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Essay, Paragraph or Speech on “Environmental Problems in India” Complete Essay, Speech for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Environmental Problems in India

A Committee’ was set up in January 1980, for reviewing Committee’ -existing legislative measures and administrative machinery for ensuring environmental protection and for recommending ways to strengthen them. On the recommendation of this high-powered Committee, the Department of Environment was set up in 1980. Subsequently in 1985, it was upgraded to a full-fledged Ministry of Environment and Forests to serve as the focal point in the administrative structure for the planning, promotion and coordination of environmental and forestry programmes.

Environmental problems in India can be classified into two broad categories: (a) those arising as negative effects of the very process of development; and (b) those arising from conditions of poverty and under-development. The first category has to do with the impact of effort to achieve rapid economic growth and development. Poorly planned developmental projects are usually environmentally destructive. The second category has to do with the impact on the health and integrity of our natural resources such as land, soil, water, forests, wildlife, space etc. as a result of poverty.

Protection of Environment: There are about 30 major enactments related to protection of environment now being administered by the Central and State governments. Prominent among these are: The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972; the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980; The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974; The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981; The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977; The Environment Protection Act, 1986; The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991; The Motor Vehicles Act, 1938; as amended in 1988; the Factories Act and the Insecticides Act. These are implemented through several organisations like Central and State pollution control boards, chief inspectors of factories and insecticides inspectors of agriculture departments, etc.

The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, brought into force from 19 November 1986 is landmark legislation as it provides for the protection of environment and aims at plugging the loopholes in the other related Acts. The salient features of this Act are as follows:

(a) conferring powers on the Central Government to:

(i) take all necessary measures for protecting quality of environment: (ii) coordinate activities of States. officers and other authorities under this Act or under any other law related to the objects of this Act; (iii) plan and execute a nationwide programme for prevention, control and abatement of environmental pollution; (iv) lay down standard for discharge of environmental pollutants; (v) empower any person to enter, inspect, take samples and test; (vi) establish or recognise environmental laboratories; (vii) appoint or recognise analysts: (viii) lay down standards for quality of environment; (ix) restrict areas in which industries, operations or processes may not be carried out or shall be carried out subject to certain safeguards; (x) lay down safeguards for prevention of accidents and take remedial measures in case of such accidents; (xi) lay down procedures and safeguards for handling hazardous substances; (xii) constitute an authority or authorities for exercising powers: (xiii) issue directions to any person, officer or authority including the power to direct closure, prohibition or regulation of any industry, operation or process or stoppage or regulations of supply of electricity. water or any other services: (xiv) require any person, officer, State government or authority to furnish any prescribed information; and (xv) (a) delegate powers to any of a State or authority;

(b) it confers powers on persons to complain to courts regarding any violation of the provisions of the Act, after a notice of 60 days to prescribed authorities;

(c) the Act makes it obligatory for the person in charge of a place to inform- -the prescribed authorities regarding any accidental discharge or apprehended discharge of any pollutant in excess of prescribed standards. Authorities on receipt ofsuch information or otherwise shall take remedial measures to prevent or mitigate pollution caused by such accidents and expenses incurred by the authorities in respect of remedial measures are recoverable with interest from the polluter,

(d) it prescribes stringent penalties for violation of the provisions of the Act. No distinction is shown between government departments and other companies and (e) jurisdiction of civil courts is barred under the Act.

Government has taken several steps to provide adequate legal and institutional basis for implementation of the Act. These include issue of rules, notification of standards, action regarding environmental laboratories, strengthening of State departments of environment and pollution control boards, delegation of powers, identification of agencies for carrying out various activities for hazardous chemical management and setting up of environment protection councils in the States. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 have been made more stringent. Steps have been taken to:

  • Prevent pollution at source:
  • Encourage, develop and apply the best available practicable and technical solutions;
  • Ensure that the polluter pays for the pollution and control arrangements;
  • Focus protection on heavily polluted areas and river stretches and
  • Involve the public in decision-making.

