Conserve nature to save lives

Prabhat Kishore
Madhya Pradesh Government had surveyed the Bundelkhand regions under “Bunder Diamond Project” through Australian company Rio Tinto in 2000-2005 to explore the possibility of diamonds. In the survey Kimberlite rock, which is the major source (ore) of diamonds, have been traced out in the Buxwaha forest areas. Presently, Panna of MP is the largest repository of diamond having approx. 22 lakh carats. It is said that Buxwaha forest contains 15 times more diamond than Panna. The State Government has allotted the mining area to Aditya Birla Group’s Essel Mining and Industries Limited (EMIL) on lease for 50 years. The mining area of 364 hectare is a part of approx. 3000 hectare of Buxwaha protected forest. The heart breaking aspect is that to excavate the diamond nearly 215875 trees of various species will be cut down, threatening large scale ecological imbalance in the region.
Presently not only MP, but the whole world is suffering from Pandemic Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), one of the major cause of which is the disturbance of nature and ecological imbalance. Currently the main thrust to combat the pandemic is the production of artificial oxygen in laboratories, which is nothing but result of neglecting natural source of this life supporting gas, i.e trees. Ideally a country must have at least 33% of its areas covered with forest, but currently it is just 20% in India. The Central as well as State governments have separate jumbo-sized ministries and departments for this purpose; but despite huge expenditure of public money, even after 73 years of independence all have failed to achieve this goal.
Trees and plants are the major components of the environment. They balance the proportion of Corbon Di-oxide in the atmosphere. Gradual rise of temperature on earth is not a natural disaster, but a scientific and environmental problem. There is a certain proportion of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, carbon mono-oxide and other gases in the air. Steep growth of factories and motor vehicles, rapid pace of urbanization, population rise and indiscriminate reaping of forests have led to unexpected increase in the proportion of Carbon di-oxide in the atmosphere. With the rise in population , the consumption of oxygen and the production of carbon di-oxide have also increased. There has been gradual rise in carbon di-oxide gas due to conventional source of energy such as burning of coal, wood, petroleum, cowdung etc. This gas has a tendency to pass sunlight through it, increasing the temperature of the atmosphere and resulting in unwanted geographic and seasonal changes.
The emitting smoke from factories and vehicles not only contains carbon di-oxide but also harmful carbon mono-oxide, nitrogen oxide, lead oxide, carbon particles, heavy hydro-carbon, formaldehyde, bengene, which pollutes the atmosphere and affects the cells in the human’s lungs to become cancerous. The Ozone-layer protects us from the harmful ultra-violet rays of the Sun. Industrial chemicals, particularly chloro-carbon and nitrogen oxides from nuclear and atomic explosions, damage the Ozone-layer. If these chemicals are not controlled, then the Ozone-layer of the earth will be damaged upto 25 to 30% in the coming 50 years, resulting in rapid increase in atmospheric temperature and danger of cancer to human and animal bodies. A report reveals that at present, pollution from municipality is 45.62%, Bio-medical/chemical – 20%, Various mode of transport – 14%, Industry – 6.4%, Thermal power station – 6.4% and from other sources is 6.7%.
In various religious literatures, the importance of trees has been highlighted. In Sanskrit literature, trees like Peepal, Neem, Tulsi, Bargad/ Vat, Anwala have been worshiped and cutting of green trees have been prohibited. Obviously, the Holy literatures have glorified the trees due to its life-supporting quality. In the Matasya Puran , a tree has been mentioned as equivalent to ten sons (Dash Koop Samavapi Dashvapi Samohridah. Dash Hridsamah Putron Dash Putra Samo Drumah). In the Bhagwad Gita (10.26), Bhagwan Krishna have glorified the Vat/Bargad tree as “Ashvatthah Sarva Vrikshanam”. In Yayurved, the tree has been said to be the reflection of Bhagwan Shiva. As Shiva ingested the poison and released the Amrit, in the same way trees desiccate the poison (poisonous gases like Carbon di-oxide) and pump out Amrit in the form of oxygen.
Gautam Buddha has attained enlightenment under the Peepal tree called Bodhi Vriksh in Bodh Gaya. As per Buddhist scriptures, nature creates as well as preserves life and it is the duty of the people to preserve the plant considering it as living being. All the 24 Jain Tirthankars meditated under the tree to attain enlightenment. Islamic literature mentions that “whoever plants a tree and diligently looks after it until it matures and bears fruit, will be rewarded by Allah as charity”. Holy Bible says “God made trees with seed bearing fruits. He gave us the possibility to increase their numbers by planting seeds.” Actually all these aspects have been emphasised keeping in mind the social concern regarding the importance of trees & plants for the conservation of the environment.
Forests are not just densely covered areas of trees and plants, but are the source of livelihood of human as well as other biological creatures. It is responsible for rain, reduces the effects of natural calamities like tsunami, prevents soil erosion, minimizes air pollution, produce shelter for birds and wild animals, availability of food etc. It is the source of numerous herbal plants for the manufacture of medicines. In other words, it is the lifeline for millions of people and other living creatures.
Conservation of the environment is not possible only through some government initiatives; civil societies too have to come forward. Otherwise, in coming days, due to the unexpected rise of carbon di-oxide and damage to Ozone-layer, the earth would be so much heated that existence of life on the earth will be in danger mode.
Although Buxwaha lush green forest is not the only natural resource whose existence is in danger, earlier hundreds of various such resources have been recklessly destroyed in the name of development causing disastrous climatic changes in those regions. Undoubtedly, diamond or other valuable minerals are essential for the growth and prosperity of the nation, but not at the cost of life-supporting natural resources like the forests and the trees. Once again, the million dollar question arises – “what is the urgency of nation – Diamond or Oxygen ?”