The Necessity to Prioritize Investment in the Environment
The right to the environment is ensured in the Constitution. However, the environment is deteriorating day by day due to our activities. Provisions in the constitution and laws to improve the environment are not enough. We need to act in an environmentally friendly. If all three levels of government promulgate policies to protect the environment and citizens also invest in its implementation, then the environmental vicious cycle of environmental degradation can be addressed. Ramesh Prasad Timalsina, the editor of Insec Online, interviewed environmentalist Bhushan Tuladhar. Here is an edited excerpt of the conversation with Tuladhar:
The right to a clean environment has been ensured in the constitution. Is the government’s action plan in the right direction?
Not just clean but we require a healthy environment. The right to the environment is interrelated with public health. I can’t say there is no plan for the government. If the government has the responsibility to create a clean and healthy environment, then the citizens have the right to exercise that right. Citizens should also support the responsibility of the government. Kathmandu Valley Air Quality Management Action Plan 2076 is a plan passed by the Council of Ministers. The action plan passed by the Council of Ministers had to be implemented. It has not been fully implemented. There are environmental policies and climate change policies. Similarly, there is a transport policy and a clean energy promotion policy. We have also expressed our international commitment. However, there is a problem to implement the policy. Creating the conditions to invest and work by prioritizing the environment is an important need of the hour. The Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Ministry of Transport belong to everyone. The environment is everyone’s topic of concern. Overall, this issue is interrelated with all ministries. The Government of Nepal should play a coordinating role with governmental, non-governmental, and private sectors for the protection of the right to the environment. That work is not happening right now.
What are the basic tasks that the government and the citizens have to do to enjoy the rights of the environment?
We have to take a closer look at the policies made by the government. Even if only 23,000 community forest user groups can be empowered, some success can be achieved in controlling fire. The government has to take the lead and invest in this issue. We have to understand the responsibilities of the citizens first. They have to pay attention to this issue. They have to take ownership of the environment. Since environmental pollution is usually caused by human activities, we have to work to reduce pollution as much as possible through our activities. Everyone has to know how to survive if the environment is polluted. And, citizens have to raise their voices. A good citizen must raise his voice wherever he can. An integrated voice and campaign in favor of environmental protection automatically reduce pollution in the environment.
It is said that there is no snow in the mountains. How long will this condition remain?
The snow in the mountains has melted due to the temperature rise. This is due to human activities. It can be reduced but not stopped. Changes in our daily lives can and must help in be minimizing it.
Is it possible to reduce it with the positive changes we bring to our daily life?
Yes, it is. We are the ones who will reduce it. We should start today. The situation in our country is not so depressing. If we don’t do it now, we will be in trouble later. We are now in the development phase. At the same time, we need to come up with a far-sighted plan to prevent environmental adverse effects. We should all start this work at once from today. Let’s not delay now. Let’s save the environment and ourselves.
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