India's growth towards economic prosperity has put its environment in stress, the State of Environment Reports from 32 states indicate.
Completed after five years by four organisations with the help of state governments under the aegis of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the reports, for the first time, provide a valuable database on the level of degradation and areas of concern at the micro level. The reports and future action for strengthening data collection at the ground level was discussed at a workshop here on Wednesday.
The growing human population, industrial growth and natural calamities have been cited as major reasons for the environmental degradation in most reports. The exotic backwaters of Kerala have undergone degradation due to the tremendous growth of tourism. Similarly, in Himachal Pradesh, the picturesque Manali and Shimla have witnessed ecological losses because of the pressure of tourists during peak seasons.
However, in states such as Chhattisgarh and Jammu and Kashmir, law and order problems have been identified as a major hurdle to protecting and conserving biodiversity and wildlife. For example. no tiger census could be conducted in the Indravati tiger reserve in Chhattigarh as it is under the control of Naxals, state government officials said.
Experts at the workshop said there is a need for micro-level mapping of the losses and formulation of remedial policies. Most officials also agreed that the environment is secondary to development for most policy formulators and its impact can be seen in the reports.
SP Sharma, advisor in the ministry, said, “We want data collection to be brought down to the lowest level in the 11th Plan.” The ministry had allocated Rs. 6 crore for preparing these reports in the 10th Plan period but joint secretary Sudhir Mittal said the state governments will have to come forward in a big way in the 11th Plan to implement the second phase of the project.