India is a country of over a billion people who either live in urban or rural areas. Based on the location of where they reside, the facilities differ on the basis of the environment.
While the urban areas are characterized by deteriorating air quality and rivers polluted by disposal of untreated sewage and industrial waste dumped in the environment. Whereas in rural areas there are other hindrances, they are also not immune to pollution. In rural areas, too, the quality of land is degrading because of the wide use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The near-extinction of vultures from the country is an extreme example of what chemical drugs can do to the flora and fauna around us in the environment.
According to a study by the World Bank, environmental degradation costs India around USD80 billion per year, which amounts to around 5.7% of the GDP. This statistic is enough to convince the capitalists who are mainly concerned with the country’s GDP. Environmental Degradation costs billions of dollars per year.
Another startling statistic is that out of an ecological survey of 178 countries, India’s ranking is at 155. This is at the bottom amongst the BRIC nations. Shockingly, surveys also found that out of the world’s 20 most polluted cities, 13 are in India. Mainly, the biggest problems in India in the World Bank report are plenty. They range from air pollution, the degradation of croplands, pastures, and forests, to poor water supply and sanitation.
Whereas the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction has given the definition of environmental degradation. It is “the reduction of the capacity of the environment to meet social and ecological objectives and needs”.
But to understand the level of environmental degradation, we need to first look at the various environmental issues in India.
Environmental Issues in India
India has a long way to go to achieve an environmental quality similar to that in developed economies. Pollution remains a major challenge to tackle for India. Furthermore, environmental issues are one of the primary causes of disease, health issues, and have long-term impacts on the livelihoods of Indians.
Firstly, the root cause of most of the environmental challenges India faces is the population explosion.
Firstly, water pollution in groundwater, as well as drinking water, is a major issue all over the country. Most of the Indian rivers, especially the smaller ones, are today’s toxic drains: Sabarmati, Bhadra, Yamuna, Damodar, Chaliyar, Betwa, Noyyal, Bhawani, to name just a few. Mainly, groundwater, a major source of drinking water, is also becoming polluted and most of it is consumed without any treatment. The problem of water is a major issue in both urban and rural areas. Secondly, air pollution in Indian cities is also growing by leaps and bounds. Shockingly, air pollution in India has caused losses of up to Rs 7 lakh crore ($95 billion) annually. According to a new report released jointly by UK-based non-profit Clean Air Fund, management firm Dalberg Advisors and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
Shockingly, this is just 40 percent of the cost of tackling the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Additionally, about three percent of India’s gross domestic product (GDP), the statistics are probably blowing your mind.
Furthermore, this is the first major study that goes beyond the realms of the health impacts of air pollution. As well as quantify the financial losses faced by Indian businesses due to the perpetual lack of clean air.
The losses caused by air pollution manifest themselves in a variety of ways. Mainly, these include labor productivity, diminishing consumer footfall, premature mortality, lower asset productivity, and increased health expenses. Worryingly, air pollution affects business through three direct impact pathways: premature mortality, loss of productivity, and loss of consumer footfall.
Firstly, excessive soil erosion in India combined with a consequent high rate of sedimentation in reservoirs and decreased soil fertility has led to grave environmental problems. Additionally, soil erosion mostly affects practically all kinds of land, such as forest lands, agricultural lands, arid and semi-arid lands, surface mines, roads, construction sites, coastal areas. Further, since soil formation is a very slow process, the erosion of the upper layer of the soil leaves it barren for a long time, causing grave problems for the agricultural sector.
Greenhouse gas emissions
The most shocking indicator in India is the rate of greenhouse gas emissions. Shockingly, the emissions in India are the third-largest in the world. The main source is coal, which is widely used due to being extremely cheap. Significantly, India emits about 3 gigatonnes (Gt) CO2eq of greenhouse gases each year. This is made up of about two and a half tons per person, which is half the world average. And if that is enough, the country emits 7% of global emissions, which needs to be curbed in order to control the ecological imbalance in the ecosystem.
India is home to a diverse range of forests. Mainly, moist and dry tropical forests, temperate and subtropical montane forests, alpine forests, and scrub forests. Furthermore, it is one of the 17 “megadiverse” countries. Furthermore, India is home to 8% of the world’s known flora and fauna. In addition, Indian forests support the livelihood of nearly 275 million people, who are dependent on forests for food, fuelwood, fodder, and other forest products.
GFW( Global Forest Watch) data on primary forests (defined by GFW as areas of mature humid forests greater than 5 hectares without human clearing in recent records) extends back to the year 2001. And it shows that India has lost significant humid primary rainforest since the turn of the century — an estimated 334,000 hectares.
Impact of Environmental Issues
If we go through understanding the gravity of the situation regarding environmental issues and its impact on the ecosystem, we have to consider scientific studies to guide us. According to World Bank experts, data collection, and environmental assessment studies (1995-2010), India was one of the fastest progressing nations in the world. The good news is that India is addressing its environmental issues and improving its environmental quality. Furthermore, India finds itself in the ranks of those liberal nations that are increasingly in charge of solving the problems. Specifically, these problems are environmental degradation and climate change. However, environmental issues are one of the primary causes of disease, health issues, and long-term livelihood impacts on India.
