Padma Shri awardee, green activist from Uttarakhand, Dr Anil Prakash Joshi on Monday strongly advocated the need for introducing the concept of Gross Environmental Product (GEP) to indicate overall health of environment in India.
“It is high time that along with Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which indicates economic health, the country and the states collected data on forests, water sources, quality of air and soil and measured the GEP to know the health of our eco-system,”said Dr Joshi, a botanist turned activist and founder of Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organisation (HESCO), an NGO, in Uttarakhand.
Dr Joshi, 63, who is known for his connect with the field and the capacity to address the environment issues with local interventions and linkages, hails from Kotdwar in Pauri Garhwal district Uttarakhand.
He talked to The Statesman on the sidelines of annual group monitoring workshop on ‘Technology Intervention for Mountain Ecosystem: Livelihood Enhancement through Action Research and Networking (Time-Learn) Programme.
The workshop was attended by environment experts and NGOs working in the field of technology intervention for mountain ecosystem from mountain states in the north.
Dr Joshi said there was urgent need to make the policy makers in Delhi and the consumers in plains, who use the eco-services provided by Himalayas, realise the significance of mountain states with regard to forests, water, air and environment as a whole.
“The reason is that Himalayan states have not been able to become one strong voice on the issue of their environmental significance and concerns. There is lack of political convergence on this important matter,” he said.
He said if Mumbai can be the business capital of India, Delhi national capital, then why can’t Himalayan states be the ecological capital of India.
He shared that Himalayan states meet the water requirement of half of the population of the country. “Still, the state capital of Himachal Pradesh, Shimla suffered from acute water shortage in summers this year. Similarly, Renuka dam will quench the thirst of national capital Delhi, but many villages in its catchment area suffer from acute water shortage,” he said.
The activist expressed concern over the shrinking water resources, rivulets, and said efforts were required to revive them through small little local interventions. He said there was lot of ‘knowledge gap’ in whatever technology is being developed for the people. “We must ensure people’s participation in every such programme to reduce the gap,” he said.
Dr Joshi said the mountains were the life line of the country. “No mountains, no life,” he said. The green activist said it was a serious issue that the resource-rich farmers, who meet food requirement of the country, are the poorest in the country, just because there are gaps in the policy.
He said the green revolution did take of the food security decades back, but none realised in those times that excessive use of use of chemicals in farming will make the food poisonous in times to come. “We should now promote the organic farming. Let the Rs 70,000 crore subsidy on chemical fertilisers and pesticides be given to the farmers to encourage use of organic manure,” he said.