Developing countries, such as India and China, are among the top polluters in the world. China, with its large population, territory and fast-growing economy, has been one of the first polluters in the world. India looks set on following China’s footsteps.
The reason behind this kind of attitude lies in the desire to overtake China from an economic point of view. However, if India’s government took the time to deal with its current environmental issues, it could significantly help in the country’s fight against poverty and inequality.
Here is how pro–environmental policies could boost the economy of India.
Environmental Issues in India
According to the AirVisual World Air Quality report of 2018, 12 of the world’s 15 most polluted cities are in India. This is a consequence of many activities that are performed in India. India’s production of wheat and rice has been increasing in the past 60 years. Farmers found it hard to keep up with the demand and shifted from manual harvesting to combined harvesting. This technique consists in burning rice stubble. The smog created by this practice together with smoke produced by coal-fired power, diesel exhaust and other harmful gases cover the north of India. This kind of pollution is the cause of many premature deaths and it shortens the lives of the people living in the area.
India also ranks 120th of 122 on the global index of water quality. About 70% of surface water in the country has been found to be polluted. There is high overuse of water by Indian farmers that employ a great quantity of water. In addition, the Indian population lacks access to clean water: 200,000 people a year die and millions more get sick because of polluted water. Moreover, global warming influences the monsoons which are responsible for droughts and floods in the country. All this issues seem to be leading India to a water crisis.
How to Favour the Economy of India
Even though India’s government has put strict limits on vehicle-emissions standards and reached some solar-power targets, some of its decisions appear to be not very coherent or wise. For example, the employment of coal in the generation of power is expected to fall from 75% to 50%. However, the total amount of power generation will grow and more coal-burning power plants will be needed. Not only does these will increase greenhouse gases emissions, but they will also employ a great amount of freshwater thus contributing to the deaths by the water crisis. The government has tried to solve the hygenic issue that leads to water pollution by building 100 million toilets. These, however, are not functioning because of lack of water. And the government does not seem to be aware of the rising value of water.