Go green to promote peace | HT Tech

Go green to promote peace

By now you know that Wangari Maathai, Kenya's deputy environment minister, has won the Nobel Peace Prize. We also know that she planted 30 million trees to prevent deforestation.

By: EARTH WATCH | BHARATI CHATURVEDI
| Updated on: Oct 13 2004, 12:35 IST

By now you know that Wangari Maathai, Kenya's deputy environment minister, has won the Nobel Peace Prize. We also know that she planted 30 million trees to prevent deforestation.

Maathai links environmental protection with peace. Environmental degradation leads to diminishing resources, which causes conflicts. When resources are saved, she says, conflicts are minimised. Following this rationale, conserving the environment should encourage peace.

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It's a clear and concise argument. But why can't we apply it to India? Thousands of people live of forests. Yet, our laws and governance alienate them, reducing community-based protection and creating more conflicts. The eviction of thousands of persons, often brutal, has not contributed to environmental protection in any way. It has only created greater disparity between the rich and the poor.

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A similar fate is experienced by small fisherfolk, who are being trampled over by trawlers and large companies. Trawlers and corporates deplete fish stock in the sea. Some of these communities are not even being allowed to fish anymore because their traditional methods are seen as environmentally bad.

And then giant infrastructure projects and dams have created lakhs of environmental refugees. How can we ever reduce poverty by rendering people more vulnerable? If poverty is increasing can conflict be far behind? Let's allow this year's peace prize winner offer us ideas about our greener future.

MCD thinks green

One agency has shown some regard for human health in its procurement choices. When the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) decided to discard lead-soldered pipes, it chose MDPE. Now, MDPE may be plastic, but it's not PVC.

We should be relieved because PVC pipes contaminate water, studies in Saudi Arabia, Denmark and other countries have found. PVC is one of the most toxic plastics. When water flows through these pipes, weakly-bonded chemicals leach out, a phenomenon not yet seen in MDPE. Here is one thing to thank MCD for!

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First Published Date: 13 Oct, 12:35 IST
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