With the population inflicted by Covid-19(not in the worst forms though), groping for a few assuages and economy, struck by slowdown, desperately seeking a kickstart, Budget 2021 appeared to be the most awaited as a saviour yet to be welcomed, a harbinger of normalcy that has proven to be a privilege after so long yet the Human nature seeks for more.
To awaken the battered economy, our Government seems to have put gross faith in Infrastructure development. And why not?
When we need initiatives those yield instant and constant results with respect to prevailing unemployment, chaos, stalled capital markets, what else can save us from such aftermath of a great pandemic.
India has planned to spend US$ 1.4 trillion during 2019-2023 time period, on infrastructure in order to have a sustainable development of the country. The Government has also suggested an investment of Rs. 5,000,000 crore (US$ 750 billion) for building and renovating railways infrastructure from 2018-30.
It aims to significantly enhance the CapEx(capital expenditure) and creating Institutional structures thereby giving a big thrust to monetizing the assets for National Infrastructure Pipeline as an ultimate goal for the Ministry, encompassing 7400 projects in all under one ceiling.
But what about the opportunity cost?
In simple Economics, it is clearly stated that Development for One may not be development for the Other.
Like the Supreme Court has suggested the government recently to frame a protocol that makes it mandatory for any industry or Authority to include “rationalised” tree value in the cost-benefit analysis of its projects.
The judicial notice of an expert committee report stated and has calculated the felling of 300 heritage trees(100years and beyond) to construct five Railway over-bridges in West Bengal as ₹2,23,50,00,000 (₹2.2 billion) lost for India.
Upon summing, a tree is worth ₹74,500 a year. Out of this, the cost of oxygen alone is going to be ₹45,000, followed by the cost of biofertilisers worth ₹20,000. Even adding the values of micronutrients and compost, the report stated, living trees will more often, outweigh the benefit of most of the projects they are felled for.
Therefore, when we are already at the mercy of Mother Nature, it’s high time we begin implementing all those plans we make to serve the purpose to Nature and consequently the Mankind. We can begin working with the alternatives.
When it comes to development we need to make sure that it has to be sustainable and above all, inclusive.
Road ecology is practiced as a field of inquiry by a variety of ecologists, biologists, hydrologists, engineers, and other scientists to assess and study the ecological impacts of road infrastructure on one’s surroundings.
It is our dire need to review our Environment Impact Assessments strongly and unquestionably for every project that begins and ends.
It’s better to be late than sorry. We cannot undone whatever changes we have made on our once-serene Environment but we can be cautious in deciding our future from the road to development.
Like the Robert Frost said in the The Road Not Taken:
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference”