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The Problem of Environmental Pollution in India | Social Issue Essay, Article, Paragraph for Class 12, Graduation and Competitive Examination.

The Problem of Environmental Pollution in India

Scheme of the essay

Exposition: Environmentalism is the latest populist cause

Rising Action: Economic development should not be at the cost of the environment.


(i) Accumulation of greenhouse goods is dangerous

(ii) CFCs are lethal for the ozone layer

(iii) According to Russel 30,000 chemicals we are using are polluting the environment

Falling action: Cosmetic tinkering cannot help

Ending: The way to hell is paved with good intentions.

Environmentalism is the latest populist cause. From the non-governmental organisations to the Central and State Governments, and right now even the Supreme Court, everybody seems to be exercised about the cause of environmental pollution.

The highest court of the land had issued notice to the Government of Delhi as to why there should not be a blanket ban on the registration of new vehicles in Delhi, infamous as one of the most polluted cities in the world. Thanks to the court’s initiative, a veritable horde of polluting industries abutting the Capital have been summarily closed. Keeping the spotlight on the environmental cause, Justice Kuldip Sigh, formerly of the Supreme Court, drove home the point in a lecture in Bombay that economic development should not be allowed to be at the cost of untold environmental degradation. He has made a powerful plea for what has become another buzzword of our times, sustainable development.

But behind the well-worn cliches and the grey phrases, there lurks a grim reality, the gravity of which is far from sinking into our collective consciousness. Ecological jargon has become familiar to our ears. For instance, the average literate adult is aware of the fact that there is an ozone layer up there in the sky, which is somehow very crucial for the sustenance of all living beings on earth. He also dimly knows that the manufacture of some of the chemicals in everyday use damages this layer.

The somber reality underlying the ecological cause is really terrifying. The frightening truth is that the accumulation of the so-called greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, and other toxins that warm the globe and envelop the earth in a pall of thick smoke, in just the 30 years between 1960 and 1990, exceed the entire quantity of these pollutant gases emitted since the advent of the industrial revolution.

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) began to be used by man in 1930. Purely as an accidental discovery, in 1960, we found that these CFCs were so lethal that they were drilling a large and growing hole in the ozone layer above the earth’s atmosphere. We panicked at this shocking discovery because the ozone layer is critical to the survival of the human race. In the 60 years from 1930 to 1990, as many as 18 million tonnes of CFCs had been manufactured by the leviathans of mega chemical factories dotting the landscape of the earth, causing irreparable damage to the crucial layer. Ecology should no longer be seen as an idle intellectual flirtation of the chattering classes. It is an emergency concern for the survival of man. In the famous Montreal protocol, the comity of nations has agreed to phase out the production of all CFCs by the year 2010 A.D. But what precisely are the steps that have been taken to taper the manufacture of the deadly CFCs is a matter that is still shrouded in the hush-hush of corporate secrecy.

Let us not get swayed off our feet by hype and hearsay, but instead look merely at the grim realities on the ground. The testimony of Russel Train, the former Chief of the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) of the US, offers a shocking eye-opener. He pointed out a few years ago that “We know in fact very little about the health effects even of the 30,000 chemicals already in commercial production. We have no way of systemically screening the chemical that go into production every year; in other words, we not only don’t know whether what is going on out there is dangerous – we don’t even know what is going on out there. We have, however, learned one thing – it’s what we don’t know that can really hurt us, even kill us.”

The point is that is spite of all the benefits of our scientific knowledge, even today we don’t know to what dangers of environmental pollution are we exposed. What is even more scary is that pollution levels are going to become even more lethal in the coming years. According to UN projections, the world’s population will shoot up by 90 million on an average in just the space of one year Mankind’s demand for energy should conservatively grow by two per cent a year. What this increased energy generation is going to mean is that the emission of carbon dioxide will grow by 40 per cent by 2010 A.D., never mind all our shouting from the rooftops and crying ourselves hoarse about the discharge of greenhouse gases and global warming.

Just how desperate the situation is can be gauged from the authoritative warning signals that have been issued internationally, that what is urgently needed to stabilise atmospheric conditions around the globe is an immediate 60 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emission levels. The atmosphere poisoning is acute; and the poison needs to be removed urgently. But we don’t seem to have sensed how deep the poison has sunk into the system.

The fact that we are still blissfully oblivious of the extent of harm that we are inflicting upon ourselves and on nature by our economic and social activities is abundantly clear from the mere cosmetic tinkering on the periphery that we are doing in the name of environmental protection. Insistence on vehicles sporting “Pollution Under Control” certificates, ensuring the increasing currency of catalytic converters in automobiles to prevent the emission of lead fumes, measures to limit vehicle population, and the highly fashionable use of avant-garde wood-free and recycled papers these alone are the areas where our hands have reached.

We are desperately scrambling for new power stations, because of the serious power shortage in our country. Do we spare a thought for the toll that new power stations will take on our already fragile environment? Are we serious at all about exploring alternative sources of energy? Have we made significant efforts for energy conservation? Between 1973 and 1978, that is in the immediate aftermath of the oil crisis of 1973, 95 per cent of all the new energy supply of Europe came from wise conservation. Are the decision makers in this country even as much as aware of this? In the same period, 72 per cent of all the extra energy supply in the US came from the introduction of similar conservation measures. Practically no worthwhile research is taking place in our country on the commercialisation of the photovoltaic cell, and we are a land with an abundance of the sun. To cap this all, in the name of helping our farmers, we are encouraging the increased use of fertilisers in agriculture, thereby destroying soil ecology. The way to hell, as Oscar Wildle said, is paved with good intentions.


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