The environment has a direct impact on the health and well-being of the humans. For generations, we have taken our earth and its environment for granted, and today we have reached the verge of severe environmental crisis. We were never as vulnerable to natural disasters as we are today. The problems are being piled, and feasible solutions are yet to be found and implemented. The most talked about the environmental issue of global warming is not the only problem that hounds us today, a plethora of various environmental issues are affecting our ecosystems and drastically changing the natural landscape.
Here is a crisis that we face, who shall own the accountability for the environment – the ones who govern (the governments) or the ones that are regulated (the citizens)? It is a pertinent question that deserves a sustainable answer.
We elect the government for our welfare and governance, and in turn, the citizens have to follow and adhere to the rules, regulations, laws and the general guidelines. The same logic extends when it comes to deciding the scope and responsibilities of the government and the ones that are governed, in regards to the environment.
The various environmental regulations in India have been a serious concern. There is a general feeling that these legislations have always lacked teeth. It is still an immature and early analysis to blame the government machinery in regards to the implementation of the regulations.
The flaw exists at two levels. At one end we have environmental regulations that consider the convenience of the general public, i.e., the dominance of human beings over nature and the planet. Then, on the other hand, we have citizens that are ignorant towards environmental issues. Nature is complex, with all constituents interconnected and self-regulating. Human interventions cause complications, and when economic welfare is at the core of regulations, the failures are bound to happen.
Let us not start with laws but instead create awareness and the gravity of the situation when it comes to making environmental issues our priority. Take, for instance, air conditioners or RO water purifiers that are now a standard appliance of an average Indian middle-class household. These might be symbols of prosperity and progress, but it denominates the degradation in our lifestyle that is adversely affecting the environment.
Change in habits and lifestyle is voluntary, but we as the citizens and the consumer of environment need to play a pivotal role in the enforcement of the legislation related to the environment.
The citizens not only have the rights but also have the responsibilities. The constitutional privileges become non-existent if the duties are not understood and obeyed in daily life.
The positive and responsible attitude on the part of every citizen is necessary for the enforcement of these legislations. Awareness regarding environmental issues is critical, but a realization is even more critical. Understanding is deemed essential that we need to fight our own fights and in the electoral system of governance, this comprehension is of utmost importance.