(June 30, 2003)

Eco-friends and Tarumitra jointly organized a seminar on ‘Pollution Control and Legal Canvas’ on June 30, 2003 at Merchants Chamber, Kanpur. Eco-friends, a frontline activist NGO has been rendering yeo-man’s service to the cause of environmental conservation and pollution control since well over a decade. Tarumitra joined hands with Eco-friends to organize the seminar for an open-house discussion, in an effort to collect information from grassroot workers and environmentalists as how to plug holes in legal expanse for redressal of environmental problems. Incidently, Tarumitra, an organization of Law College, Baneras Hindu University, has been assigned the task of making suggestions as how to improve existing legal system for better monitoring and enforcement of Law for redressal of environmental problems.

Eco-friends provided ‘Tarumitra’ an assembly of grassroot environmentalists, academicians, bureaucrats and officials of Pollution Control Board, forming civil society and state representatives, to discuss the issues in depth.

Smt. Anita Bhatnagar Jain, Vice Chairperson, Kanpur Development Authority graced the assembly with her presence as the Chief Guest. She candidly discussed the issue of environmental pollution, its causes and the policy of the government for pollution abatement. She emphasized that about 19 species become extinct each day from present flora and fauna as a result of ecological imbalance and ever increasing pollution. She cautioned that unless the ruthless exploitation of environment is stopped, the process of extinction of plants and animals would continue, which would ultimately threaten the existence of human race on the planet. She made a fervent appeal that this planet is the singular place where life is possible, and therefore, its continuance and survival is the basic responsibility of each individual. While expressing her grief over the present pathos of Ganga, she observed that the river which has evoked a religious sentiment and fervor from times immemorial, ironically is being desecrated and fed with all kinds of dirt and filth today. She commended the excellent efforts made by Eco-friends towards Ganga depollution and restoration.

B P Shukla, Zonal Officer, Central Pollution Control Board, put forth the fact that the Board was entrusted with the gigantic task of pollution control, but it was not free to take action, owing to political interventions, paucity of funds and other impediments. The brain needs to be empowered and absolved of political pressures to function as a free institution in true sense.

The studies made by Eco-friends on Ganga and Ganga Action Plan were discussed in the seminar and Mohd. Owais of Eco-friends emphasized the need for involvement of people in Ganga cleaning. He urged for the need of a real partnership between government and the civil society for fruitful results..

Dr A C Shukla, visiting scholar, ACDIS, university of Illinois and expert on Water Security, discussed legal canvas of environmental protection and said, “legal framework of the country is adequate but complex, cumbersome and costly. It is difficult to seek judicial redressal and punish polluters under law. Individual efforts in matters of environment fail to establish aggrieved party and public litigation is beyond reach of grass root workers.” Dr Shukla emphasized the need for simplification of judicial process vis-à-vis environment and establishment of public courts, consisting of representation of civil society and government organizations, competent to award justice and punish polluters and offenders of environmental law locally.

Research associates of Tarumitra and members of study group of the project of Ministry of Environment and Forests, Ashish Khare and Manoj Verma detailed about survey reports of the project, conducted at Allahabad, Gorakhpur and Lucknow and participated in the open house assembly. A documentary of the seminar was filmed by Rakesh Srivastava..

Robi Sharma, a social activist, put up a strong case for environmental problems of the city and exemplified it with glaring instances He held both, pölluters and government, responsible for the ever increasing water and air pollution in the town. Suchitra Singh of Rotary Club, Kanpur called for each civilian to pledge him/ herself to serve the cause of environmental up-gradation and conservation. She suggested that those doing service to the environment and ecology should be awarded as custodians of prosterity.

The benchmark of Seminar’s success was able conduction in the hands of Professor Harish Chandra who lent dignity and poise to the assembly and crafted the way for a fruitful discussion.

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