much of human life depends, is one of the world’s most pressing crises. It is estimated that the current species extinction rate is between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than it would naturally be. The main drivers of this loss are converting natural areas to farming and urban development, introducing invasive alien species, polluting or over-exploiting resources including water and soils and harvesting wild plants and animals at unsustainable levels.

Rapid environmental changes typically cause extinctions. One estimate is that less than 1% of the species that have existed on Earth are extinct. Ecosystem stability is also positively related to biodiversity, protecting against disruption by extreme weather or human exploitation.

One of the major causes for the loss of biodiversity in India is the expansion of agriculture in previously wild areas. Other impacts include: unplanned development, opening of roads, overgrazing, fire, pollution, introduction and spread of exotics, excessive siltation, dredging and reclamation of water bodies, mining and industrialization. In this century, the Indian cheetah, Lesser Indian rhino, Pink-headed duck, Forest owlet and the Himalayan mountain quail are reported to have become extinct and several other species (39 mammals, 72 birds and 1,336 plants) are identified vulnerable or endangered.

Pressure Habitat destruction, overexploitation, pollution, and species introduction are the major causes of biodiversity loss in India. Other factors included fires, which adversely affect regeneration in some cases, and such natural calamities as droughts, diseases, cyclones, and floods, tsunamis etc. Habitat destruction, decimation of species, and the fragmentation of large contiguous populations into isolated, small, and scattered ones has rendered them increasingly vulnerable to inbreeding depression, high infant mortality, and susceptibility to environmental degradation of a chaste city and, in the long run, possibly to extinction. Besides these, the failure to stem this tide of destruction results from an amalgamation of lacunae in economic, policy, institutional, and governance systems.

 

Among others, these include :

Management with limited local community participation and involvement and inadequate implementation of eco development programmes;

Poor implementation of various environmental legislations including Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 as amended in 1991 has lead to a major loss of biological diversity.

Unani, Ayurveda and Sidha. Many indigenous medicines also utilize animals and their parts or extracts as remedies for various diseases. Diverse habitats and species also have non-consumptive use-value.

Tourism, recreation and scientific research are the major examples. The indirect use-value of biodiversity includes ecosystem process of biological diversity, which provides valuable ecological services to the biosphere; some Poor conviction rates of wildlife cases due to inadequate legal competence in the forest department, and the lackadaisical or apathetic approach of courts with cases pending for years.

• Loss of biodiversity has serious economic and social costs for a country. The experience of the past few decades has shown that as industrialization and economic development in the classical sense takes place, patterns of consumption, production and needs, change, straining, altering and even destroying ecosystems.

• India, a mega biodiversity country, while following the path of development, has been sensitive to needs of conservation and hence is still rich in biological resources. Ethos of conservation and harmonious living with nature is very much ingrained in the lifestyles of India’s people. If followed diligently can still help in the conservation of biodiversity.

 

• There are innumerable species, the potential of which is not as yet known. It would therefore be prudent to not only conserve the species we already have information about, but also species we have not yet identified and described from economic point of view. Taxus baccata, a tree found in the Sub-Himalayan regions, once believe to be of no value is now considered to be effective in the treatment of certain types of cancer.

• Biodiversity is part of our daily lives and livelihood, and constitutes resources upon which families, communities, nations and future generations depend. Every country has the responsibility to conserve, restore and sustainably use the biological diversity within its jurisdiction. Biological diversity is fundamental to the fulfilment of human needs. An environment rich in biological diversity offers the broadest array of options for sustainable economic activity, for sustaining human welfare and for adapting to change.

• The long-term fluctuations in temperature, precipitation, wind, and all other aspects of the Earth’s climate. It is also defined by the United Nations Convention on Climate Change as “change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods”

Major problems with biodiversity conservation are:

• Low priority for conservation of living natural resources.

• Exploitation of living natural resources for monetary gain.

• Values and knowledge about the species and ecosystem inadequately known.

• Unplanned urbanization and uncontrolled industrialization.

Major threats to biodiversity are:

Habitat destruction

Extension of agriculture

Filling up of wetlands

Conversion of rich bio-diversity site for human settlement and

industrial development.

Five main threats to biodiversity are commonly recognized in the programmes of work of the environmental conventions: invasive alien species, climate change, nutrient loading and pollution, habitat change, and overexploitation. Unless we successfully mitigate the impacts of these direct drivers of change on biodiversity, they will contribute to the loss of biodiversity components, negatively affect ecosystem integrity and hamper aspirations towards sustainable use.

