The rapid growing population and economic development are leading to the environmental degradation in India because of the uncontrolled growth of urbanization and industrialization, expansion and massive intensification of agriculture, and the destruction of forests.
Major environmental issues are Forest and Agricultural land degradation, Resource depletion (water, mineral, forest, sand, rocks etc.,), Environmental degradation, Public Health, Loss of Biodiversity,Loss of resilience in ecosystems, Livelihood Security for the Poor.
It is estimated that the country’s population will increase to about 1.26 billion by the year 2016. The projected population indicates that India will be the first most populous country in the world and China will be ranking second in the year 2050. India having 18% of the world's population on 2.4% of world's total area has greatly increased the pressure on its natural resources. Water shortages, soil exhaustion and erosion, deforestation, air and water pollution afflicts many areas.
India's water supply and sanitation issues are related to many environmental issues.
Major issuesOne of the primary causes of environmental degradation in a country could be attributed to rapid growth of population, which adversely affects the natural resources and environment. The uprising population and the environmental deterioration face the challenge of sustainable development. The existence or the absence of favorable natural resources can facilitate or retard the process of socio-economic development. The three basic demographic factors of births (natality),deaths (mortality) and human migration (migration) and immigration (population moving into a country produces higher population) produce changes in population size, composition, distribution and these changes raise a number of important questions of cause and effect.
Population growth and economic development are contributing to many serious environmental calamities in India. These include heavy pressure on land,land degradation, forests, habitat destruction and loss of biodiversity. Changing consumption pattern has led to rising demand for energy. The final outcomes of this are air pollution, global warming, climate change, water scarcity and water pollution.
Environmental issues in India include various natural hazards, particularly cyclones and annual monsoon floods, population growth, increasing individual consumption, industrialization, infrastructural development, poor agricultural practices, and resource maldistribution have led to substantial human transformation of India’s natural environment. An estimated 60% of cultivated land suffers from soil erosion, waterlogging, and salinity. It is also estimated that between 4.7 and 12 billion tons of topsoil are lost annually from soil erosion. From 1947 to 2002, average annual per capita water availability declined by almost 70% to 1,822 cubic meters, and overexploitation of groundwater is problematic in the states of Haryana, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh. Forest area covers 18.34% of India’s geographic area (637000 km²). Nearly half of the country’s forest cover is found in the state of Madhya Pradesh (20.7%) and the seven states of the northeast (25.7%); the latter is experiencing net forest loss. Forest cover is declining because of harvesting for fuel wood and the expansion of agricultural land. These trends, combined with increasing industrial and motor vehicle pollution output, have led to atmospheric temperature increases, shifting precipitation patterns, and declining intervals of drought recurrence in many areas.
The Indian Agricultural Research Institute of Parvati has estimated that a 3 °C rise in temperature will result in a 15 to 20% loss in annual wheat yields. These are substantial problems for a nation with such a large population depending on the productivity of primary resources and whose economic growth relies heavily on industrial growth. Civil conflicts involving natural resources—most notably forests and arable land—have occurred in eastern and northeastern states.
After all these major challenges the Indian government is not implementing the strict laws against increasing population and protecting the environment.
Water pollutionOut of India's 3,119 towns and cities, just 209 have partial treatment facilities, and only 8 have full wastewater treatment facilities (WHO 1992). 114 cities dump untreated sewage and partially cremated bodies directly into the Ganges River. Downstream, the untreated water is used for drinking, bathing, and washing. This situation is typical of many rivers in India as well as other developing countries.
Open defecation is widespread even in urban areas of India
Water resources have not therefore been linked to either domestic or international violent conflict as was previously anticipated by some observers. Possible exceptions include some communal violence related to distribution of water from the Kaveri River and political tensions surrounding actual and potential population displacements by dam projects, particularly on the Narmada River.
To know why 1,000 Indian children die of diarrhoeal sickness every day, take a wary stroll along the Ganges in Varanasi. As it enters the city, Hinduism’s sacred river contains 60,000 faecal coliform bacteria per 100 millilitres, 120 times more than is considered safe for bathing. Four miles downstream, with inputs from 24 gushing sewers and 60,000 pilgrim-bathers, the concentration is 3,000 times over the safety limit. In places, the Ganges becomes black and septic. Corpses, of semi-cremated adults or enshrouded babies, drift slowly by.More than 400 million people live along the Ganges River. An estimated 2,000,000 persons ritually bathe daily in the river, which is considered holy by Hindus. In the Hindu religion it is said to flow from the lotus feet of Vishnu (for Vaisnava devotees) or the hair of Shiva (for Saivites). The spiritual and religious significance could be compared to what the Nile river meant to the ancient Egyptians. While the Ganges may be considered holy, there are some problems associated with the ecology. It is filled with chemical wastes, sewage and even the remains of human and animal corpses which carry major health risks by either direct bathing in the water (e.g.: Bilharziasis infection), or by drinking (the Fecal-oral
– The Economist on December 11, 2008
YamunaNewsWeek describes Delhi's sacred Yamuna River as "a putrid ribbon of black sludge" where fecal bacteria is 10,000 over safety limits despite a 15-year program to address the problem. Cholera epidemics are not unknown.
