The Telegraph
Thursday , June 5 , 2014
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Guwahati air worse: Survey

R.K. Pachauri

Guwahati, June 4: The quality of Guwahati’s environmental indicators such as air, tree cover and water has worsened over the past five years, a survey conducted by The Energy and Resources Institute said.

The findings of the New Delhi-based institute’s Environmental Survey 2014 also revealed that about 89 per cent of respondents felt that climate change had occurred while the majority (about 85 per cent) felt that temperatures had risen and rainfall had declined. Environmental indicators taken into account by the survey included waste and waste management and number of bird species.

The survey was initiated to gauge the perception, awareness, opinion and behaviour of people towards environment.

Apart from Guwahati, the survey covered Delhi, Mumbai, Coimbatore, Indore, Jamshedpur, Kanpur and Pune. The focus of the survey was on general environment, and in particular, water and waste-related issues.

The survey covered a sample of 11,214 citizens spread across the selected urban agglomerates of India. In Guwahati, the views of 539 citizens were taken into account.

The findings revealed that nearly all respondents felt that the objectives of protecting the environment and development went hand in hand.

“Nearly 50 per cent of the respondents in upper middle class and high-income localities were not aware of any government policy relating to the environment as compared to around 30 per cent in the low income category,” the survey said.

Over 60 per cent of the respondents, the survey said, felt that water was being wasted and almost half of the respondents attributed this to leakage from faucets/taps in houses. Besides, nearly 96 per cent of the surveyed population were in favour of a ban on polythene bags.

“This time we focused on cities which normally don’t get the kind of attention they deserve. I hope through this survey we are able to bring about awareness that lays the foundation for action in the right direction. If we don’t, then we would all be taken over by urban blight,” TERI director general R.K. Pachauri said.

BTC forest cover

Conservationists in Kokrajhar have expressed concern over deteriorating forest cover and unabated felling of trees inside reserve forests and sanctuaries, including at Chakrashila wildlife sanctuary, in the district.

The Bodoland Territorial Council has more than 3,500 square km of forest cover. Most of the reserve forests are situated in strategic locations like catchment area and important wildlife habitat. However, encroachment in forest areas is causing huge ecological damages, experts said.

According to records, over 50 per cent of forest land in the BTC area has been encroached upon. Unofficial sources said the encroachment was much higher in some areas, particularly in Chirang-Ripu elephant reserve.

A senior forest official posted in the BTAD said, “The BTC administration stresses on conservation of forest wealth. It is trying to clear encroachers, check illegal felling of trees and regenerate forest land but political intervention is coming in the way.”

A few months ago, the BTC announced tough action in a bid to protect deteriorating forest wealth. It called an all-party meeting to discuss issues related to protection of forests, but this did not yield any result.

“With ever-increasing encroachment and largescale illegalities it appears that we are fighting a losing battle. It is just a matter of time. A sea of humanity is bent upon mindless destruction,” a senior forest official said. Citizens and wildlife lovers have urged the BTC administration and Dispur to take strong measures to check illegal felling of trees.

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