Jairam Ramesh exclusively spoke to OneIndia and spoke about how conservation and development could go hand in hand.
How conservation and development can go hand in hand
"When you try to bring conservation and development together there are contradictions, there are conflicts. Those have to be managed. It is not easy to bring development and conservation together. At a practical level certain choices need to be made. When those choices are made certain people are happy, certain people are not," he said.
Sometimes the choice will favour development, sometimes the choice will favour conservation, he added.
"Secondly, you need to manage conflict. Conflict is inherent in the way this intergration takes place. Democratic processes have to be followed. That is why the gram sabha is very important, the role of panchayat institutions is very important. Since we are living in a democratic system you cannot do away with these," he said.
Stressing on the need to include locals in the process of conservation, Ramesh said that locals have to be taken into confidence. "People's livelihood is important. You cannot say that am going to open a coal bank and not take the local community into confidence.
These are the issues that are very important as we try to bring conservation and development together," he said.
Western Ghats- a unique ecosystem
Speaking about the Western Ghats and its bio-diversity, Ramesh said that 'the Western Ghats is a unique ecosystem. "It contributes not only to the preservation of the bio diversity, medicinal plants and trees but it is also a very valuable carbon sink. It absorbs carbon," he said.
"When it comes to Western Ghats we need to be careful with mining, power projects as there can be long term damage to the environment," he said.
Recycling is important
Speaking at the event, Ramesh said that in order to contribute to conservation, we need to recycle. "Recycling is important. We must get into the habit of recycling as it is necessary for the environment," he said.
Citing an example of Geneva, Ramesh said that 'the water that people drink in Geneva is sewer water which is treated seven times, recycled and then consumed.' "Similary we need to recycle and at the same time protect water, air, rivers and the moutnains too to contribute to conservation," he said.