PRIME MINISTER AB Vajpayee today said it is time to look for pragmatic solutions to environmental protection to ensure sustainable development.
Inaugurating a one-day conference of State Environment and Forest Ministers, the Prime Minister said protecting the environment did not mean putting a stop to all development activities or halting progress.
We have to bear in mind, their long-term impact on environment and ecology of the region, state and the nation, the Prime Minister said.
Mr Vajpayee said balance of progress and consumption with conservation of resources could be possible if the country accepted environmental security, as a national mission. He pointed out that it was 'devastating' for a nation with its civilisational
history rooted in riverbanks to face a water shortage in 20 river basins.
Mr Vajpayee said there was a need to address environmental concerns while preparing developmental policies and project evaluation should not be based on financial cost benefit analysis alone. This no doubt is a difficult task. With our population crossing
one billion, the demand on resources and infrastructure can be well imagined, the Prime Minister said.
The Union and State Governments were under ever-increasing pressure to generate more employment opportunities through rapid economic development, Mr Vajpayee said, adding that people tended to overlook long-term impact in a hurry to deliver today's success
should not turn to tomorrow's failure.
Stating that the country could not ignore reality at the cost of the future of people, the Prime Minister said the country should prove that environmental conservation accelerated development and was not a hurdle for economic development.
Citing the example of Palamau district in Bihar where 'pani' panchayats were set up harvest
water and manage watersheds, the Prime Minister said blending traditional structure and modern scientific inputs could remarkably transform drought-prone area to on a sustained path of development.