Skip to main content

$5 trillion 'plan' to increase India's land, air, water pollution, solid, liquid, gaseous wastes

Counterview Desk
Well-known power policy analyst Shankar Sharma, based in Vijayanagar Sagara, Karnataka, in a representation to Reserve Bank of India governor Shaktikanta Das has taken strong objection to the latter’s recent statements (click HERE and HERE), where he wants to pursue a higher rate of growth as the “highest priority.”
Sharma says, “By the word 'growth', I assume it as the growth of GDP and in particular a high GDP growth rate”, adding, if that assumption is correct, any "larger push" without taking into account the environmental factor has major implications for the country’s future.

Text:

It is shocking that economists and high profile individuals seem to be pitching in for a very high GDP growth rate year after year, when we objectively consider the fact that India is already one of the large size economies. In the past it was Raghurama Rajan, C Rangarajan, chief economic advisors (CEAs), prime ministers (PMs) and finance ministers before your recent statement.
Recently there has also been a talk about making India a $5 trillion economy by 2024. It is embarrassing for me to state that it is both unfortunate and against the long term interest of our society that such targets for a large size economy and high GDP growth rate are being pursued by the concerned authorities without adequately considering the overall impact on our communities (especially the poor and vulnerable communities) because of the invariably associated problems of pollution/contamination of air, water and soil which are only inevitable because of frenetic economic activities needed to achieve such targets .
In this context it is worthy of drawing your attention to what is stated on the topic by some of the credible reports:
A. The draft 'National Resource Efficiency Policy' (NREP), 2019 by MoEF&CC says:
"Driven by rapid economic and population growth, the demand for natural resources, especially materials have grown manifold over the last few decades. In the endeavor for economic growth, natural resources have been largely indiscriminately exploited, adversely impacting the environment and biodiversity. Further, cross linkages between resource use, climate change, land degradation and biodiversity loss has been scientifically well established.
“Meeting the demand for products and services, of rising population with increased aspirations has led to mostly indiscriminate exploitation of natural resources and would further lead to increased pressure on resources resulting in environmental degradation, thereby raising sustainability concerns.”
It goes on to say:
"India, as one of the fastest growing economies with GDP at 2.6 trillion USD, has increased its material consumption to six times, from 1.18 billion tonnes in 1970 to 7 billion tonnes in 2015, however this economic growth has been coupled with inherent cost on natural environment.  The material consumption is projected to more than double by 2030, in order to provide for increasing population, rapid urbanization and growing aspirations.
“The projected pace of economic development is going to put pressure on already stressed and limited resources and may lead to serious resource depletion and environment degradation affecting the economy, livelihoods and the quality of life.Further, material use is also closely associated with the problem of increasing wastes, which when suitably processed could deliver valuable secondary resources.”

