Quotation for consideration:
“One economic study found that in order to save the 5,000 northern spotted owl from the threat of extinction, by keeping the environment untouched in a particular forest area in the US North West, costed US $466 bn (i.e, $9 mn per owl) in lost economic cost. Couldn’t another more cost effective solution be found?” – Anon.
For wealth to be created new sources of natural / mineral resources have to be located, extracted and utilized. It cannot be any one’s rational argument, in a country with an ever increasing population, to do without such resources.
Obviously such resources will mostly be found, in up to now largely unexplored / undeveloped regions, which are forested / coastal / environmentally undisturbed and are occupied by Tribals / Adivasis / Wild life.
Operations for extraction and beneficiation of such resources are by their very nature very disruptive of the environment and of the local population / wild life.
Hence ways must be found to do so with the least amount of such disruption and ensuring reclamation of the land to environmentally acceptable and wild life friendly standards once the extraction is over and more importantly, ways to suitably compensate the Tribals / Adivasis affected.
Should we allow the Tribals / Adivasis the right of informed choice or arrogate to ourselves the right to choose for them?
To believe that the Tribals / Adivasis are, only by virtue of living therein for generations, the best conservators of the Forest / Environment is to not know the history of others like them, of the Easter Islanders, Anasazis etc (refer “Collapse” by Jared Diamond). We should keep in mind that such people may be ignorant of modern life, but that they are quite capable of understanding the options, if properly informed about them, and making the choice best for them. They, and their culture, are not museum exhibits and no outsider should arrogate to himself the right to choose for them.
To think that they would continue to prefer to live as they do now, or asking them to choose without being able to make an informed choice, is again to not learn from history. (Eskimos and Papua New Guineans who went from the ‘Stone Age to the Jet Age’ in one generation in the 1950-60’s and the ‘Bushmen / Khoisan’ the aboriginal Hunter gatherers of South Africa, and the ‘Orang Asli’ the aboriginals in the primary forest of Malaysia – all more Ancient than most of our Adivasis / Tribals who are mainly those who have, in order to escape persecution, reverted back to forest living in the secondary or tertiary forests of India). People, even Adivasis / Tribals, need to have a population density high enough to sustain their culture. Declining isolated populations soon lose all their complex skills and regress into subsistence survival. This cannot be their choice. All such isolated aboriginal populations, once given the option of an informed choice in modern times, have chosen to share in the benefits of the Civilization around them while however still trying to retain some cultural customs and identity though in more practical and modified forms.
Blind admiration for our past, prevents us from noting the extensive de-forestation and environmental degradation across much of our Country by our ancestors, leaving most of it as scrub land, nor about the environmental damage caused by mining of Gold (Kolar), Coal, Iron and Clay (brick making) etc in so many ancient locations.
We today should consider ourselves fortunate that we are aware of the nature and extent of the harm such ‘Extractive Industries’ can do to our environment and to the peoples and animals living therein, and have at our disposal the skills and technologies for being able to greatly mitigate it all, both during and after the extraction / benefication process.