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Balance between Nature and Development essential: Experts


Thursday January 17, 2013

Odisha, Climate Change, Development, Coastal Management  
Most of the experts who joined the Fourth International Geography Congress held in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, opined that the need of the day is to understand the ecosystem and maintain a perfect harmony with nature for sustainable development.  
Basudev Mahapatra  

In the 4th International Geography Congress, started on January 16, 2013, in Bhubaneswar, the speakers, organizers and experts opined that the balance between nature and development must be maintained to ensure sustainable growth.

While scientists have predicted and expressed their concern over the tipping point that earth may reach because of over exploitation of natural resources causing serious damage to the ecology, Prof Nandakishore Mahalik who attended the geography congress responded to such predictions saying, “Population growth is like anything. They are consuming the resources of different sorts without bothering for what will happen in future. There is no proper planning.


We speak lot of things that we are doing this, doing that. In actual practice it doesn’t go that way. For example, forests are going before us, animals are going before us, we speak only but very little we do. Though we are trying to do something that is not enough the way things are happening downslide. We are not able to arrest it.”

“We are not bothered about the future”, said Prof Mahalik while pointing at insufficient steps in this regard and the ongoing conflict between nature and the so called development.

“Actually, need of the day is to understand the entire (eco)-system, I would say, in totality. There are a number of services we call it ecosystem services which are not visible. So, we have to also take care of that. For sustainable management we have to have a very good understanding of it,” said Dr Ajit Kumar Patnaik, Chief Executive, Chilka Development Authority and Project Director, Integrated Coastal Zone Management Programme (ICZMP), Odisha, adding that “I think there is a kind of consensus world over which surfaced during the last CBD-COP at Hyderabad. There also scientists expressed their concern that unless we maintain our biodiversity we are heading towards a disaster.”

Sharing a similar view that global warming and climate change would pose biggest threat to the earth, Prof Gopal Krishna Panda of Department of Geography, Utkal University, reposed faith on human intelligence in tackling with the impacts of climate change saying, “Science has always an answer to that and community has always a kind of adaptation to the situation. So we have to think that man, as an intelligent animal, can accommodate to the situation in a way that things are coming up.” Prof Panda, however, emphasised that harmony with the nature must be maintained.

The theme of the congress being “Coastal Zone Management: issues & challenges”, a special plenary session following the inaugural session discussed on Integrated Coastal Zone Management: issues and lessons from ICZM Project, Odisha.

Presiding over the session, Dr Pattnaik underlined the importance of the coastal zone ecosystem and its ecological integrity. Stating that “Sustainable management of the coastal and marine resources is essential for long term economic growth and to ensure the equilibrium between economic development and environment protection,” Dr Patnaik further said while talking about ICZMP in Odisha, “In the coastal zone management also we are trying to give utmost priority to bridge the knowledge gap through various studies. And, based on that, we want to develop a coastal zone management plan where we plan to include the physical element, the human element, at the same time the socio-economic element and also how the ecosystem performs in long term. So there is no other go but we have to see to it that there should be a perfect balance between the environment as well as whatever development we are thinking of or we are planning to do.”

Dr Patnaik also emphasized upon the importance of extensive stakeholder consultation and conflict resolution in ICZM Planning.

The Geography Congress, to continue till January 18, 2013, bears huge relevance as most of the Odisha coast is experiencing geographical and ecological changes because of erosion and the impact of rising temperature even in the tropical regions has put the state at the frontline of climate change vulnerability.


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