& ECOLOGICAL ENVIRONMENT IN INDIAN CONTEXT:
A satellite picture, taken in 2004,
shows thick haze and smoke along the Ganges Basin in northern India. Major
sources of aerosols in this area are believed to be smoke from biomass burning
in the northwest part of India, and air pollution from large cities in northern
India. Dust from deserts in Pakistan and the Middle East may also contribute to
the mix of aerosols.
There are many environmental issues
in India. Air pollution, water pollution, garbage, and pollution of the natural
environment are all challenges for India. The situation was worse between 1947
through 1995. According to data collection and environment assessment studies
of World Bank experts, between 1995 through 2010, India has made one of the
fastest progresses in the world, in addressing its environmental issues and
improving its environmental quality. Still, India has a long way to go to reach
environmental quality similar to those enjoyed in de veloped economies.
Pollution remains a major challenge and opportunity for India.
Environmental issues are one of the
primary causes of disease, health issues and long term livelihood impact for
Floods are a significant
environmental issue for India. It causes soil erosion, destruction of wetlands
and wide migration of solid wastes.
Major environmental issues are
forest and agricultural degradation of land, resource depletion (water,
mineral, forest, sand, rocks etc.), environmental degradation, public health,
loss of biodiversity, loss of resilience in ecosystems, livelihood security for
The major sources of pollution in
India include the rampant burning of fuel wood and biomass such as dried waste
from livestock as the primary source of energy, lack of organized garbage and
waste removal services, lack of sewage treatment operations, lack of flood
control and monsoon water drainage system, diversion of consumer waste into
rivers, cremation practices near major rivers, government mandated protection
of highly polluting old public transport, and continued operation by Indian
government of government owned, high emission plants built between 1950 to
Air pollution, poor management of
waste, growing water scarcity, falling groundwater tables, water pollution,
preservation and quality of forests, biodiversity loss, and land/soil
degradation are some of the major environmental issues India faces today.
India's population growth adds
pressure to environmental issues and its resources.
growth and environmental quality
There is a long history of study and
debate about the interactions between population growth and the environment.
According to a British thinker Malthus, for example, a growing population
exerts pressure on agricultural land, causing environmental degradation, and
forcing the cultivation of land of poorer as well as poorer quality. This
environmental degradation ultimately reduces agricultural yields and food
availability, causes famines and diseases and death, thereby reducing the rate
of population growth.
Population growth, because it can
place increased pressure on the assimilative capacity of the environment, is
also seen as a major cause of air, water, and solid-waste pollution. The
result, Malthus theorized, is an equilibrium population that enjoys low levels
of both income and environmental quality. Malthus suggested positive and
preventative forced control of human population, along with abolition of poor
Malthus theory, published between 1798
and 1826, has been analyzed and criticized ever since. The American thinker
Henry George, for example, observed with his characteristic piquancy in
dismissing Malthus: "Both the jay hawk and the man eat chickens; but the
more Jayhawks, the fewer chickens, while the more men, the more chickens."
Similarly, the American economist Julian Lincoln Simon criticized Malthus's
theory. He noted that the facts of human history have proven the predictions of
Malthus and of the Neo-Malthusians to be flawed. Massive geometric population
growth in the 20th century did not result in a Malthusian catastrophe. The
possible reasons include: increase in human knowledge, rapid increases in
productivity, innovation and application of knowledge, general improvements in
farming methods (industrial agriculture), mechanization of work (tractors), the
introduction of high- yield varieties of wheat and other plants (Green
Revolution), the use of pesticides to control crop pests.
More recent scholarly articles
concede that whilst there is no questio n that population growth may contribute
to environmental degradation, its effects can be modified by economic growth
and modern technology. Research in environmental economics has uncovered a
relationship between environmental quality, measured by ambient concentrations
of air pollutants and per capita income. This so-called environmental Kuznets
curve shows environmental quality worsening up until about $5,000 of per capita
income on purchasing parity basis, and improving thereafter. The key
requirement, for this to be true, is continued adoption of technology and
scientific management of resources, continued increases in productivity in
every economic sector, entrepreneurial innovation and economic expansion.