Air pollutionIndian cities are polluted by vehicles and industry emissions. Road dust due to vehicles also contributing up to 33% of air pollution In cities like Bangalore, around 50% of children suffer from asthma. India has emission standard of Bharat Stage II (Euro II) for vehicles since 2005.
One of the biggest causes of air pollution in India is from the transport system. Hundreds of millions of old diesel engines continuously burning away diesel which has anything between 150 to 190 the amount of sulphur out European diesel has. Of course the biggest problems are in the big cities where there are huge concentrations of these vehicles. On the positive side, the government appears to have noticed this massive problem and the associated health risks for its people and is slowly but surely taking steps. The first of which was in 2001 when it ruled that its entire public transport system, excluding the trains, be converted from diesel to compressed gas (CPG). Electric rickshaws are being designed and will be subsidised by the government but the supposed ban on the cycle rikshaws in Delhi will require a huge increase on the reliance of other methods of transport, mainly those with engines.
Another major cause of Air pollution is due to cremations in India. In India 78% of the population consign the dead bodies to fire for cremation as a ritual in open air. Traditionally they have been using butter ghee and a few herbs while the body is confined to fire. These are required since the wood-fire temperature does not go beyond 300 C or 600 F but when the butter ghee is added the temperature obtained is up to 700 C or 1400 F, which has been proved now scientifically to be optimum temperature required for cremation of a human body. Just as the low temperature creates pollution, higher temperature is also found to create pollution with emissions dangerously harmful for the environment.
By consigning the corpse to fire, these pollutions' risks are reduced and if, in that fire some Ghee and Havan Samagri is added, the practice and experiments have established that there is less of environmental pollution and emission of foul smell because of their disinfecting properties. By adding ghee to the fire, the rise in temperature of the flames results in total destruction of those germs and worms.
Paryavaran Sanrakshan Nyas- a non-government voluantary organisation of Chandigarh (India), chose to undertake this task which had escaped the attention of the people in the urbanised cities. In rural areas in villages even today, they use lot of ghee, herbs and cow dung (which is a strong anti-pollution agent when burnt) to arrest this pollution. Besides, the Cremation Grounds in the villages are placed at far-isolated areas, away from the populated localities. In cities, the situation is different. The Cremation Grounds are mostly located in and around the habitated areas affecting seriously the living population.(Pollution through Cremation by Savita Sethi published by Paryavaran Sanrakshan Nyas 2005)
Aware of all these factors and the problem, the four women- M/s. Savita Sethi, Sudesh Gupta, Prem Lata Duggal and Usha Ghai of Chandigarh thought of the issue and decided to fight out this un-noticed pollution being caused in the 'City Beautiful' and create awareness amongst the residents. To carry out the mission they decided to form a Trust and elicit support and co-operation from elite and awakened members of the society. Subsequently a Trust under the name of Paryavaran Sanrakshan Nyas was got registered at Chandigarh with nine Trustees of the Nyas. (Pollution through Cremation by Savita Sethi published by Paryavaran Sanrakshan Nyas 2005)
The Trust believed that besides contributing to this noble social cause of pollution control, a respectful and appropriate adieu could be also given, to the departed soul of those unprivileged people who are not able to bear this bare minimum for the last rites of their beloved ones. The Trustees decided that on every cremation the Trust shall contribute one kg. of pure Ghee and five kgs. of Havan Samagri ( a mixture of organic herbs having ingredients which have anti-pollutant, disinfectant, aromatic, nourishing and nutritive qualities)- a voluntary contribution of 5 kgs. of Havan Samagri mixed in 1 kg. of Desi Ghee on every cremation of any caste, creed or faith at the Chandigarh Crematorium and thus save the City from such threatened possible pollution.
It also appeared that the excessive pollution was having an adverse effect on the Taj Mahal. After a court ruling all transport in the area was shut down shortly followed by the closure of all industrial factories in the area. The air pollution in the big cities is rising to such an extent that it is now 2.3 higher than the amount recommended by WHO (world health organization). (Pollution through Cremation by Savita Sethi published by Paryavaran Sanrakshan Nyas 2005)
Recently Government of India has set up norms of permissible noise levels in urban and rural areas.. How they will be monitored and implemented is still not sure.
Land pollutionLand pollution in India is due to pesticides and fertilizers as well as corrosion
ConservationIndia, lying within the Indomalaya ecozone, hosts significant biodiversity; it is home to 7.6% of all mammalian, 12.6% of avian, 6.2% of reptilian, and 6.0% of flowering plant species.
In recent decades, human encroachment has posed a threat to India's wildlife; in response, the system of national parks and protected areas, first established in 1935, was substantially expanded. In 1972, India enacted the Wildlife Protection Act and Project Tiger to safeguard crucial habitat; further federal protections were promulgated in the 1980s. Along with over 500 wildlife sanctuaries, India now hosts 14 biosphere reserves, four of which are part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves; 25 wetlands are registered under the Ramsar Convention. aparna