The celebration of the 50th Earth Day Today, 22nd April holds a unique agenda for the global community as after a long gap of several years we have seen the global environment in perfectly good health, particulate matter PM1 and PM2.5 both coming down to their lowest levels of 4 and 6 micrograms per cubic meters (Safe Limit being 20 as per WHO) as we approach 39 days of Covid-19 nationwide lockdown. Thanks to the Covid lockdown for making this happen for the Mother Earth.
The excellent health of environment achieved through great pains of isolation in lockdown and a complete halt of economic and business activity should enable us seriously ponder and to draw a number of lessons from the current Pandemic crisis that has resulted into approximately 177000 deaths worldwide, says Prof PB Sharma Vice Chancellor Amity University Gurugram who is also the former President of the Association of Indian Universities, AIT.
Firstly, the development to serve the cause of accelerated growth of the economy can not be allowed without protecting the interest of Mother Nature and thus, in turn, its people and the entire creation.
Secondly, the madness to flood the roads with vehicles fuelled by petro carbon fuels, pollution emitting chimneys of the industries, untreated discharge of industrial effluents and untreated sewage into the rivers and water bodies can not be allowed to go on unabated, lest we invite the nature fury such as the enormous threat of Climate Change, Natural Disasters and even Pandemic Viruses of the kind that has made us all suffer so badly as now.
The ancient Indians as early as the Vedic times were wiser to call themselves "Prithvi Putras", the Children of Mother Earth, as Arthur Veda said and they paid their greatest attention to preserve the vast eco-diversity and made 'Harmony with Nature' as their way of life. For them there was no peace for the man without the peace for the natural environment, peace for the entire planet Mother Earth and even the peace for upper skys that they called Aantriksha.
Their prayers and daily practices were an assurance to cultivate this vital harmony and sustain the peace, in turn, create both prosperity and happiness together.
No wonder this worked well to sustain a happy and healthy life for several millenniums without disturbing the ecological balance, nor the exploitation of natural resources beyond the needs of man and the living creatures.
Blue sky, clean air, pure water and rich natural resources provided by Mother Earth gave an assurance for sustaining a happy and healthy life of a good 100 years or even more for humans in India and around the globe.
But then empowered with the power of science and might of technology in the modern age of science and technology innovation, the man began to exploit nature and destroy its environment with madness to achieve great economic growth, even at the cost of great economic disparity and with least care for the health of the environment.
India, once adorned with its holy Rivers of Nectar of Divine and purest of pure Pran Vayu, the air turned into one of the most polluted countries in the world in 21st Century.
It pains to read that 21 out of 30 most polluted cities in the world now are in India as per the World Air Quality report 2019.
What more of the 10 most polluted cities in the world we have 7 in India and of these 5 are in Delhi and the NCR. These include Gaziabad, Delhi, Noida, Faridabad and Gurugram.
So as we celebrate the 50th Earth Day Today in Lockdown due to Corona Virus, let us pledge to desist in the future from unabated exploitation of Nature and its natural resources.
We the people of this great republic and our government of the day should with greater ambition and with unwavering conviction draw a blue print and plan of action to seriously work together to maintain excellent health of the environment.
I feel immensely delighted to mention at Amity University Gurugram we have the state of art Earth Station and a NASA Aeronet facility to monitor the environmental health and also the aerosol optical depth. Polling together the brain waves of international and national scientists engaged in research on the health of environment we have made concrete recommendations for implementation of the National Clean Air Program of Govt of India to achieve bigger goals to reduce the air pollution to 20 % of the levels in 2019 by 2024. These recommendations are available on our website www.amitu.edu/gurugram
Let us all join hands with the Secretary General of UN Mr Antonio Guterres who in his message on the 50th Earth Day today said " We must act decisively to Protect our planet from both the Corona Virus and the existential threat of Climate Disruption. The current crisis is an unprecedented wake up call. We need to turn the recovery into a real opportunity to do things right for the future".
Thus let us resolve to work post Covid lockdown and make the economic recovery on pathways of Green Economy powered by Green Engineering inspired by the Spiritual strength of Science that the Nobel laureate Madam Curie called for as early as 1943 in her brief address at the celebration of 25 years of the discovery of radium. Unfortunately in our greed to accelerate the wheels of growth we often undermine the spiritual strength of Science and the might of Green Engineering and thus pay a heavy price for neglecting the interest of man and Mother Nature, says Prof PB Sharma Vice Chancellor Amity University Gurugram who is also the Founder Vice-Chancellor DTU and RGPV.