It’s time we listened to Jairam

March 13th, 2011

jairam.jpg“NEWSALERT: Japan tsunami may spread to US, Australia; India safe”

I heaved a sigh of relief as I put this alert on the Business Standard website around 2 pm on March 11. The news surely calmed Indians even as Japan was being devastated by the country’s most powerful earthquake since records began. Hundreds of houses, fully compliant with the construction norms for quake-prone areas, were swept away by a wall of water after the 8.9-magnitude tremor. The damages suffered by Japan are incalculable, and the country might take several months before it recovers from the shocks and of course aftershocks.

Millions of people in India watched the horrific videos on TV and shuddered at the thought of facing a similar tragedy here. Nature’s ferocity and wildness was evident, and it appeared to say in a roaring voice that humans had messed with it way too much, and now it was time to pay back.

While Nature was avenging the insult and abuse it suffered at the hands of humans across the globe, the one person who came to my mind was our Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh. The man, who has given a new meaning to environmental governance in India, has received accolades as well as abuses for his crusade against the factors causing damages to the environment in the name of development and economic growth.

Often, our politicians, builders and industrialists accuse him of being anti-development. Clearly, the myopic bunch does not even have the slightest clue why Ramesh takes environment more seriously than his predecessors who occupied the wallflower Environment Ministry. Most of them just dismiss his objections as mere political gimmicks. But the live video of the earthquake and the tsunami that vociferously invaded Japan should beat some sense into the heads Jairam-bashers that the man’s words should be taken far more seriously. It has to be understood with absolute clarity that environmental abuse is far worse than terrorism, and it should be avoided at any cost. If the messages to save the environment continue to be ignored, the day is not far when India will have to face the wrath of the Nature in the manner witnessed in Japan.

So, let’s stop and listen to what Jairam and other environmentalists have to say. If steps to prevent environmental damages are not taken in time, it will be too late, and when Japan-like calamities knock on our doors, we will have nowhere to hide. Everything acquired at the expense of the Nature will be annihilated by Her in the most brutal manner.

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