National Green Tribunal Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel on Saturday gave a clarion call to all the stakeholders for acting together to address the environmental pollution including air, water, sewerage and solid waste management, which is the need of the hour.Addressing the first of its kind Regional Conference on environment under theme ‘No Time Left, Act Now’ being organised by the Environment Department Punjab, the NGT Chairperson said that time has come to act otherwise we will have to face devastation. He underscored the need to maintain ecological balance to ensure healthy life of the countrymen.Expressing confidence that this Conference would be a model itself in the country to disseminate the message of environment preservation, the Chairperson said that it is a strong beginning, which could be efficaciously replicated at the grassroots level across the country for resolving the environmental issues. He said maximum involvement of people should be made in such pro-people and pro-nature initiatives to avert environmental imbalances. There are several models and it is needed to develop and finalise more such models to resolve the concerns related to environment.Emphasising that ‘Clean Environment’ was a call of the day and to provide clean, green and pollution free environment, strict compliance of positive steps and environmental laws should be made by all stakeholders with massive and pro-active participation of the people. He complimented the Punjab Government, Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh and Principal Secretary Environment Rakesh Verma for organising this conference in larger public interests. The plenary session was participated by Punjab Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh and Haryana Chief Secretary Keshni Anand Arora. Assuring fulsome support and cooperation from NGT, the Chairperson categorically said that there was no dearth of funds and people were willing to extend all possible cooperation as the clean environment was an issue of ‘great urgency’.
Referring to waste management, Goyal said that the authorities concerned would have to execute command and control model in letter and spirit to ensure reforms and achieve desired goals. The Chairperson further pointed out that environment laws and industry had no conflicts. He said the economic activities and employment generation were also a key role in the holistic development of the nation. Enforcement of environmental laws is not intending to stop or harm industrial activities but if appropriate compliance of such laws were ensured, the Industrial activities would get major boost. He said that the industrial activities should be carried out without harming the environment and it was possible.Urging Punjab and Haryana Governments to remove the garbage dumps from both states and restore the land occupied under garbage piles, Goyal said that our country had over 4100 garbage dumps sites in 4100 cities, which could be leveraged for business and employment opportunities as the goal of clean environment could not be realized so far these sites were property utilized. He said that these sites were not only generating harmful gases but also creating environmental and health hazards besides occupying larger chunks of lands. He said these lands could be unlocked by utilising these sites as per the proposal mooted by a foreign company. He said that by disposing off 10 percent land of garbage dumps, 90 percent could be converted into forest increasing the green cover by exploiting the CAMPA funds. He said this initiative would go a long way in providing clean air and pollution free environment to the people.
Exhorting the industry and agrarian sectors to come forward for using the treated sewerage water, Goyal said that effective management of sewerage water both solid and liquid was also much needed and the treated solid sewerage could be used as manure while the liquid for industrial and agriculture purposes. He called upon the industry to generously incur their corporate social responsibility funds in this regard whereas the authorities on the other side should come with a comprehensive plan to raise funds for this noble cause.In his address, Chairman of NGT Committee of River Sutlej Justice Jasbir Singh called upon the people of State to take an initiative since this noble cause was a ‘second war of independence’ to make India pollution free country. He said everyone should have deep understanding about the environmental issues as the situation was turning from bad to worse and the authorities with the active public participation would have to perform. Taking note of gravity of the situation, he said that time has come to act or react and if not now then when, as it was now an environment emergency with no time left.In his welcome address, the Principal Secretary Science, Technology and Environment Rakesh Verma said Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji had preached us the eternal message of ‘Pawan Guru Pani Pita Mata Dharat Mahatt', which was immensely relevant in contemporary times as all of us should work in tandem to secure healthy environment. He informed that in continuation to Regional Conference organised by the Punjab Government, similar conferences would be held at Zonal level at Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar in short span of time to ensure involvement of masses at grassroots level.Earlier National Professional Officer Public Health & Environment Manjit Saluja, WHO, Eco Pro Environmental Services Ajay Jain and Chief Climate Change, Resilience & Energy, United Nations Development Programme Dr Preeti Soni also threw ample light on environmental issues. They gave presentations on Health Environment for Healthy People, Cleaning Environment through Best SWM Practices and UNDPs support in addressing air pollution in India respectively.The second session on 'State Action Plans-The Journey so Far" was presided over by Justice Pritam Pal, Chairman, NGT Monitoring Committee.
In this session, the achievements of various action plans on air, water and waste management, challenges faced, lessons learnt and improvement envisaged to make them more effective were shared. The monitoring of action plans in order to bring greater accountability in the execution of these plans was also be highlighted.The third session was given the theme of “Best Practices for Environment protection and Management”. This session was chaired by former Chief Secretary, Haryana and Member, NGT Executive Committee Urvashi Gulati. The session shared best practices in the field of air pollution, waste water management, waste to wealth, green economy and other aspects of environment protection and management. The need to replicate the best practices at various levels was stressed upon. The session also brought out the need for effective communication strategy for garnering massive public support for implementation of various initiatives.The fourth session was on “Role of Research, Innovation and Technology in facing Environmental Challenges”. It was chaired by Former Chief Secretary Punjab and presently member NGT State Monitoring Committee Subodh Aggarwal. The session deliberated on the role of Universities and Research Institutions in supporting the efforts of the State in combating the pollution and other environmental challenges. The Universities shared their areas of expertise in the field of environment and discussed how they can help in effective environment management. The session also emphasized at introducing innovative techniques and show cased the role of technology and start-ups in the domain of environment.Besides, Baba Balbir singh Seechewal and More than 300 delegates representing MoEF&CC, CPCB, State Boards, stakeholder departments of Northern States and National & International organizations participated in Conference.