| Jai Prakash Dabral (second from left) at the seminar in Jorhat on Saturday. Telegraph picture |
Jorhat, Dec. 10: The Himalayan Chipko Foundation, an NGO, today urged people to raise their voices against environmental degradation, be it acidic coal mining, crude oil seepage, illegal felling, killing of tigers or big dams, and start a mass campaign.
Addressing the gathering at the 10th Assam Mahotsav here, the Foundation’s head Jai Prakash Dabral said there were several environmental challenges for Assam which required people’s attention. He urged them to join hands with the Foundation to file public interest litigations against agencies violating environmental norms.
Citing a few examples, Dabral said when digging an oil rig, it was natural for crude oil to flow out and there was leakage thereafter which was collected in a large hole.
“Throughout the world when such digging is done, a polythene lining is laid beneath the surface of the hole so that the oil does not seep into the surrounding soil and make it uncultivable. I have visited Digboi, Lakwa and rigs inside the Patkai jungles but nowhere did I see this being done,” he said.
He also cited the example of the presence of high sulphuric acid in coal in the region. “While storing, especially during rains when the water seeps in, the coal degrades the surrounding area,” he added.
He also urged people to be vigilant against corrupt forest officials who permit illegal felling in forests. “Timber smugglers are operating cleverly now. They uproot trees completely and not just cut them at the ground level or burn the stumps,” he added.
He said largescale denudation of forests had caused global warming and climate change. As a result, it was warm here till December. “Another fallout is that previously it rained for 100 to 140 days but now the same amount of rain falls in 70 to 90 days. The cloud cover which used to be 5km high is now 15km high, resulting in cloudbursts, rainfall of greater intensity and flooding,” he added.
He said global warming had resulted in receding of glaciers in the Himalayan region and heavy siltation in rivers. Regarding big dams, he said fish ecology might soon become extinct if many such dams came up.
He said the extraction of agar oil should be taken up in an organised way and he would move the Supreme Court in this regard if he had public support.
Referring to the recent killing of a tigress on the periphery of Kaziranga National Park, he called for more awareness on part of people, police and forest officials in dealing with such cases. “I do not want to blame anyone. Not only did the forest officials arrive late and without tranquillisers but the police moved forward towards the tigress despite being warned by me not to do so. The tigress felt cornered and obviously attacked,” he added.
The seminar was organised by Bharatiya Sanskriti parishad and Intandem.