Environment Ministry’s draft State of the Environment report 2015 presents grim picture
The Environment ministry has released a draft of its State of the Environment 2015 report and invited comments from stakeholders till May 30.
One of the surprises thrown up by the draft report is from the section on air pollution where deaths from Particulate Matter (PM) and ozone pollution in India are documented.
The former environment minister for state, Anil Madhav Dave, who has also written an introductory note for the draft report, stirred controversy in recent months by suggesting that foreign reports on air pollution deaths should not be trusted.
The Environment ministry document quotes a 2014 Organisation for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) report saying that air pollution deaths from PM and ozone have risen from 6.2 lakhs in 2005 to more than 6.9 lakhs in 2010 in India.
The report also pulls together data from various other government and non-governmental organisations. The overall picture of the environmental health of the country is pretty grim.
10 key points highlighted by the report:
Over 96.40 million hectare (ha) of land (out of the total area of 328.7 million ha) is experiencing degradation
About a quarter of the total land (82.64 million ha) is undergoing desertification
India aims at having 33% of its land under forests, the figure stands at 21.34% currently.
The protected area network in India covers 5.07 %of its area
There has been an increase in the number of threatened species indicating biodiversity loss.
Loss to the Indian economy from water resource depletion is pegged at 6% by 2050 if the country continues to manage its water the same way.
One of the bright spots is the manifold rise in the contribution of renewables to India’s energy mix from 3.7% to 14.2 % over a 7-year period.
There were 3,260 highly polluting industrial units, as per most recent estimates, the report says, of which less than a third (929) have installed pollution abatement devices and even fewer (920) have real-time monitoring systems.
Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) contribute about 70% of the industrial pollution in the country.
It finds that levels of some of the most important air pollutants like Particulate Matter (PM), Sulphur Dioxide(SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO) and ozone “routinely exceed national standards, especially in urban areas.”
“Besides the immense public health impacts of environmental pollution, there is considerable evidence that environmental pollution is impacting human productivity and economic growth,” the report concludes.