Prevention and Control of Pollution: The Ministry of Environment and Forest has announced a Policy Statement for Abatement of Pollution in February 1992 according to which the key elements for pollution prevention are adoption of best available clean and practicable technologies rather than end of the pipe treatment. The focus is on source reduction and substitution of chemicals with safe alternatives. The thrust has therefore, been made for considering process changes which involve significant improvements in energy and water conservation. To follow up on the various issues covered in the policy statement for abatement of pollution, the National Conservation Strategy and the Forest Policy Statement. Several new programmes and studies have been initiated and commissioned. An Environment Action Programme has been formulated covering wide ambit of subjects such as clean technologies, improvement of water quality, institutional and human resource development, forestry and natural resource accounting.

To integrate natural resource into accounting the environmental data have been initiated. It is proposed to produce a computerised map of the critically polluted areas through digitisation, on a format based on Geographic Information System, which will provide thematic information on pollution status particularly for air, water and land. A notification making environmental audit mandatory has been issued which requires all industries applying for environmental clearance to submit an annual environmental audit report to the concerned State pollution control board. Indian Companies Act, 1956 is proposed to be amended to include an Environment Statement in the annual report of companies.

An “Eco-Mark” label has been introduced to label consumer products that are environment friendly. Sixteen products have been identified for labelling and standards for soaps and detergents. paper and paints have been notified for awarding this label. The procedure for granting consent to small scale industries has been simplified. A new format for the consent application and for authorisation required under the Environment (Protection) Act. 1986 has been developed and notified.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is the national apex body for assessment, monitoring and control on water and air pollution. The executive responsibilities for enforcernents of the Acts for Prevention and Control of Pollution of Water (1974) and Air (1981) and also of the Water (Cess) Act, 1977 are carried out through the Board. Twenty-three States and Union Territories have already adopted the Act and respective state pollution control boards have been constituted. These States are Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Goa, Gujarat. Harayna, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Delhi and Pondicherry. Arunachal Pradesh has adopted the Act but is yet to constitute the board. Enactment of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, has further extended the scope of the activities of the Board. Under the E (P) Act, 1986, effluent and emission standard in respect of 55 specific industries have been notified. So far, 84 laboratories have been recognized as environmental laboratories. Minimum National Standards (MINAS) for effluents and emissions from specific industries have been formulated and control measures are being implemented in a phased manner.

Seventeen categories of heavily polluting industries have been identified, namely cement, thermal power plants, distilleries, sugar, fertiliser, integrated iron and steel, oil refineries, pulp and paper, petrochemicals, pesticides, tanneries, basic drugs and pharmaceuticals, dye and dye intermediates, caustic soda, zinc smelter, copper smelter and aluminium smelter. Action is taken against the defaulting units in these categories on priority. On the basis of the designated best use of criteria CPCB has identified 13 grossly polluted stretches of Sabarmati, Subernarekha, Godavari, Krishna, Indus (tributaries), Sutlej, Ganga (tributaries), Yamuna, Hindon, Chambal, Damodar, Gomti and Kali river to formulate short-term result-oriented programmes. The Ministry, in consultation with State governments, has identified 19 critically polluted areas in the country. Which need special attention for control of pollution. These are Vapi (Gujarat), Singrauli (UP), Korba (Madhya Pradesh), Digboi (Assam), Talcher (Orissa). Bhadravati (Karnataka), Howrah (West Bengal), Dhanbad (Jharkhand). Pali (Rajasthan); Menali (Tamil Nadu): Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh), Chembur (Maharashtra), Najafgarh (Delhi): Gobindgarh (Punjab) and Udyog Mandel (Kerala). The progress in abatement of pollution in these areas is being reviewed.

Central Ganga Authority: The Central Ganga Authority (CGA) was set up in 1985 to oversee the implementation of the Action Plan drawn up for cleaning polluted stretches of the Ganga. A Steering Committee has identified different schemes to be taken up in Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Bihar and West Bengal through which the river runs. A Committee has been set up to monitor the progress of the scheme and their impact on the river quality.

The Action Plan proposes to direct the sewage flowing into the river to other locations for treatment and conversion into a valuable energy source. Schemes identified for this purpose include: renovation of existing trunk rivers and outfalls to prevent overflow of sewage into the Ganga, construction of interceptions to divert the flow of sewage and other liquid wastes into the river and renovation and construction of pumping stations and sewage treatment plants to recover maximum possible resources. Smaller schemes such as destruction of community toilets, conversion of dry toilets to flush toilets construction of electric crematoria, development system, have also been taken up to reduce domestic waste load on the Ganga.