 

By implementing various environment related legislations including the biological diversity act, 2002, and also by following our ancient wisdom for the conservation of environment, cautiously and diligently we can still protect the rich biodiversity of our country.

Eco-feminism – women and conservation of nature

Eco-feminismRitu Dhingra

Today is women’s day and I am writing this article to salute all those women who have been conserving nature by nature. I mean to say that by birth women are great conservators of nature and environment. Throughout many cultures, women have historically held the role of primary food, fuel and water gatherer for their families and communities. Because of this, they have also had a major interest in trying to prevent or undo the effects of deforestation, desertification and water pollution. Women give life. They have the capacity to give life and light. They can take their brooms and sweep the earth like cleaners; they can clean up the atmosphere with their brooms. They can seal up the hole in the ozone layer. The environment is life and women must struggle for life with their feet on the ground and their eyes toward the heavens. They must do the impossible.”

Eco-feminism, or ecological feminism, is a term coined in 1974 by Françoise d’Eaubonne. It is a philosophy and movement born from the union of feminist and ecological thinking and the belief that the social mentality that leads to the domination and oppression of women is directly connected to the social mentality that leads to the abuse of the natural environment.

Eco-feminism is a joining of environmental, feminist, and women’s spirituality concerns. As the environmental movement along with environmental crises raised the consciousness of women to the decay of the earth, they began to see a parallel between the devaluation earth and the devaluation of women. Women began to see the link as not a false construction of weakness, but as a strong unifying force that clarified the violation of women and the earth as part of the same drama of male control

In 1974, a group of about thirty women in the Himalayas of Northern India united to save more than 10,000 square miles of forest watershed. Deforestation in the Himalayan forests had caused landslides, flooding and major soil erosion and had forced women villagers to hike further up the mountains to gather fuel. Now known as the Chipko Movement, Hindi for “to cling,” the name reflected the protesters’ practice of throwing their arms around the trunks of trees marked for chopping and refusing to move. This practice and term later became popular in other areas of the world and was popularly called “tree-hugging.”

India’s Chipko, or tree-hugging, movement attempts to maintain sustainability. It has its historical roots in ancient Indian cultures that worshipped tree goddesses, sacred trees as images of the cosmos, and in sacred forests and groves. The earliest woman-led tree-embracing movements are three-hundred years old. In the 1970s women revived these chipko actions in order to save their forests for fuel wood and their valleys from erosion in the face of cash cropping for the market. Out of a women’s organizational base and with support by males, protests to save the trees took place over a wide area 1972 through 1978, including actions to embrace trees, marches, and direct confrontations with slum bearers and The Chipko movement’s feminine forestry-paradigm is based on similar to those of the emerging science of agro forestry, now being taught in western universities. Agro forestry is one of several sciences based on maintaining ecologically viable relations be-As opposed to modern agriculture and forestry, which separate tree crops from food crops, agro forestry view trees as an integral part of agricultural ecology.

Complementary relationships exist between the protective and productive aspects of trees Land the use of space, soil, water, and light in conjunction with crops and animals. Agro forestry is especially significant for small farm families, such as many in the Third World, and makes efficient use of both human labour and natural resources.

The basis of the movement lay in a traditional ecological use of forests for food (as fruits, roots, tubers, seeds, leaves, petals and sepals), fuel, fodder, fertilizer, water, and medicine. Cash cropping by contrast severed forest products from water, agriculture, and animal husbandry

Only a few years later, an ecofeminist movement in Kenya also embraced the importance of trees. The Green Belt Movement started as a local community tree planting effort. The group of women addressed the lack of local water, the effects of soil erosion and the rising challenges caused by their area’s deforestation. As with the women in India, the women of the Green Belt Movement recognized that by protecting and replenishing their natural environment, they were also laying the groundwork toward equitable economic development. There are many more examples in many other countries where women have started environmental conservation movements.

It is a philosophy and movement born from the union of feminist and ecological thinking and the belief that the social mentality that leads to the domination and oppression of women which is directly connected to the social mentality that leads to the abuse of the natural environment. It combines eco-anarchism or bioregional democracy with a strong ideal of feminism. Its advocates often emphasize a deep reverence for all life, and the importance of interrelationships between humans, non-human other (flora and fauna) and the earth.

