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Protection of Ecology and Environment is Essential for Sustained Economic Development

Pritam Kashyap
Pritam Kashyap

Economic development and environmental sustainability are important to mankind. Rapid growth in today's world is causing damage to the environment and the sustainability of such growth. Hence, India must strive to manage a balance between economic development and environmental sustainability. Economic development envisaged increasing economic activity through infrastructural development, industrialization, technology etc. Environmental sustainability vouches for the good environment not only for the present generation but also for the coming generation. 

Every year we hear news like nearly 17,000 grown trees will be chopped off for redevelopment of central government accommodations in South Delhi. Trees have been felled regularly across the country to make way for concrete monstrosities. Between 2008 and 2017, nearly 20,000 thousand trees have been cut in Bengaluru to make way for flyovers, road widening and other projects. In Gurugram in 2016-17 alone close to 10,000 trees were cut.  According to government data over the last 30 years, forests nearly two-thirds the size of Haryana have been lost to encroachments and industrial projects. Ten saplings have to be substituted for every tree cut, as per guidelines by the Forest Department but compensatory plantation has not been a successful solution for cutting old trees. 

India is considered to be the world's largest growing economy. In the race of this growth, India should give high priority to environmental protection and work to limit its degradation. There are various reasons why India needs a proper balance between economic development and environment sustainability firstly by improving the social-economic status of the nation i.e. India has almost 70% residing population residing in a rural area. They are deprived of the basic facility like portable water, sanitation, health, education, electricity, connectivity, transport etc. The huge chunk of the population has not tasted the benefits of development projects. Secondly, Global warming and increasing catastrophic incidents like drought, flash flood, landslides and the unpredicted and extreme environment have affected marginalized people. It's been seen that the economic growth without any environmental concerns will make us pay bigger prices in future as is seen with some fast-growing countries like China. 

India can take the following action to strike a proper balance between these two by rational evaluation of the project which sometimes goes without Environment Clearance or Environment Impact Assessment (EIA). The government authority should try to understand the need of both. The government initiative like Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) is good but its fund is still stuck in the legal process. The environment should be least hampered and the new projects should be planned accordingly to it. The government initiative of planting trees across the highway will increase the green cover. The renewable energy sector needs to be focused as the government has started promoting renewable energy. As per India's Intended nationally determined contributions (INDC), Government of India has set a target of installing 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by the year 2022, which includes 100 GW from solar, 60 GW from wind, 10 GW from bio-power and 5 GW from small hydro-power. This will also reduce the cost of petroleum product import. The burden on subsidy for public welfare like kerosene, electricity to poor section will reduce. The demand of the time is a proper balance between these two without neglecting either. This will only fetch a holistic development for the country. Even the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) along with the preamble to the 2030 Agenda, world leaders affirmed that they are: “Determined to protect the planet from degradation, including through sustainable consumption and production, sustainably managing its natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change, so that it can support the needs of the present and future generations.” 

 

India can manage its economic growth and environment sustainability: 

  • By taking stringent action against organizations which are not complying with our environmental laws.
  • Strengthening its supervising functions to identify the non-compliant organization in initial stages.
  • Sensitizing people about the harmful effects of pollutants and diseases caused by it.
  • Encouraging R&D to develop more environmentally friendly technologies.
  • Use of more renewable sources for fulfilling its energy requirements.
  • Strengthen the existing quasi-government bodies like the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs). Establish mandatory provision for compulsory monitoring and ensure timely enforcement by setting accountability of these boards. 
  • Developing countries should maintain pressure on developed countries for the timely release of funds (100$ billion) committed in COP-21. Transfer of green technologies and assistance in river rejuvenation should be persuaded effectively. In this regard, close coordination between countries and germane global organization is essential.
  • Environmental planning is an integral part of the development process. For Example, the energy from coal is cheaper, but it uses 4 times more water than natural gas, also further economic expenditure needed to mitigate the impact of the increase in carbon dioxide production.
  • Providing Green jobs can also be future for sustained development.

Environmental sustainability needs to be seen as a promoter rather than an impediment to economic development. For the sake of prosperity and development of its people in particular and the world in general, India has to maintain a fine balance between economic development and environmental sustainability. The transition to economic growth coupled with efficiency in natural resource use and its conservation can help India attain its goals of inclusive growth with sustainable development. 

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