Urban diversity debate marks World Environment Day: The Tribune India

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Tribune press service

Patiala, June 1

Environmentalist Brij Mohan Bhardwaj today discussed urban diversity, the importance of water harvesting and conservation, trees, birds and the natural environment on the first day of two-day observance of World Environment Day at Punjab University, Patiala.

Known for his work on plants, trees and birds, Dr Bhardwaj said the country’s urban areas are facing high temperatures, pollution and soil compaction, among other environmental issues. “The number of trees in cities is declining, reducing urban diversity. We are facing a ‘nature deficit disorder’ which affects our mental and physical health, especially that of children, resulting in low sensitivity in them,” he said.

Dr Brij Mohan said greenery – trees and plants – is a very important factor in reducing heat islands. “The presence of trees in urban areas helps to reduce energy consumption, air conditioners and the like, because they themselves regulate the ambient temperature. So the longer and bigger a tree lives, the more carbon it sequesters and therefore needs to be preserved,” he added.

He said: “Communities with green blankets also experience lower crime rates and better property prices, providing economic value. Birds live in these trees and feed on insects. There are 452 species of birds in Punjab. The more trees there are, the more species of birds there will be in our environment.

He spoke about water resources, including village ponds, and gave the example of Budha Dariya of Ludhiana which is now called the ‘budha nullah’ due to the high levels of pollution it contains. He said: “There is an emerging need to implement rainwater harvesting and groundwater recharge. These are propagated by the government, but not implemented on the ground.

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