Eco-feminism is a movement that applies feminist principles and ideas to ecological issues. It is a term used to address an integrated relationship between feminist and environmental perspectives. The eco-feminism form is an intellectual foundation of ecology and feminism, which focuses on issues such as women’s rights, peace, labour, ecological, and environmental justice.

Eco-feminist believes the oppression of women is a form of social domination and they identify this practice in relationship with the oppression of nature; since the two have been systematically oppressed. Resultant of these practices, the goals of the eco-feminist movement is to develop alternative, non-dominating solutions that will value, celebrate, and defend women and nature.

Deep ecology offers a philosophical basis for environmental advocacy which may, in turn, guide human activity against perceived self-destruction. Deep ecology and environmentalism hold that the science of ecology shows that ecosystems can absorb only limited change by humans or other dissonant influences. Further, both hold that the actions of modern civilization threaten global ecological well-being. Ecologists have described change and stability in ecological systems in various ways, including homeostasis, dynamic equilibrium, and “flux of nature”.

Both eco-feminism and deep ecology put forward a new conceptualization of the self. Some eco -feminists argue that self-realization and identification with all nature places too much emphasis on the whole, at the expense of the independent being. Eco-feminists contend that their concept of the self (as a dynamic process consisting of relations) is superior. A central tenet in eco-feminism states that male ownership of land has led to a dominator culture (patriarchy), manifesting itself in food export, over-grazing, the tragedy of the commons, exploitation of people, and an abusive land ethic, in which animals and land are valued only as economic resources. Other eco-feminists claim that the degradation of nature contributes to the degradation of women.

The capitalist driven export economy in many countries has caused most of the agriculturally productive land to be used for monoculture cash crops. This led to intensification of pesticide use, resource depletion and relocation of subsistence farmers, especially women, to the hillsides and less productive land, where their deforestation and cultivation led to soil erosion, furthering the environmental degradation that hurts their own productivity.

Vandana Shiva makes it clear that one of the missions of eco-feminism is to redefine how societies look at productivity and activity of both women and nature who (“Mother Nature”) and women as “wild” and “untamed” (like nature). Eco-feminists also criticize Western lifestyle choices, such as consuming food that has travelled thousands of miles and playing sports (such as golf and downhill skiing) which inherently require ecological destruction.

Vandana Shiva claims that women have a special connection to the environment through their daily interactions with it that has been ignored. “Women in subsistence economies, producing and reproducing wealth in partnership with nature, have been experts in their own right of holistic and ecological knowledge of nature’s processes, the interconnectedness of nature, or the connection of women’s lives, work and knowledge with the creation of wealth.

Social feminists focus on the role of gender in political economy by analyzing the impact of production and reproduction of men and women’s relation to economic systems. Feminist poststructuralists explain gender’s relation to the environment as a reflection of beliefs of identity and difference such as race, class, gender, age, and ethnicity. In this way they try to explain the relation of gender and development. Liberal feminist environmentalists treat women as having an active role in environmental protection and conservation programs. This role can become problematic. There is a common symbolism in the idea of ‘man’ pitted against nature while nature is feminized and “woman” is assumed to have profound connections with her environment.

These views of gender and environment constitute feminist political ecology, which links feminist cultural ecology, political ecology, geographical ecology and feminist political ecology into one concept. It argues that gender is a relevant factor in determining access and control of natural resources as it relates to class, race, culture and ethnicity to transform the environment and to achieve the community’s opportunities of sustainable development.

Eco-feminist actions address the contradiction between production and reproduction. Women attempt to reverse the assaults of production on both biological and social reproduction by making problems visible and proposing solutions. When radioactivity from nuclear power-plant accidents, toxic chemicals, and hazardous wastes threatens the biological reproduction of the human species, women experience this contradiction as assaults on their own bodies and on those of their children and act to halt them. Household products, industrial pollutants, plastics, and packaging wastes invade the homes of First World women threatening the reproduction of daily life, while direct access to food, fuel, and clean water for many Third World women is imperilled by cash the cropping on traditional homelands and by pesticides used in agribusiness. First World women combat these assaults by altering consumption habits, recycling wastes, and protesting production and disposal methods, while Third World women act to protect traditional ways of life and reverse ecological damage from multinational corporations and extractive industries. Women challenge the ways in which mainstream society reproduces itself through socialization and politics by envisioning and enacting alternative gender roles, employment options, and political practices.

