Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar said here on Sunday no volume of academic discussion on the pressing need for salvaging environment and nature from the brink of disaster would serve the purpose unless it was matched with a sustained effort to bring about a change in public mentality.
Inaugurating a national seminar on ‘Urban Dynamics and Smart City Prospect in Bihar and Jharkhand’, organised by The Association of Geographers, the chief minister said unbridled urbanisation, in the name of development, had its own sets of problems.
“Proper planning should be done to minimise the side effects of environmental interference and human confrontation with nature,” he said.
The chief minister said birds were nowhere to be seen in several cities of China. In contrast, you can hear the chirping of birds in Patna, which was more like a big village. “But danger is lurking here too with damage caused to the environment, by the use of kerosene to adulterate petrol for small profit”, he pointed out.
“It is all about attitude and mentality. Dirt, litter and garbage are strewn on city roads, which remain spick and span for two days during Chath, once the festival is over. What needs to be done to bring about a change in habits,” he said and asked expertsto come up with motivational stories to ignite consciousness and encourage an environment friendly approach.
Increase in number of electronic gadgets, growing consumption of energy, waste generation and sewerage water were all adding up to precipitate environmental imbalance and the challenge had to met on a priority basis. “While scientists and experts maintain that earth was hurtling towards an inevitable destruction in 100 years, I have a feeling that the time was running out faster than imagined,” he said.
“We are ready to consider the opening of a Centre for Geography at Aryabhatt Knowledge University, like the newly established Centre for River Studies”, the chief minister said, adding, that the government was making environment protection a key point in its developmental initiative.
Chief secretary Anjani Kumar Singh said a majority of the cities of Bihar and Jharkhand were not planned and more like outgrown villages. There had been substantial increase in population, number of vehicles and service providers which, in turn, has contributed to the problem of garbage, pollution and slums, he pointed out.
Abha Lakshmi Singh from Aligarh University, in her keynote address, raised a question mark on the concept of smart cities and asked whether it was in a position to fulfil the future needs and aspirations of stakeholders. “Will it fulfil the needs of slum dwellers, wishes of elite, resolve disconnect between city development and basic amenities and pass muster of sustainable development,” she asked, leaving the question open for discussion.
Vice chancellor of Patna University Prof Rash Bihari Singh said that in the midst of challenges posed by increasing population and pollution, the question how to use urban land assumed greater importance than ever.
Principal of AN College S P Shahi welcomed the guests, while Purnima Shekhar Singh, convenor of the two-day event, proposed a vote of thanks. Tuntun Jha and LN Ram of AGBJ were also present.