Environmental Challenges in Northeast India
- The Meghalaya High Court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on the cleanliness of the Umiam Lake.
- The Umiam Lake case brought attention to the adverse impact of unregulated construction and tourism on the lake and around the water body.
- The court emphasized that economic development shouldn’t come at the cost of destroying the region’s natural beauty.
- The Meghalaya Water Bodies (Preservation and Conservation) Guidelines, 2023, were criticized for inadequately addressing the issue of unchecked construction around water bodies, highlighting the need for more comprehensive regulations.
- Northeast India is a green belt region due to its abundant natural resources such as oil, natural gas, minerals and freshwater.
- The Garo-Khasi-Jaintia hills and the Brahmaputra valley are some of the most important biodiversity hotspots.
- Northeast India is a part of the Indo-Burma hotspot.
- Though the northeast is industrially backward, deforestation, floods, and existing industries are causing serious problems to the environment in the region.
- An environmental assessment of the North East Rural Livelihood Project undertaken by the Ministry of Development of the North-eastern Region lays out that “Northeast India lies within an ecologically fragile, biologically rich region, highly prone to climatic changes, located in transboundary river basins.
- Both flora and fauna of the areas are under threat due to Deforestation, Mining, Quarrying, and Shifting Cultivation.
- Recently, the Meghalaya High Court In the case of Re: Cleanliness of Umiam Lake versus State of Meghalaya, 2023, stated that “In the absence of any other employment opportunities the natural beauty of the State should not be destroyed”.
- The Ruling shed light on the challenge of promoting tourism, infrastructure development, and construction while safeguarding the region’s natural beauty.
- To effectively address environmental issues at all governance levels, uniform and comprehensive environmental legislation is crucial.
- Such legislation would bridge gaps in regulations, ensuring that economic growth aligns with environmental sustainability.