To reduce industrial pollution load. on the river, of the 68 gross industrial polluters identified, 43 units have installed effluent treatment plants (ETPs) and in seven units these are under installation. Ten units have been closed down, and action has been initiated against the remaining eight. Existing systems of water abstraction and utilisation are under review and measures to augment flow at critical points are being identified. Of the 261 schemes sanctioned for execution, 195 have been completed and the remaining are at various stages of implementation.

Quality of the river water is being monitored in collaboration with the Central Water Commission and the Central and State pollution control boards. Leading national laboratories, institutes and universities have been associated with different aspects of water quality, monitoring and study of physio-chemical characteristics of the river. A macro-level model for river quality has been developed and verified for the stretch of the river between Rishikesh and Patna. It will be used for simulating water quality data. At micro-level, sampling and analysis of water quality is being carried out at 27 identified locations. Public participation is sought to be achieved by involving non-governmental organisations. Under the National River Action Plan some of the major rivers of the country are proposed to be taken wild Make them pollution free. Under the second phase of the Ganga Action Plan, a scheme of pollution abatement of Yamuna and Gomti rivers has been formulated at an estimated cost of Rs. 421 crore.

Environmental Impact Assessment The objective of all development is to add to the economic well-being of the people so that their standard of living can be improved. Development projects are, therefore, taken up to convert the natural resources into goods and services. It is imperative to incorporate environmental aspects into the development project right at the inception stage to prevent the erosion of the resources base itself. Impact assessment is a handy tool to assess the environmental compatibility of the projects in terms of their location, suitability of technology, efficiency in resource utilisation and recycling, etc. Impact assessment was introduced in 1978 and now covers almost all major projects.

At present, environmental impact assessment is being done for the following types of projects:

(a) (i) river valley; (ii) thermal power; (iii) mining; (iv) industries; (v) atomic power; (vi) rail, road, highways, bridges; (vii) ports and harbours; (viii) airport; (ix) new towns and (x) communication projects;

(b) Projects, which require approval of the Public Investment Board/Planning Commission/Central Electricity Authority;

(c) Projects referred to the Ministry of Environment and Forests by other ministries; (d) projects which are sensitive and located in environmentally degraded areas and (e) public sector undertaking of the Centre where the project cost is more than Rs. 20 crore.

Ln accordance with the recently promulgated coastal zone regulations, all the seven coastal States are required to prepare coastal management plans which inter alia would provide protection to ecological diversity and land use zoning.

The preliminary scrutiny of the project is done by the respective technical divisions and the overall appraisal of the project is undertaken by a specially constituted environmental appraisal committee of experts. In addition, special groups/ committees and task forces are constituted as and when needed for expert inputs on major projects. After detailed scrutiny and assessment, the appraisal committee makes its recommendations for approval or rejection of the projects. Depending on the nature of the projects, certain safeguards are recommended. For monitoring and timely implementation of safeguards suggested, six regional centres have been set up by the Ministry at Shillong, Bhubaneswar, Chandigarh, Bengaluru, Lucknow and Bhopal.

Under the Forests (Conservation) Act, 1980, diversion of forest land for non-forest purpose requires prior approval from the Central Government. While proposals involving forest land less than 20 hectares can be decided by the state forest departments. Proposals involving more than that are appraised by the Advisory Committee of the Ministry constituted under the Forests (Conservation) Act. 1980 as amended in 1988.

When a project requires both environmental and forest clearance, the proposals are simultaneously processed under the Single Window Clearance & home. All cases with complete environmental data and action plans are decided within three months. In the case of diversion of forest land, the decision is taken within six months.

Action for Controlling Pollution Sector-wise:

Environmental problems in India can be classified into two broad categories:

(a) Those arising as negative effects of the very process of development and

(b) Those arising from conditions of poverty and underdevelopment. The first category has to do with the impact of efforts to achieve rapid economic growth and development. Poorly planned developmental projects are usually environmentally destructive. The second category has to do with the impact on the health and integrity of our natural resources such as land, soil water forests, wildlife, space, etc. as a result of poverty.