On the current status, the draft lists many concerns:
“High import dependency of many critical raw materials; 30% of land undergoing degradation: Highest water withdrawal globally for agriculture; 3rd highest CO2 emitter, responsible for 6.9% of global CO2 emissions; Much lower recycling rate at 20-25% vis-à-vis of as high as 70% in developed countries (Europe); Low material productivity compared to global average; 3 rd largest material demand (year 2010); Resource extraction of 1,580 tonnes/acre is much higher than the world average of 450 tonnes/acre .”
B. A World Bank report of June 5, 2013 has highlighted how the environment has suffered in India consequent to the past decade of rapid economic growth. The report with the title “Diagnostic Assessment of Select Environmental Challenges, Economic Growth and Environmental Sustainability: What Are the Trade-offs?”, has many revelations of critical importance to the future of our communities.
Among other things, it says: although the past decade of rapid economic growth has brought many benefits to India, the environment has suffered, exposing the population to serious air and water pollution. The report finds that environmental degradation costs India $80 billion per year or 5.7% of its economy.
A subsequent joint study by the World Bank and University of Washington released in 2016 has estimated that in 2013 the environmental degradation costs to India, including welfare costs and lost labour income due to air pollution, was of about 8.5 % of its economy.
These World Bank estimates may indicate that the net growth in our economy is probably negative when we take the environmental degradation and health costs into objective consideration.
In this context, how advisable is it to plan to double the size of our economy in the next 5 years, as the target of $5 trillion economy by 2014 should mean? The serious concerns to our communities will be multifarious from such a scenario.
The doubling of the economy in five years shall mean a CAGR of more than 10% for 5 years. Such a sustained high GDP growth rate will mean the manufacture of products and provision of services at an unprecedented pace leading to:
  • setting up of more factories/manufacturing facilities; 
  • consumption of large quantities of raw materials such as iron, steel, cement, chemicals etc.; 
  • increasing an unsustainable demand for natural resources such as land, water, sand, minerals, timber etc.; 
  • acute pressure on the Government to divert agricultural/forest lands; 
  • huge demand for various forms of energy (petroleum products, coal, electricity etc.); accelerated urban migration; 
  • clamor for more of airports, airlines, hotels, shopping malls, private vehicles, express highways etc. 
Vast increase in each of these activities, while increasing the total greenhouse gas (GHG, responsible for global warming) emissions, will also add up to reduce the overall ability of natural carbon sinks such as forests and soils to absorb GHG emissions. There will also be increased pollution of land, air and water along with huge issues of managing the solid, liquid and gaseous wastes.
If such a frenetic pace of growth in the economy leads to environmental degradation costs of more than 8.5% of GDP, and to the premature death of few million people (estimated to be about 1.2 million in 2017 ), how can the society be seen as the real beneficiary of such an economic policy?
And who will be the real beneficiaries of such an apparently unsustainable economic policy?
The advocates of such a high GDP growth rate paradigm claim that it is necessary to alleviate poverty in the country, which basically means creation of more jobs. If our natural resource base (forests, rivers, agricultural lands, minerals etc.) gets accelerated degradation, the employment opportunities in various sectors will have to come down sooner than later.
In this context, it is pertinent to know what Tamil Nadu State Action Plan on Climate Change (TNSAPCC) has said. It says: “Global development experience reveals that one percent growth in agriculture (and associated activities?) is at least two or three times more effective in reducing poverty than the type of same growth emanating from non-agricultural sector.”
The critical consideration in formulating our country’s economic policy should be the enormous impacts on our communities from the fast looming threats of climate change, for which India is projected to be a major victim.
World Bank indicates, net growth in our economy is probably negative when we take environmental degradation, health costs into objective consideration
Keeping in view the dire need to contain the total GHG emissions and the vastly increasing pollution loading, the relevance of a high GDP growth rate paradigm for the country needs to be effectively discussed at the societal level from the perspective of true welfare of every section of our society.
Are we rational enough to take a diligent view of all these and other associated issues in our development pathway as a truly welfare society?
Shall we not focus on those economic activities which will not lead to further diversion of forest/agricultural lands, which will not demand much of water and energy, which will not lead to pollution of land, air and water, and which will lead to sustainable harnessing of our natural resources?
Such activities may include sustainable agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry, forestry, health and educational services, IT&BT, eco & health tourism etc.
Can we hope that the tall claims by the government on the issue of Climate Change and on the much advertised campaign ‘sub ka saath, sub ka vikaas, sub ka vishwas’ will be matched by an effective action plan to minimize the pollution and contamination issues for our communities, by moving away from the high GDP growth rate paradigm urgently?
Can the people of this country expect satisfactory clarifications to all the issues raised herein at the earliest? 
 Without such clarifications people will continue to believe that the associated government policies are basically meant to benefit a tiny section of the society, who are wealthy and influential individuals and corporate entities, while exposing all other sections of our society to multiple disasters both in short term and long term.
A discussion paper (click HERE to read), highlighting various issue of concern to the common man in this regard, is attached for your perusal.
Since my communications in this context to different authorities such as CEA, finance minister, Niti Aayog, PMO etc. have not evoked any response, can I hope that the much needed clarifications will come from your office?
---
*Contacts: shankar.sharma2005@gmail.com, shankar.sharma2005@hotmail.com

