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Saturday, 10 September 2011

Development and Environment.

Development is the key word which every leader, policy makers, and the government and far more important, the common people at grass root level emphasize. The term development though a common word, has a vast meaning varying from common people to the highly revered aristocrats and bureaucrats, but to simply understand it for our best ability, it means positive and progressive changes. So in order to bring these changes for ushering economic tranquility, economic planning is very vital as failure arises when there is a lack of proper planning and as we plan, we never plan to fail. Therefore survival and wellbeing of the nation depends upon well planned economic development in a sustainable way. 

 The term “sustainable development” though easy to speak, is now at the stake of losing its deep-rooted meaning due to various factors in developmental processes. If well taken care, it is the only process which brings about social and economic betterment that satisfies the needs and values of all interest groups without foreclosing future options. Therefore in order to secure the future, it is vital that we take necessary measures to ensure that the natural environment and its components (natural resources) from which we derive our sustenance does not deplete beyond its threshold limit. Development and environmental conservation should go hand in hand. However the strict preservation of environment meant no utilization of the natural resources, and consequently no development. 
Agriculture is considered as the backbone of nation’s development. Moreover agriculture is the main occupation of our people, with about 79% of the total population relying on it for their livelihood. In order to meet the increasing demand of food for the rising population, the agriculture land stretch beyond its boundary by clearing woodlands and forests, thus causing pressure to the natural environment. Moreover, the excessive use of different chemicals like DDT, 2-4 D, B.H.C, aldrin, aldrex, etc..., as pesticides against crop pest and use of various chemical fertilizers to augment the productivity of soil were found deleterious to the habitat of many organisms.  Growth in domesticated animal population has been accompanied by pressure on area under grasslands and pastures. Excessive grazing and browsing of animals make soil prone to water and wind erosion.

Generation of hydro-electric power from our perennial rivers is one of the largest fields of development which not only improved the living standard of our people but also contribute millions to the nation’s economy. However, lots of vegetation and organisms are damaged in bringing up such mega-projects. Many endemic species harbouring around such construction sites are eliminated from their natural habitat causing a threat of their extinction. Therefore, precautions need to be taken to reduce damage to the natural habitat of the organisms.

The coming up of large number of industries and other developmental projects have been leading to population congestion in our urban centres and on the other hand, to diversion of population and economic resources from the rural areas. This has also resulted in the pollution of most of our water bodies, which are major constituents of our life support systems. Pollution of water bodies, in turn, has adversely affected the growth of aquatic fauna and flora, which is an environmentally undesirable phenomenon for any ecosystem. The outbreak of water borne diseases poses a health hazard to those consuming and living in and around the polluted water bodies. The emission of Carbon dioxide and other obnoxious gases from the industries are great threat to the mother earth. Mining and quarrying of minerals to meet the demand of the industries leads to the degradation of environment at a great extent. The soils in such sites get exposed to torrential rain and heavy storm, causing water and wind erosion. Once degraded, it takes many years to recuperate. 

Tourism industry generates a lump sum of amount for the nation’s economy. Lots of plans and strategies are being instigated and implemented to attract low volume, high value tourist to further boast the tourism industry and in turn the nation’s economy. However, as the number of tourist increases, so do the transporters and other associates. The waste food materials and other such stuffs become difficult to manage in the fragile environment causing pollution. Most serious threats are from plastics, which takes hundreds of thousands of years for their complete decomposition. Our pristine mountains and virgin forests are no more in their original state. Human footprints have now step into the deepest of forests and highest of mountains, and this activities one way or the other has blow to our environment. 

Our forest wealth is dwindling due to over-grazing, over-exploitation both for commercial and household needs, encroachments, unsustainable practices and developmental activities such as roads, buildings, irrigation and transmission lines. The biological impoverishment of the country is a serious threat to sustainable advances in biological productivity. As the habitat of the organisms get disturbed, the organisms are shifting from one category to another in the Red Data List of IUCN. Many organisms which are found in abundant in the past are now enlisted as threatened species and if not conserved these organisms are subject to extinction. 

The impact of environmental degradation on the society is diverse and hazardous. A major menace to sustainable development has been visualized, in recent years, from environmental problems of a global nature the depletion of ozone layer, green house effect causing global warming and climate change, destruction of biological diversity and loss of genes, trans-boundary air pollution, water pollution, and trans-boundary movement of hazardous substances.

It is difficult to clearly delineate the causes and consequences of environmental degradation in terms of simple one-to-one relationships. The causes and effects are often interwoven in complex webs of social, technological and environmental factors. For instance, from a purely scientific and technological standpoint, soil erosion would result from the cultivation of marginal lands. However, from the point of view of a comprehensive environmental impact analysis, it is important to go further back and analyze the circumstances that force people to cultivate marginal lands. Viewed in this light, it becomes clear that a concern for the environment is essentially a desire to see that national development proceeds along rational, sustainable lines. Environmental conservation is, in fact, the very basis of all development. 

Our economic development cannot be weighed down in the name of the global environment. Our resources are required to meet our developmental needs such as education, nutrition, health services, drinking water, housing, sanitation, agriculture, industry, infrastructure, even all of which we find it difficult to provide having been behind in the race for development. Keeping this point in mind, we will have to reduce threats to the environment so that the resources can be sustained to meet the needs of future generation also. There is a need to curb on population growth of both human and other animals so that we can reduce the adverse demographic pressures on our resources and ecosystem. 

It is also crucial to inculcate & reinforce our traditional ethos and to build up a conservation society living in harmony with nature and making frugal and efficient use of resources guided by the best available scientific knowledge. Development has to be sustainable and all round, whether for the poor or the rich or for the village folk or for the urban people so that we can achieve an Eco Friendly Development.


  1. well written...statistic show that in 2008, our rural population growth was -0.2 % indicating a negative growth, for reasons that you have covered nicely..however, when we say that there is underdevelopment/unbalanced rural regional development we just can't bring the development at the cost of our thing we should realise that our environment is the main reasons for tourist attraction. And tourism as we know is employing people almost equivalent to that of the government, if we lose tourism it means that these people will loose their jobs as we should be very careful in trading-off development with environment, which is exactly what you have said...cheers mate..:)

  2. Environment is part by part damaged by any kind of development be it the main income generating industry like power project in our country, indeed if we don't safeguard the environment then the time may come where the hydro damns need to be filled with water that is navigated from outside the Bhutan because we can't say how long the will there be snowfall in mountain, indeed global warming has already started melting the the tips of icebergs in the poles.

    I really enjoyed reading your article, good work Leo.

  3. Conservation of the natural environment, which is one of the four pillars of Gross national Happiness is always given a top priority and of late, news about using improvised prayer flags and electric incinerators to burn the dead body have featured to further promote the conservation.
    However, developmental works like building of road, dams, setting up industries and urbanization cause a great impact on it, thus materializing what i felt, I put up this post.

    Thank you for your valuable comments and sharing your thoughts as well, Pema Dorji and Sangay Pelzang. Keep visiting la.