Many eco-feminists advocate some form of an environmental ethic that deals with the twin oppressions of the domination of women and nature through an ethic of care and nurture that arises out of women’s culturally constructed experiences. An eco-feminist ethic is both a critique of male domination of both women and nature and an attempt to frame an ethic free of male-gender bias about women and nature. It not only recognizes the multiple voices of women, located differently by race, class, age and ethnic considerations, it centralizes those voices. Eco-feminism builds on the multiple perspectives of those whose perspectives are typically omitted or undervalued in dominant discourses, for example Chipko women, in developing a global perspective on the role of male domination in the exploitation of women and nature. An eco-feminist perspective is thereby. . . structurally pluralistic, inclusive, and is context based, emphasizing through concrete example the crucial role context plays in understanding sexist and naturist practice.’ An eco-feminist ethic, would constrain traditional ethics based on rights, rules, and utilities, with considerations based on care, love, and trust. Yet an ethic of care, as elaborated by some feminists, falls prey to an essentialist critique that women’s nature is to nurture.

The majority of activists in the grassroots movement against toxics, are women . Many became involved when they experienced miscarriages or their children suffered birth defects or contracted leukaemia or other forms of cancer. Through networking with neighbourhood women, they began to link their problems to nearby hazardous waste sites. From initial Not in My Backyard (NIMBY) concerns, the movement has changed to Not in Anybody’s Backyard (NIABY) to Not On Planet Earth (NOPE). Thus Cathy Hinds, whose well water in East Gray, Maine was contaminated by chemicals from a nearby industrial clean-up corporation became “fighting mad” when she lost a child and her daughter began to suffer from dizzy spells. She eventually founded the Maine Citizens’ Coalition on Toxics and became active in the National Toxics Campaign. Her motive was to protect her children. Women, she says, “are mothers of the earth,” who want to take care of it.”

Each of us should do everything possible to promote actions for survival on local, national, and international levels. . . . We must work to end food irradiation, to ban all known chemicals destroying the ozone layer, to reduce transport emissions, to recycle all reusable waste, to plant arboreta and botanical gardens, to create seed banks, etc. A Committee of Soviet Women pleads for environmental improvement in the face of her country’s accelerating industrial production. A national ecological program subsidized by the government is needed to reverse ecological damage. Children are being born with birth defects; air and water quality have deteriorated.

Women and biodiversity are not terms often considered to be associated with one another. However, women in many developing countries are often the protectors of biodiversity and have a very developed understanding of the medicinal and nutritional uses of a plethora of rare wild and cultivated plants. Biodiversity is fundamental for the continued growth, sustainability, and vitality of individuals and communities across the globe. Women, especially in developing nations, are most vulnerable to changes in biodiversity and at the same time most capable of protecting and retaining biodiversity because they often work the hardest and are the family care-takers. In many countries as per their tradition, women always eat last and are the first to sacrifice their food portion for their children in scarce times. According The Hunger Project, “women bear the brunt of domestic tasks: processing food crops, providing water and firewood, picking fruit, preparing and cooking food, caring for children, the elderly and the sick”. Women have the know-how and the potential to protect biodiversity, whose disappearance has and will increasingly contribute to and exacerbate global climate change

There are different relevant schools of feminist thought and activism that relate to the analysis of the environment. Eco-feminism argues that there is a connection between women and nature that comes from their shared history of oppression by a patriarchal society; this connection also comes from the positive identification of women with nature. This relationship can be argued from an essentialist position, attributing it to biological factors, or from a position that explains it as a social construct.

On this women’s day I want pay my homage to all those who have sacrificed their lives for the conservation of environment, my salutations to all those who are working for the said cause and my regards to all those who respects woman and their efforts for the conservation of environment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disappearance of house sparrow

Ritu Dhingra

house sparrowCONSERVATION OF BIODIVERSITY WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO :

Disappearance of house sparrow

I am writing this article in the interest of society at large and for the conservation and protection of house sparrows which are disappearing from the region of Delhi at a very fast pace. These birds, being an indicator of environmental health, need to be saved before they can be seen only in books or on the internet. Little attention has been given to research and practical conservation measures for sparrows and common birds. . It’s only ignored because it’s common; it has little glamour as compared to other species. There is little awareness with regard to the ecological role it plays. House sparrows being a common bird are not considered important from the scientific point of view also.