Comments

TRENDING

North Gujarat gram panchayat bars villagers from dealing with Muslim hawkers, traders

By Our Representative  A gram panchayat in North Gujarat has barred its residents not to buy anything from Muslim traders and hawkers. An order of the Waghasan group gram panchayat of Tharad taluka of Banaskantha district dated June 30 states that the decision has been taken in the wake of beheading of a Hindu tailor after he posted a derogatory writeup on Prophet Mohammad in Udaipur. The gram panchayat resolution says, anyone seen buying or selling any commodity from a Muslim hawker or trader would be fined Rs 5,100. Bringing this to light, Mujahid Nafees, convener, Minority Coordination Committee, in a letter to Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel, says, the state government should take legal action against the panchayat chief who has signed the “unjust” order. The letter says, the act of the sarpanch and other signatories is a violation of rule of law of the state and threat to peace, pointing out, the move is in violation of Article 15 of the Constitution, which says that none

Technocratic globalism, tyranny? Health Ministry warned: bill to 'enslave' Indians

Sandeep Pandey, Tushar Gandhi By Rosamma Thomas*  Union of Concerned Citizens, a group comprising Magsaysay Award winner Prof Sandeep Pandey, human rights activist Tushar Gandhi, former judge of the Bombay High Court BG Kolse Patil, pediatrician Dr Jacob Puliyel and several renowned Indian citizens have written to the Union Health Minister cautioning him against tabling the draft Public Health Bill in the Monsoon Session of Parliament. “The Public Health (Prevention, Control And Management Of Epidemics, Bio-Terrorism And Disasters) Bill, 2017 and a Prospective Bill of 2022 as discussed in news articles, is straightforwardly violative of Fundamental Rights of the citizens of India and therefore, Ultra Vires of the Indian Constitution. It contravenes several International Treaties and Conventions including the Nuremberg Treaty of 1947 which was enacted to ensure that no country would repeat such inhuman medical atrocities on fellow human beings”, the 12-page letter reads. “Strangely, t

Unlike Soviet Union, Russia is no friend to India: Ukrainian scholar tells 'Indian friends'

Counterview Desk In an open letter to "dear Indian friends", Anastasia Piliavsky, born in Odessa, Ukraine, studied at Boston and Oxford Universities (on a Rhodes Scholarship), and now teaches at King’s College, London, has said that she faces "deep moral dilemma", personally and professionally, over the "astonishingly unified Indian response to the war in Ukraine." Based on her interaction with a "number of thoughtful and caring Indian friends", in this letter, she says, she is "reeling at the ubiquitous silence at, justifications of or outright support for Putin’s terror, which now prevails in India, at the ubiquitous #IStandWithPutin and #istandwithrussia hashtags." She insists, India must understand, "Unlike the Soviet Union, Russia is no friend to India. Soviet leaders, beginning with (the Ukrainian) Nikita Khrushchev – who declared hindi rusi bhai bhai – built up deep political and cultural exchange with India." Text : I

'Drop all falsed charges': 150 citizens demand early release of AltNews co-founder

Counterview Desk  About 150 concerned citizens have demanded the release of Mohammed Zubair, co-founder of the fact-checkng newsportal AltNews, arrested over a 2018 tweet which allegedly hurt religious sentiments, even as booking for criminal conspiracy and having received foreign funds in violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA). Denied bail last weekend and sent to 14-day judicial custody, the concerned citizens, in a statement, regretted that while the Delhi High Court issued notice to the Delhi police on a petition filed on behalf of Zubair challenging the legality and propriety of his police remand and the seizure of his electronic devices, the “frivolous case” continues. Excerpts: The illegal arrest of Mr. Mohammed Zubair happened on June 27, 2022, by the Delhi Police for allegedly hurting religious sentiments and promoting enmity over a tweet from 2018. The IPC Sections included 153(a) (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race,

Chennai residents 'suffering': Faulty design, implementation of storm water project

