"Our cities are the dirtiest of the world. If there is a Nobel Prize for dirt and filth, India will win it,” Environment and Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh said on Friday.
Ramesh was speaking during the release of a report, which said that 800,000 people died in India every year because of environmental factors.
Things could improve, the minister said, once Parliament approved the National Green Tribunal Bill in the winter session.
The report, prepared by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), dwells on what India will look like in 2047, 100 years after Independence.
Finance Commission Chairman Vijay Kelkar suggested a way of building environment assets for the nation — selling half of the country’s public sector undertakings to raise Rs 90,000 crore.
“The private sector has (made unnecessary) many PSUs now,” he said.
The report estimates the 8 lakh people die because of pollution of air, water and land, and the cost of such deaths is Rs 2,00,000 crore (Rs 2,000 billion).
The cost of environment degradation is 4 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), which in 2009-10 is Rs 46,00,000 crore ($1 trillion). GDP is the value of goods and services produced in a country in a year.
R.K. Pachauri, head of TERI, warned that if India failed to act soon to protect its environment, its economic growth would be impeded. “State governments will have to allocate more resources for environment protection,” Kelkar said.