The main function to observe the World Environment Day on 5th June, 1999 was held in the Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi.
Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India was the Chief Guest and Shri Suresh P. Prabhu, Hon’ble Minister for Environment & Forests presided over the function.
The Prime Minister while speaking about the concern of environmental degradation cautioned that if rich nations continued to put unrelenting pressure on our planet’s limited and non-renewable resources and if the present glaring imbalances in global economic growth continued, it would be difficult to prevent the damages to the environment on a universal scale. He regretted that ironically it is the poor who have to pay a heavier price for the guilt of the rich.
Stressing that there was no basic conflict between development and environmental protection, the Prime Minister called for broadening and deepening the sweep of environmental protection as a people’s movement.
On the 21st Foundation Day of the National Museum of Natural History, which falls on the World Environment Day, the Prime Minister appreciated the key role this museum has played in sensitizing children about the priceless biodiversity of India. He was happy to state that the Ministry has been running many such programmes to expose the students of schools and colleges to the rich flora and fauna of our country and emphasised that these efforts should be further expanded.
Hon’ble Prime Minister also launched a nation-wide bamboo plantation drive and presented bamboo saplings to the representative Forest Ministers and Principal Chief Conservators of Forests of the various States. He also gave away awards to the "Visisth Vaigynaiks" declared by the Ministry and released a set of ten numbers of multicolour Posters on themes of environment produced by the National Museum of Natural History, New Delhi.
To further mark the Foundation Day programme of the National Museum of Natural History, Shri Suresh P. Prabhu, Hon’ble Minister for Environment & Forests, presided over the second part of the function where he gave away prizes to the winners of the Declamation Contest which was organised by the museum on the "Earth Day" on 22nd April, 1999.
The Minister also decorated one of the teenagers with the title "Young Environmentalist" whose performance was the best during the month-long Summer Programme conducted by the museum. He also awarded the prizes to the winners of prizes constituted by the Ministry for original writing in Hindi on Environmental subjects.
A pledge was also taken by the heads and representatives of some of the partner institutions of the Hindustan Times - Partnership for Action in Education (MT-PACE) which included the National Science Centre, National Bal Bhawan, National Museum of Natural History, National Rail Museum, Worldwide Fund for Nature-India and the Centre for Cultural Resources and Training. The pledge was to dedicate the next year’s programmes and activities of the Network towards the conservation and protection of the environment.
The NMNH Foundation Day Lecture was delivered by the renowned environmentalist Father Cecil J. Saldana, Director, Centre for Taxonomic Studies, Bangalore on this year's UNEP World Environment Day theme — "Our Earth, Our Future - Just Save it!" He elaborated the theme with his illustrative slides projections which starkly showed the tremendous injury inflicted by humans on the Mother Earth and the dire need to save it.