By NS Venkataraman*  The Greater Chennai Corporation is now implementing storm water drainage project in 559 roads, covering a distance of 1033 kilometres, which cost around Rs 4,070 crore. For this massive project, which is targeted to be completed between April and September this year, huge loan has been availed from World Bank, Asian Development Bank and others. Several technocrats have pointed out that the project has been designed with outdated technology and quality of the implementation is so poor that the residents have been put to great hardships. As part of the project, digging of the road has been done to around 5 to 6 feet deep and width of around 4 to 5 feet. The drains are being constructed using steel reinforced cement concrete with two walls on either side with provisions for manhole, chute etc. This has been done in front of several houses leaving little space between the gate of the house and that of the drainage structure. As the work has been going on for mor

Prime Minister's 'affordable' housing policy fails to help Gujarat slum dwellers: Study

By Rajiv Shah  A new study on the implementation of one of the major policy initiatives for the urban poor by the Narendra Modi government after it came to power, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), has said that in Gujarat, which happens to be the Prime Minister’s home state, has quoted state officials as “confirming” that no progress towards tenure regularization, a key requirement for providing housing to the state’s slum dwellers. Stating that this particularly true of smaller town, the study, carried out by the non-profit Homes in the City (HIC), which is based in Bhuj, district headquarter of Kutch that saw a devastating earthquake in 2001, says, the failure to provide affordable housing is there despite the fact that there has been “significant demand” in all the 83 out of 153 Gujarat municipalities studied by experts involved in the study. According to the study, out f a total of 1.41 lakh demands for housing under the Beneficiary Led Construction (BLC) category, 94,232 (66.7%)

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

'Contractor-official nexus led to RTI activist's murder': Fact-finding team seeks probe

Courtyard inside of PWD office where Ranjeet Soni was killed Counterview Desk  A fact-finding team* visited Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh (MP) on June 19, 2022 to meet with the family of Ranjeet Soni, who was shot dead on June 2, 2022 inside the premises of the PWD office in Vidisha. The objective was to gather information about the circumstances surrounding the death of Ranjeet Soni and his work on exposing corruption through the use of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. A report prepared by the team members says that Ranjeet had been extensively using the RTI Act to access information from the government, and upon receiving documents showing misuse of public funds or corruption, he was filing complaints to various authorities including the Lokyukta, Publi Works Department (PWD) and the Chief Minister’s Office. It notes, Ranjeet used to work as a contractor and often undertook government works in collaboration with other contractors, including those being investigated for his murder. A f

Electricity Bill: Centre's reform measures contain 'carrot and stick package' for states

Counterview Desk  The Peoples’ Commission on Public Sector and Public Services (PCPSPS), claiming to be a network of eminent academics, jurists, erstwhile administrators, trade unionists and social activists, seeking consultations with stakeholders with those who are against the government’s decision to monetise, disinvest and privatise public assets/enterprises, has said that the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill-2022 will have far-reaching impacts on the finances of states. Insisting that the proposed Bill would lead to “assault on India’s federal structure”, in a statement, it says, it would weaken the finances of states’ power distribution companies, have adverse impact on utility employees, cripple the states' finances, impose a heavy cost burden on the smaller subsidized consumers (especially farmers), and benefit only corporate business houses. “States cannot afford to ignore the far-reaching implications of the Bill on their economy, finances, agricultural and industria

'Highly abnormal': AltNews journo's arrest suggests 'deterioration in media freedom'

By Bharat Dogra*  Leading media organizations have come out in strong support of recently arrested journalist Mohammed Zubair. These organizations include, among others, the Editors Guild of India, the Press Club of India, the Delhi Union of Journalists and DIGIPUB, a platform for several important digital media organizations. All these organizations have condemned the recent arrest of the noted journalist and demanded his immediate release. While leading human rights organizations and political parties have also made somewhat similar statements, the strong support of media organizations is particularly important as the effort of the authorities has been to try to present the arrested journalist as someone who has been indulging in irresponsible journalism.  In such a situation the support of those media organizations who are familiar with his work and who are most capable of judging the quality of his work is very important. In this context it is important that some media organization