Blueprint for Eco-Revival of the Planet


He's back again this month. Maj. Gen. Vinod Saighal* is here with another of his insightful visions of a planet saved from environmental destruction.

Colossal sums of money have been spent worldwide in trying to arrest the environmental decline. Awareness campaigns have been launched in schools and colleges the world over by government agencies, non-governmental organisations and the media. Yet, in spite of the Herculean efforts of so many people to stem the decline, the results have generally been disappointing. Because of these efforts, ground is being lost more slowly than it was being lost in the past. It is still being lost, nevertheless. Global conventions and global conferences have served to keep the issues in the forefront; progress on the decisions taken remains tardy.

It has to be ensured that the problems that plague the ecosystem on land do not spill over to the marine environment due to the lack of foresight and the sustained pressure being put by developers to waive sensible restrictions, which might yet preserve a modicum of the natural environment of the countries for successor generations. Marine ecology is not confined to the narrow stretch of beach or shoreline but includes the area up to the continental slope stretching seawards and ecotone (i.e., natural vegetation) adjacent to the shore which, in many cases, stretches along creeks and rivers many miles upstream. Instead of petitioning the central authorities of states to lift environmental restrictions, the states from which the developers originate should themselves enact supplementary safeguards to ensure that no further construction takes place on riversides, lakesides and remote tourist spots. Many sublimely beautiful remote areas of yesteryear have been ecologically ravaged beyond redemption. The pristine grandeur and solitude have given place to blaring music, cheap eateries, garbage dumps and architectural monstrosities. As if this damage was insufficient, hoteliers and travel agencies are vying with each other to penetrate the last bastions of remoteness for development - road access, heli-access and more of the same. Should present trends continue, it is only a matter of time before the last undisturbed land and marine habitats in the world suffer similar fate.

The problem of unrestrained, unsustainable development is partially the result of the mindset of the great European expansions of the 19th century. It has become a terminologically depressive hangover from the past. ‘How the West was Won’ and ‘Inside Dark Africa’ still conjure up memories of opening up or forcing open new territories for economic exploitation. Since that early lexicon of the great corporations of the time - who later rose to world dominance - became their operative ethos, they have continued to follow those methods in the present day. Therefore, trans-border regulations which would have universal applicability will now have to be approved by the UN General Assembly for governing the operations of the multinational corporations. The actions of the latter would have to be made ‘justiciable’ before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) or international tribunals set up for the purpose. Non-governmental organisations as well as the concerned governments should be able to file complaints before environmental tribunals. The fines imposed would be deposited in the Global Reconstruction Fund (GRF).

It has been the experience that protests by environmentalists and concerned citizens serve to keep the concerns alive. They act as some sort of a check as well. More drastic remedial measures will now have to be taken in many parts of the world where irreversible damage to the environment continues to take place. In these cases, the ordinary punitive measures taken in the 20th century, mainly by nation states will no longer suffice.

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General Vinod Saighal

*The profile of General Vinod Saighal can be viewed on the website as also the books authored by him as well as the language editions of Third Millennium Equipoise. A Chinese edition is being launched soon after the Chinese New Year starting from February 2016. Reviews from some of the most influential minds who have commented on it can also be seen therein.

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