Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday made an impassioned plea for environment conservation and called for urgent action against climate change, underscoring that the current flash floods in the state was a result of torrential downpour over a course of a few days amidst an overall deficient rainfall.
The Chief Minister made the remarks at a Van Mahotsav (afforestation festival) organized by the state department for environment, forestry and climate change.
Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, who holds the environment, forestry and climate change portfolio, was present on the occasion with others.
The CM said that the government was embarking on an ambitious programme Jal-Jeevan-Hariyali that would seek to improve ground water table and green cover, thereby sustaining life.
Recalling his days as a college student in the 1970s, Mr Kumar said the state used to receive an average annual rainfall of 1200-1500 mm. For the past 13 years, it has been as low as 900 mm. Last year it was even lower at 775 mm.
In 2017, we witnessed flash floods because of abnormally high rainfalls in Nepal over just a few days. Same has been the situation this year.
All this has been a result of mindless felling of trees in the name of building construction and setting up of industrial units. We must try to achieve progress which sustains life and does not destroy it, he said.
We all have heard about this phenomenon called global warming. Countries across the globe take part in conferences related to this phenomenon, acknowledging its reality, even if America thinks otherwise, the Chief Minister said in an apparent dig at the Donald Trump administration which has adopted a controversial stance on the issue.
He expressed delight upon witnessing planting of trees at the Veterinary College ground, the venue of the function, by school-going children and NCC cadets and relished a song they had recited before his speech.
What beautiful and profound message these lines convey tum yaad karo kaise jangal mein ped thahake bharte the, sheron ko daanta karte the, chidiyon se baatein karte the (try to recall how in the forests seemed to reverberate with the laughter of the trees and the woods appeared to be scolding tigers not to indulge in mischief and reassure birds.
Baadal ko mohabbat hai inse kuchh ped lagaao jal ke liye, bachhon se mohabbat hai tujhko to kuchh ped lagaao kal ke liye (plant trees, the clouds need it for rains which the land needs for water that sustains life, if you care about children take to plantation of trees for a better tomorrow, the Chief Minister recited another stanza exclaiming these are lines which fill people like us with resolve.
The children have given a message. The grown-ups youths who are naturally concerned about earning a livelihood must pay heed. Do earn, but by means which do not destroy life. Do remember you cannot survive if the planet gets imperiled by environmental degradation, Mr Kumar added.
We had convened a meeting of all members of both houses of legislature last month where we reached a consensus on the need for a massive campaign for environment conservation. The Van Mahotsav is a part of this campaign. We have set a target of planting 1.5 crore trees within a fortnight, he said.
The Chief Minister said the forest cover in the state has risen to 15 per cent from less than eight per cent in 2005 when he assumed power and we aim to achieve the target of 17 per cent in the next two years.
Mahatma Gandhi had said that the earth can fulfil the needs of all its inhabitants but it cannot satisfy the greed of anyone. A lot of damage has been caused to the planet in mans quest for wealth. Our Jal-Jeevan-Hariyali campaign is a humble step in the direction of undoing the harm that has already been done, Mr Kumar said.
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