House sparrows do not live in jungles, deserts or places where humans are not present. The sparrow is a species that has evolved with humans and is always found in and around human habitations. The house sparrow is a confirmed hanger on to man ever since human habitation started depending on agriculture. It has even been mentioned in most of our Mythologies and Folklores, along with the Common crow, Eagles and other such birds, which used to exist in close proximity to human dwellings. It was once a very common bird all over the country whether it was a bustling urban area or a small hamlet. For generations, house sparrows have added child-like freshness to households with their presence. Scientists and experts say that severe changes in the urban ecosystem in recent times have had tremendous impact on the population of house sparrows whose numbers are declining constantly.

Being a naturalist and  a lawyer by profession and I have been observing this phenomenon for the last two to three years, but since there were no steps taken by the concerned authorities to conserve this species of bird I wanted to create an awareness amongst the common people by writing this article.

 

Till four to five years ago, it was not difficult to find house sparrows in Delhi but now, one could hardly trace any flocks of sparrows, it is even difficult to locate a solitary house sparrow easily. Slowly and gradually this species of sparrow has become critically endangered in the region of Delhi. There is no awareness amongst the people for such disappearance of the house sparrows. People today are too busy in their everyday humdrum and have little time to think about birds.

According to a study the advent of man-made threats like the rising numbers of mobile phone towers and microwave pollution is silent killer of sparrows. Mosquito coils, cell phone radiation and automobile exhaust of vehicles running on lead-free petrol could also be major factors. Rapid urbanization, lack of nesting grounds due to increased concrete structures; excessive use of pesticides, exotic plants replacing native plants has created obstacles in habitat of the birds resulting thereby decreasing their number to a great extent.

As per a study the mobile phone towers emit a frequency of 900-1800 MHz, continuous penetration of EMR (electromagnetic radiation) through the body of birds would affect their nervous system and their navigational skills. They become incapable for navigation and foraging. The birds which nests near towers are found  to leave the nest within one week.  No measures are being taken by the concerned departments for bringing back the birds. No efforts are carried on by the concerned authorities for the rehabilitation of the house sparrows.

 

The source of information of the facts stated in this article are based on my personal experience and I have also verified the facts by personally visiting various places  in Delhi and also by personally talking to other people all over Delhi, regarding the disappearance of the house sparrows. And their observation is also the same.  Various reports and articles published on the internet websites also support my article since these birds are disappearing in many other cities in the world. I want to draw the attention of common people at this, since this decline in the number of house sparrows seems to be a common phenomenon in the urban areas across the country. More so, this decline in the number of house sparrows is a significant bio -indicator that there is something wrong in the whole ecosystem and there is some degradation in the urban environment which could be or is harmful for human beings as well. When our environment is not able to support the survival of a small sparrow then it is a matter of great concern.

I think that the concerned authorities must establish the reasons for the disappearance of the house sparrows and special efforts should be taken by concerned authorities to bring back the house sparrows in the city. Awareness amongst the common man must be generated with the help of media and other agencies for the conservation of house sparrows. Every year an inventory of birds of different species residing in Delhi should be drafted after counting the number of birds and the reports should be published in the newspapers along with other journals and websites also, so as to create an awareness amongst the people for the protection of the birds in Delhi.

 

I want to further expatiate the legal implication attached to this article is based on the following sections of various acts which cover the above stated problem:

 

(A)  Section 36, 38 and section 39 of the Biological Diversity act 2002. The sections are as follows;

 

 DUTIES OF THE CENTRAL AND THE STATE GOVERNMENTS

36. (1) The Central Government shall develop national strategies, plans, programmes for the conservation and promotion and sustainable use of biological diversity including measures for identification and monitoring of areas rich in biological resources, promotion of in situ, and ex situ, conservation of biological resources, incentives for research, training and public education to increase awareness with respect to biodiversity.

 

(2) Where the Central Government has reason to believe that any rich in biological diversity, biological resources and their habitats is being threatened by overuse, abuse or neglect, it shall issue directives to the concerned State Government to take immediate ameliorative measures; offering such State Government any technical and other assistance that is possible to be provided or needed.

(3) The Central Government shall, as far as practicable wherever it deems appropriate, integrate the conservation, promotion and sustainable use of biological diversity into relevant sectoral or cross-sectoral plans, programmes and policies.

