Rampant illegal mining, unchecked pollution and loose enforcement of green laws are the three main areas on which the Madhya Pradesh government must focus on a priority basis, outgoing expert member of central bench of National Green Tribunal PS Rao said on Friday.
"Madhya Pradesh is at crossroads on the environmental front," the retired Indian Forest Service officer of Andhra Pradesh cadre said.
"The widespread illegal mining needs to be stopped foremost and a holistic approach must be taken to check pollution, especially water pollution. Also there should be strict enforcement of the green laws about which many officials are not yet fully acquainted with," Rao said while talking to the reporters here in Bhopal.
Rao has served in the central bench of National Green Tribunal for nearly one-and-a-half year and was an expert member in at least 350 hearings.
Rao is also a recipient of national award for Excellence in Forestry Research from Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education.
Rao is being replaced by Ranjan Chatterjee as the new expert member in the Bhopal bench of NGT. Chatterjee is likely to join Bhopal bench on Monday.
When questioned why the NGT did not take strict action against the state government officials who were delaying the implementation of the NGT orders, Rao said that till now the Bhopal bench had given a long rope to the officials but it was time to be strict.
"When it comes to environment, punishment does not always work. We want enough awareness so that all stakeholders contribute in the protection and conservation of the environment," he said.
Rao, who has also worked as professor in Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM), Bhopal said it was high time the MP government started taking environmental issues seriously as they would increase if unattended in the backdrop of increase in urbanisation.
"At the government-level there are also issues like staff and resources crunch, whether it is in case of 360 civic bodies or state pollution control board, which also need to be taken care of for effective enforcement of environmental laws," he said.