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Maiden draft Env Policy says policies, laws not harmonised

Srinagar, Aug 12: The Government has formulated a draft of what is going to be J&K’s first-ever Environmental Policy to address the environmental issues concerning the state.

The draft of the policy has been put in public domain for people’s suggestions before it is finalised for the implementation.

As per the draft, the policies and laws in the state are not “harmonised” with each other and with the Constitution.

“These include policies and laws concerning agriculture, land, water, forests, trade and industry, which have significant implications for the environment. The sectoral rather than integrated and ecosystem approach to management of natural resources has proved inadequate in addressing environmental challenges,” it reads.

The draft has pointed out the objectives of the policy and said that new environmental challenges will emerge in future.

The draft says that it will help to protect and conserve critical ecological systems and natural resources, and invaluable natural and man-made heritage.

It is also aimed to “integrate environmental” concerns in policy making, planning processes, projects for economic and social development through environmental governance.

Over the years, the state has witnessed a huge loss to the environment in the absence of a concrete environmental policy.

The Government of India had framed National Environment Policy in 2006, aiming at mainstreaming environmental concerns into all developmental activities.

Despite environmentalists warning about possible natural disasters, the environmental policy was not extended to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The draft involves suggestions and measures about pollution of fresh water bodies, air pollution, waste management, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, desertification, water logging, natural and manmade disasters, and climate change.

The policy, as per the draft, aims “to protect and conserve critical ecological systems and natural resources, and invaluable natural and manmade heritage, which are essential for life support, livelihoods, economic growth, and a broad conception of human well-being”.

It outlines a significant number of new and continuing initiatives for enhancing environmental conservation.

The policy is to ensure “efficient use of environmental resources in the sense of reduction in their use per unit of economic output, to minimize adverse environmental impacts”.

It also talks about various environmental challenges that have emerged over the years.

“The problem of water pollution is very severe in our state. In Kashmir, the river Jhelum has been converted into a drain due to the severe water pollution. The entire vale is located on the right and left banks of this river and the raw effluent from all the major towns finds its way directly into this river which has severely damaged the water quality,” it reads.

An official of Environment Department said that people can give their suggestions for four weeks. “After which the experts will look into suggestions and finalise the final draft before it is put in implementation,” the official said. “The state cabinet or a nominated committee may be requested to review its implementation once in two years,” he added.