River Valley Projects:

Major environmental impacts of river valley projects which need consideration are:

  • Degradation of catchment area;
  • Command area development;
  • Rehabilitation of those affected;
  • Increased incidence of water-borne diseases;
  • Reservoir induced seismicity; and
  • Deforestation and loss of flora and fauna including gene pool reserves.

Mining Projects:

Major environmental impacts of mining operations are:

  • degradation of land;
  • pollution of air;
  • deforestation including loss of flora and fauna;
  • rehabilitation of affected population including tribals:
  • Impact on- historical monuments and religious places. A major component of the mining operation in India is the opencast mining which severely affects land use pattern. Mining Operations have serious adverse impact on the growth of vegetation and general landscape. Mineral extracted interact with surface and ground water, thus polluting the water resources. Loss of top-soil due to deforestation also depletes ground water resources and results in drying up of perennial sources like springs and streams especially in hill areas.

Thermal Power Projects:

Major environmental impacts of thermal power projects include:

(a) Air pollution;

(b) Water pollution;

(c) Deforestation:

(d) Rehabilitation and

(e) Land degradation.

Fuel gases emerging from stocks containing Sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, etc. are detrimental to human beings and vegetation. Water pollution from thermal stations can be due to release of slurry which is a mixture of fly ash and water. Thermal pollution is due to release of cooling water which can affect aquatic life. Solution to disposal of ash problem is in its recycling by converting it into building blocks and its use in other construction works. Another step which helps in abating pollution caused by ash is stabilization of ash dumps through suitable vegetation.

Industrial Projects:

Major environmental impact of industrial projects include:

  • Air pollution;
  • Water pollution and
  • Disposal and utilisation of solid waste. Impacts of projects in specific areas are examined in great detail and suitable control measures suggested. Linkages of project requirements to utilisation of resources in optimal way is an essential prerequisite. Concept of recycling, reuse and adoption of clean technologies is increasingly becoming predominant.

Transportation Sector. Projects considered under the transport sector include laying of railway lines, roads and bridge construction, airport construction and establishing of ports and harbours.

The environmental parameters affected by the transport projects have been classified into:

  • Human/ economic development resources; and
  • Quality of life values including aesthetic and cultural values. Adverse impacts of above environmental parameters are to be identified and mitigation measures provided to offset such impacts.

Coastal Area Management. To protect cultural, aesthetic and ecological value of the coastal areas, a directive has been issued to coastal states by the Government banning construction activities within 500 metres of high-tide lines. A notification under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, declaring the coastal stretches as coastal regulation zone (CRZ) and imposing graded restrictions on industrial operations and processes in these zones has also been issued. State governments and Union Territories surrounded by coastal belts have been directed to prepare coastal zone management plans. On the basis of a representation from hotel industries and the Department of Tourism an expert committee has been constituted to examine the issues relating to tourism and hotel facilities in the coastal areas.

Nuclear Power Projects: In nuclear power plants, safety from radiation during the operation of the plant and water, and disposal of nuclear wastes, are of prime concern.

Major environmental impacts of nuclear power projects which need consideration are:

  • radioactive contamination of air, water and soil;
  • thermal pollution due to discharge of cooling water;
  • deforestation and loss of flora and fauna;
  • rehabilitation; and
  • radioactive waste disposal. Exposure to radioactive radiations in excess of the prescribed limits are detrimental to human beings, aquatic life, flora and fauna. The long half-life period for radioactive decay necessitates sealing of the reactor vessel and components for a dormant period of about 30 years after decommissioning of the plant.

Eco-Regeneration and Development: Eco-task forces of ex-servicemen have been deployed for undertaking eco-restoration work through afforestation and soil conservation measures in selected highly degraded and inhospitable areas of the country. Major field demonstration projects for integrated eco-development have been undertaken in Pushkar Valley, Ajmer. Binasar, Ranikhet, Marathwada, Coimbatore and in Purulia, West Bengal.