Even though India’s post-independence rapid economic growth has lifted millions out of poverty, it is putting heavy pressure on ecosystems. Mainly, the increasing patterns of unsustainable consumption have impacted air pollution, water scarcity, and waste generation. In particular, these practices pose risks to human and environmental health. While unsafe sanitation, disposal of untreated wastewater, and the use of agrochemicals are responsible for a rise in water-borne diseases. Additionally, vehicular pollution, industrial emissions, and the burning of fossil fuels are majorly contributing to respiratory and lung diseases.
Recently, more than 50 percent of lung cancer patients in a Delhi hospital were found to be non-smokers. Worryingly, Mumbai has seen a spike in the outbreak of vector-borne and water-borne diseases. Mainly dengue, malaria, swine flu, leptospirosis, cholera, typhoid fever, and hepatitis A with each monsoon season.
“The science is clear. The health and prosperity of humanity is directly tied with the state of our environment.”
Acting Executive director of U.N. Environment, Joyce Msuya.
Mainly, for years now, humans have contaminated the very environment that sustains them. Surely, the broad concern for the environment can be so overwhelming that people don’t know what to do or where to start making a difference.
In particular, because the list of issues surrounding our environment goes on, there are three major ones that affect the majority. Specifically, they are global warming and climate change; water pollution and ocean acidification; and loss of biodiversity. These three issues need immediate attention and proactive action on our part to ensure the conservation of the only habitable planet which we call our home. And, focusing attention on these three major topics will have a ripple effect on a number of smaller environmental issues like the presence of inefficient recycling systems and food waste.
Global Warming and Climate Change in the Indian Environment
To combat the giant problem of climate change, we can implement effective solutions to these problems so that we can make a difference:
Firstly, invest in encouraging sustainability in all sectors of industry to encourage change. Secondly, the commercial buildings where we work and residential buildings where we live should implement change. Mainly, like the aim to be zero-waste to curb the level of emissions. Thirdly, there should be an improvement in waste compaction( smart technology to free up space ). Most importantly, increase forest cover and restore seagrass for the water ecosystem. These steps will help to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Additionally, we can also boost the use of agricultural cover crops to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Also read about Corporate Harm, Strategic Responsibility, and the Environment
Pollution in the Indian Environment
Particularly, water pollution poses a great threat to the aquatic ecosystem. Specifically, here are some measures which can help prevent water pollution and ocean acidification. There needs to be more effective handling of oil spills. As oil spills have gotten fairly common and harm the precious water ecosystem and its species. Another crucial solution that can be implemented to reduce soil erosion is to plant trees near water bodies. This practice can be adopted to curtail stormwater runoff which is responsible for soil erosion.
Most importantly, expand the network which monitors the acidity levels to provide researchers with crucial data. Additionally, this can also help shellfish farmers with long-term and real-time data regarding the pH level of the water. So, they can safely maintain and operate in water bodies without disrupting the ecological balance. Furthermore, we can also incorporate ocean acidification threats into coastal zone management. In each and every state, when such measures are in use, we can see real changes in how we can handle the problem of ocean acidification. Most importantly, there needs to be a significant increase in marine protection measures to really implement changes to the way things operate right now in the current environment.
Loss of Biodiversity in the Indian Environment
The loss of biodiversity is a major concern that has ripple effects. And to curb the increasing loss of biodiversity, the government can create and implement environmental laws. Especially those related to the conservation of biodiversity. Mainly, we need to stop destroying the natural habitats of species. Instead, invest in the restoration of those destroyed habitats to preserve nature and its species. On an individual level, we can practice sustainable living which is favorable to our health and the environment we live in. Most importantly, research innovative ways to preserve biodiversity and educate the population about it.
Mainly, awareness and adaption are two key steps towards conserving this boon called environment. Each one of us can and should do our bit to curb the effects of these environmental issues and ensure that our future generations have a healthy planet to live on.
There is a lot to do when it comes to rebuilding and protecting what’s left of natural resources and the biodiversity within our ecosystems. Mainly, we can conserve nature by protecting nature, by protecting vital resources. And it is also a way of living that works against the irresponsible practices of businesses and large corporations.
Individually, as an individual, we can practice the art of green living. Mainly, this takes away the power from those who have no interest in using their influence to promote the greater good of our world and choose to add to the problem instead. The more money we keep out of the pockets of big businesses that don’t care for the environment, the more we can do for the planet.
Environmental conservation comes in many forms and reminds us to be mindful of daily choices. No matter how busy your life may be, it remains fairly easy to make small, yet necessary, changes for the good of the Earth. If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we need to protect and conserve nature so we can live in harmony. And most importantly, we need to conserve planet Earth and its environment for future generations.