(4) The Central Government shall undertake measures, –

(i) wherever necessary, for assessment of environmental impact of that project which is likely to have adverse effect on biological diversity, with a view to avoid or minimize such effects and where appropriate provide for public participation in such assessment;

(ii) to regulate, manage or control the risks associated with the use and release of living modified organisms resulting from biotechnology likely to have adverse impact on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and human health.

 

(5) The Central Government shall endeavour to respect and protect the knowledge of local people relating to biological diversity, as recommended by the National Biodiversity Authority through such measures, which may include registration of such knowledge at the local, State or national levels, and other measures for protection, including sui generic system.

38. Without prejudice to the provisions of any other law for the time being in force, the Central Government, in consultation with the concerned State Government, may from time to time notify any species which is on the verge of extinction or likely to become extinct in the near future as a threatened species and prohibit or regulate collection thereof for any purpose and take appropriate steps to rehabilitate and preserve those species.

39. (1) The Central Government may, in consultation with the National Biodiversity Authority, designate institutions as repositories under this Act for different categories of biological resources.

(2) The repositories shall keep in safe custody the biological material including voucher specimens deposited with them.

 

(B)  The relevant provisions of the constitution of India are as follows;

 

a) The State’s responsibility with regard to environmental protection has been laid down under Article 48-A of our Constitution, which reads as follows:

“The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country”.

 

b) Environmental protection is a fundamental duty of every citizen of this country under Article 51-A(g) of our Constitution which reads as follows:

 

“It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures.”

The 42nd amendment to the Constitution was brought about in the year 1974 makes it the responsibility of the State Government to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country. The latter, under Fundamental Duties, makes it the fundamental duty of every citizen to protect and improve the environment.

(C) Section 3 of the Environmental Protection Act 1986. The section reads as follows:

3. POWER OF CENTRAL GOVERNMENT TO TAKE MEASURES TO PROTECT AND IMPROVE ENVIRONMENT

(1) Subject to the provisions of this Act, the Central Government, shall have the power to take all such measures as it deems necessary or expedient for the purpose of protecting and improving the quality of the environment and preventing controlling and abating environmental pollution.

(2) In particular, and without prejudice to the generality of the provisions of sub-section (1), such measures may include measures with respect to all or any of the following matters, namely:–

(i) Co-ordination of actions by the State Governments, officers and other authorities–

(a) Under this Act, or the rules made there under, or

(b) Under any other law for the time being in force which is relatable to the objects of this Act;

(ii) Planning and execution of a nation-wide programme for the prevention, control and abatement of environmental pollution;

(iii) Laying down standards for the quality of environment in its various aspects;

(iv) Laying down standards for emission or discharge of environmental pollutants from various sources whatsoever:

Provided that different standards for emission or discharge may be laid down under this clause from different sources having regard to the quality or composition of the emission or discharge of environmental pollutants from such sources;

(v) restriction of areas in which any industries, operations or processes or class of industries, operations or processes shall not be carried out or shall be carried out subject to certain safeguards;

(vi) Laying down procedures and safeguards for the prevention of accidents which may cause environmental pollution and remedial measures for such accidents;

(vii) Laying down procedures and safeguards for the handling of hazardous substances;

(viii) Examination of such manufacturing processes, materials and substances as are likely to cause environmental pollution;

(ix) Carrying out and sponsoring investigations and research relating to problems of environmental pollution;

(x) Inspection of any premises, plant, equipment, machinery, manufacturing or other processes, materials or substances and giving, by order, of such directions to such authorities, officers or persons as it may consider necessary to take steps for the prevention, control and abatement of environmental pollution;

(xi) Establishment or recognition of environmental laboratories and institutes to carry out the functions entrusted to such environmental laboratories and institutes under this Act;

(xii) Collection and dissemination of information in respect of matters relating to environmental pollution;

(xiii) Preparation of manuals, codes or guides relating to the prevention, control and abatement of environmental pollution;

(xiv) Such other matters as the Central Government deems necessary or expedient for the purpose of securing the effective implementation of the provisions of this Act.

I hope that in near future we can do something about conserving and saving our precious biodiversity, which we are losing at a very fast pace. House sparrow is only one life form on whose disappearance, I, tried to throw some light but there are other life forms which are even lesser known and which we have already lost by now. Other life forms which are disappearing from the urban environment are bees and butterflies and reasons which are currently known are the electromagnetic radiations from the cell phone towers. In the next article I will try to explain the detailed reasons for the same.