JAIPUR:Former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh today said it is important to balance the pursuit of 8 per cent growth and protection of the environment, stressing on the need for public participation to put pressure on the government for the same.
Addressing a session during the Jaipur Literature Festival, which began today, Ramesh argued that it was crucial for India to embrace sustainable development, which is now a necessity for the country.
“There is a perceived conflict between the objective of getting new jobs, getting new investment, pushing GDP and the objective of protecting natural resources. With all governments there is a conflict between these, and I am afraid that in most of the cases, the choices when they are made, are in favour boosting economic growth and not necessarily protecting the environment,” he said.
“Sustainable development for us is not a luxury but a necessity. We may have not caused global warming in the past, but we certainly have maximum vulnerability to it, in terms of monsoon, glaciers, forest cover, rising sea levels. No other country has such multiple dimensions of vulnerability,” Ramesh said.
“We need to make a choice to have 8 per cent growth, but at the same time protect our environment, our rivers and our forests. It is possible when systems of public participation begin to put pressure on the government to do things differently,” he added.
The former minister was in conversation with Alex Shoumatoff, Valmik Thapar, Ajay Mathur and Suman Sahai in the session titled “Red Signals, Green Hopes”.
Ramesh also spoke against the “Grow Now, Pay Later” model followed by most countries around the world including China, where the focus remains exclusively on economic growth without worrying about its consequences.
“The temptation to follow the “grow now, pay later model” followed by China is very strong. This attitude of worrying about consequences of economic growth later is ingrained in us,” he said.
An important argument for moving away from that kind of thinking is that climate change is now having an enormous public health impact in terms of air and water pollution and chemical contamination, he said.