The Indira Gandhi National Open University's (IGNOUs) Chair for Sustainable Development (CSD) has entered into a pact with the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON), an organization under the Ministry of Environment and Forests mainly working towards the conservation of nature and natural resources with birds to offer programmes in the area of Environmental Impact Assessment and Ornithology. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), signed by the Registrar of the university Mr. U.S.Tolia and Dr. P.A. Azeez on behalf of SACON in the presence of Prof. Latha Pillai and Prof. P.R. Ramanujam, Pro VCs of IGNOU, offers a six month programme called PG Certificate in Environmental Management System and a year-long programme called PG Diploma in Environmental Impact Assessment and Management for students through online mode. The courses are expected to be launched in April 2012. “With fast changing needs we must have people for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). We are in a situation where we look at development at the cost of nature. Through the Chair of Sustainability Development we are sensitizing people towards issues which matter for the ecological balance of the country. Besides launching these online diploma programmes we can also look forward for activities like inviting students for bird watching,” said Prof. Latha Pillai, Pro VC, IGNOU. She also cited examples of programmes under the university aiming at bringing environmental sustainability. The course is being planned at a time, when there is a major boost in industrial growth in the country due to economic liberalization and globalization, which is essentially following an unsustainable path by degrading environmental quality and depleting natural resources including the non-renewable resources which are finite in supply. In this juncture, the role of EIA to harmonize the development and bring about sustainability in the country needs to be communicated to a large public cutting across professional interests. Dr. Azeez briefed about SACON and its activities and its involvement in research, extension and outreach programmes. He drew attention to the unorganized development in the country leading to unsustainability in natural resources exploitation and the role of EIA as a tool for sustainable development in India. He also emphasized the issue of lack of skilled personnel for undertaking EIA and the requirement for offering such programmes.
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