Govind Ballabh Pant Institute for Himalayan Environment and Development has been set up at Almora (UP) with its units at Srinagar (Garhwal), Gangtok (Sikkim) and Nagaland. Another unit has been set up at Kullu (Himachal Pradesh). The main task of the institute is to undertake in-depth research and development studies on environment problems of Himalayan region and Shivalik ranges and to demonstrate suitable technology packages for restoration of degraded eco-system.

National Conservation Strategy: A national conservation strategy and policy statement on environment and development covering various aspects of environmental concern and action plans had been adopted by the Government of India in June 1992. This is being followed with necessary changes wherever required.

Biosphere Reserves: Biosphere reserves are multi-purpose protected areas to preserve the genetic diversity in representative eco-system.

The major objectives of biosphere reserves are:

  • to conserve diversity and integrity of plants, animals and micro-organisms:
  • to promote research on ecological conservation and other environmental aspects and
  • to provide facilities for education, awareness, and training.

As per recommendations of a Core Advisory Group set up by the Government of India in 1979. 14 potential sites were identified for setting up biosphere reserves in the country.

Biosphere reserves set up so far are:

  • Nilgiri;
  • Nanda Devi:
  • Nokrek; (iv) Great Nicobar;
  • Gulf of Mannar; (vi) Manes: and
  • Comprehensive guidelines have been prepared which emphasise on formulation of eco-development and demonstration projects. development of database, conservation plans of key species, establishment of research stations and implementation of social welfare activities. Non-government organisations will be involved in the biosphere reserve programme for creation of public awareness.

Wetlands: India has a wealth of wetland eco-systems distributed in different geographical regions ranging from cold arid zone of Ladakh to wet humid climate of lmphal; warm and zone of Rajasthan to tropical monsonic Central India; and wet and humid zone of Southern Peninsula. Most of the wetlands in India are directly or indirectly linked with major river systems such as Ganga. Brahmaputra, Narmada. Tapti, Godavari, Krishna, Cauvery etc.

A National Wetland Management Committee has been constituted for advising the government on appropriate policies and measures to be taken for conservation and management of the wetlands and the Committee has identified 16 wetlands on priority basis for conservation and management. Steering committees have been set up by the concerned State government, in which representative of State government departments, universities and research institutions are included. Nodal research/academic institutions have been identified for each of the selected wetlands. A directory on wetlands of India has been published which gives information on location, area and ecological categorization which have been identified for each of the selected wetlands. Another directory on wetlands of India has been published which gives information on wetland in different parts of the country.

Mangroves: Mangroves are very specialized forest eco-systems of tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world bordering the sheltered sea coasts and estuaries. They stabilize the shoreline and act as bulwark against encroachments by the sea. Mangrove forests are dominated by salt tolerant inter-tidal halophytic sea plants of diverse structures. Mangroves occur all along the Indian coastline in sheltered estuaries, tidal creeks, backwaters, salt marshes and mudflats covering a total area of 6,740 sq km which is about seven per cent of the world’s total mangrove area. Realising the importance of mangroves, a scheme for conservation and management of mangroves has been initiated by the Ministry. A National Mangrove Committee was constituted to advise the government on appropriate policies and implementation of programme for conservation of mangroves. Based on the recommendations of the committee, these 15 mangrove areas have been identified: Northern Andaman and Nicobar (Andaman and Nicobar Islands), Sunderbans (West Bengal), Bhitarkanika (Orissa) Coringa, Godavari Delta and Krishna Estuary (Andhra PraAsh), Mahanadi Delta (Orissa). Pichavaram and Point Calimer (Tamil Nadu), Goa (Goa), Gulf of Kutchchh (Gujarat), Coondapur (Karnataka), Achra/Ratnagiri (Maharashtra) and Vembanad (Kerala).

Corals and Coral Reefs: Four coral areas have been identified, viz. Gulf of Kutchchh. Concerned State governments have been asked to prepare management action plans and also set up steering committees for undertaking the management of corals in the respective areas. The mangrove committee, existing at the State level, will also help in conservation programme of coral reefs. Information on all aspects of wetlands, mangroves and coral reefs is given in a publication India’s Wetlands, Mangroves and Coral Reels brought out by the Ministry.


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