GEO Report and India By- Yasmin Gill
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GEO and India (The Hindu) The sixth edition of the Global Environment Outlook from the UN Environment Programme has come as another stark warning World is unsustainably extracting resources and producing unmanageable quantities of waste The linear model of economic growth depends on extraction of ever-higher quantities of materials, leading to chemicals flowing into air, water and land This causes ill-health and premature mortality, and affects the quality of life, particularly for those unable to insulate themselves from these effects UN report, GEO-6, on theme "Healthy Planet, Healthy People," has some sharp pointers for India It notes East and South Asia have highest number of deaths due to air pollution As India's population grows, agricultural yields are coming under stress due to increase in average temperature and erratic monsoons.
The implications of these forecasts for food security and health are all too evident -Evidently, the task before India is to recognise the human cost of poorly enforced environment laws and demonstrate the political will necessary to end business-as-usual policies That would mean curbing the use of fossil fuels and toxic chemicals There are some targeted interventions that only require the resolve to reduce air and water pollution, and which in turn promise early population-level benefits Aggressive monitoring of air quality in cities through scaled-up facilities would bring about a consensus on cutting emissions -GEO-6 estimates that the top 10% of populations globally, in terms of wealth, are responsible for 45% of GHG emissions, and the bottom 50% for only 13% Pollution impacts are, however, borne more by poorer citizens.
Combating air pollution would, therefore, require all older coal- based power plants in India to conform to emission norms or to be shut down in favour of renewable energy sources Transport emissions are a growing source of urban pollution, and a quick transition to green mobility is needed .In the case of water, imperative is to stop the contamination of surface supplies by chemicals, sewage and municipal waste As the leading extractor of groundwater, India needs to make water part of a circular economy in which it is treated as a resource that is recovered, treated and reused But water protection gets low priority, and State governments show no urgency in augmenting rainwater harvesting New storage areas act as a supply source when monsoons fail, and help manage floods when there is excess rainfall
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