Indian economic policy had got a stinker from the United Nations, which described its land acquisition in Orissa and West Bengal for industrialization, bad for natural resources.
In its Asia Pacific Human Development Report, the United Nations Development Fund said without naming Nandigram in West Bengal and Posco project in Orissa that such choice of projects can lead to “degradation” of natural resources. Moreover, it does not provide the benefit of economic development to the poor, who get relocated.
Acquisition of land for Tata’s Nano project in Nandigram and Rs 54,000 crore Posco project in Jagatsinghpur district had created hue and cry over livelihood issues for the poor, whose land was being taken.
The report, which came less than two months before the Earth Summit Rio de Janeiro, Brazil urged India that it cannot continue to develop in “business as usual” scenario and needs to think differently.
“Use of new technologies is a key to grow in a sustainable manner,” said Anuradha Rajiram, lead author of the study. “The emerging economies need to look at new cleaner options”.
The report indicating at some the negative impacts of growth in emerging economies pointed out that India is among the top countries in Asia-pacific where inequality between rich and poor has widened. “It means that the poor are missing out of this rising prosperity which is not acceptable,” she said.
The UNDP report also tried to give a message that India and China were reluctant to invest in cleaner technologies despite higher income and better lifestyle for people in these countries.
Higher economic growth has, however, resulted in per capita household expenditure of Indians rising by 45 %, second to China in the region, the repor said, adding it was also more than double of average increase in global household expenditure.
To further put forth its point, the UNDP relied on National Sample Survey data to say that around 73 % of Indians in cities and 30 % in villages own a television set, which is among highest in the developing countries in Asia. The per capita ownership of cars in India was also higher, the data used in the report indicated.
“Percentage change in middle-class in asia pacific was highest,” the report said. Those earning between US $ 2 to US 4 20 a day between 1990 and 2008 have been defined as middle class, whose number increased from 21 % to 56 % in the region.
The report also made the point that those living in cities such as India and China were shielding themselves behind the villages, which were more vulnerable to climate change due to poor infrastructure facilities. “If India has to achieve 100 percent rural electrification by 2015, the yearly electrification rate needs to more than double, reaching 100 million households per year,” the report said.
The report also indicated that the governments were reluctant to take up green policies and the example demonstrated was Indian government’s opposition to eco-labelling of export footwear on the ground that it will increase production cost by one-third, the report said.