Environmental Challenges of
A MACRO LEVEL OUTLOOK
Planet Earth exists since 4.5 Billion Years.
Life on Earth started since last 2 Billion Years.
Human beings (homo sapiens) came in to
existence since last 2 Million years.
Civilization began since last 5000 years.
Modern Science has been there since last 750
Basic Environmental Facts
1) Forest cover is just 11 per cent
against the desirable 33 per cent
according to the National Forest
2) India is one of the mega centres of
biodiversity in the world.
3) About 16 rivers in the world
experience severe erosion: of
these Ganges stands 2nd
5) 10 per cent of Rural & urban
population does not have access
to regular safe drinking water.
4) Population growth will lead to decline
in per capita availability of fresh water-
1947---------5150 cubic meter
2000 --------2200 cubic meter
2017 ------- 1600 cubic meter
6) 1 crore suffer due to excess arsenic
7) 7 crore people in 20 states are at risk
due to excess fluoride.
8) Air pollution load from transport
sector was 0.15 million tonnes in
1947, which increased to 10.3
million tonnes in 1997.
10) Pollution load from Industrial
sector was 0.2 million tonnes in
1947, 3 million tonnes in 1997.
9) The organic content of the soil at
present is 0.2 per cent, while it was 3 to
3.5 per cent before green revolution.
11) At present, 1.2 billion people world
wide defecate in the open and India has
the uncomfortable distinction of leading
the list with 665 million (2006).
12) A study conducted by the Centre for
Science and Environment revealed that
the GDP in India has gone up by two and
a half times during 1975-95, while
industrial air pollution has gone up by four
13) World Bank estimates the total cost
of Environmental damage in India
amounts to U.S $ 9.7 billion
annually or 4.5 per cent of the GDP.
11.Asia brown cloud
12.Domestically prohibited goods.
13.Solid waste disposal
14.Pesticide residues in soft drinks
15.Contamination of drinking water
16.Global Warming-Climate Change
17.Linking of rivers
18. Damage by detergents
19. Slaughter house problem
20. Loss of Biodiversity
22. Mad cow Disease
24. Loss of Common Property
26. Bio-Fuel and Food Security
1. Poverty and environment
2. Population pressure and environment
3. Access to natural resources
4. Sustainable development
5. Internal and external threats
6. Urban environmental problems
7. Rural environmental problems
8. Global problems
Fine cereals like rice and wheat are given
priority leading to over production. These crops
are water intensive, less nutritious and require
more inputs for cultivation.
On the other hand, coarse grains like jowar
(sorghum), millets like bajra (pearl millet), ragi
(finger millet), kutki (little millet), kodo (kodo
millet), cheena (proso millet), kangani (foxtail
millet), pseudocereals like amaranthus,
buckwheat, jave (barley),jau (oats) and maize
are nutritionally rich, have their own speciality
like pest resistance, drought resistance and
Projections show that India is the
only country with negative growth in
coarse grain production.
Public Distribution is also responsible for
the sorry state of affairs.
Global production of coarse grains and projections show thatGlobal production of coarse grains and projections show that
India would be the only coarse grain producing country with aIndia would be the only coarse grain producing country with a
negative rate of growthnegative rate of growth
Rest of Europe
East Europe & Russian lederation
America (Mexico and south)
rate (%)Production (million tonnes)
Coarse grains contribute
food for 40% of the
country’s population and
two-thirds of the livestock
Increase in diabetes, heart
diseases and hypertension
can be taken as the
manifestation of the
replacement of traditional
food with food based on rice
The poor varieties of rice and wheat grown
in our country contain mostly starch and
very few vitamins and minerals; they are
also deficient in vitamin A and iron.
Our government is blindly inducing all
people to eat these deficient food items by
supplying it through PDS, as a result the
problem of deficiency of micronutrients like
iron, zinc, iodine and vitamins among the
poor is on the increase.
M.S.Swaminathan says “ Nutritional
security is in very bad shape in our
country. Every third child is under
weight. There are two types of hunger
in our country. You can see open
hunger, but hidden hunger, which is
due to micronutrient deficiency, is not
visible from outside. Both are serious
in our country.”
The best option is to diversify part
of lands under fine grain cultivation
to grow coarse grains.
Coarse grains make good
environment and social sense,
provide cheap alternatives for
regional food security and adequate
nutrition to the poorest of poor.
Loss of Access to Common Property
Resources : (CPRs)
Resources accessible to
owned/held/managed by an
identifiable community and on
which no individual has
exclusive property rights are
called Common Property
Resources (NSSO, 2000).
Extent and Decline of Area of CPR land in Dry RegionsExtent and Decline of Area of CPR land in Dry Regions
286101504127Tamil Nadu (2)
Persons per 10 ha
17. State owned irrigation water
18. Drinking water
19. Ground water
20. Barren and uncultivable land
21. Cultivable waste
22. Land under miscellaneous tree
crops and groves
23. Other then current fallow
24. Drainage canals
26. Cart path
27. Foot path
30. Road and road sides
31. Non tax govt. land
1. Community forests
2. Common grazing grounds
3. Tanks and tank beds
4. Tank foreshores
5. Threshing grounds
6. River and river beds
8. Waste lands (wet & dry)
9. Waste dumping places
10. Waste drainage
11. Village ponds
12. Burial and burning
13. Common drinking water
15. Small pites
16. Railway lines both sides
•Generally Common Property Resources [CPRs] includeGenerally Common Property Resources [CPRs] include
Population Pressure (Human & Livestock)
Commercialization of the Commons
Privatization of the Commons
Globalization of the Commons
Liberalization of the Commons
Anti – Poverty Programmes and
Causes of CPRs Degradation
Dangerous products undesired at
home are called Domestically
Prohibited Goods (DPG).
In international parlance, DGPs are
defined as products that are either
banned or severely restricted for
sale in the country of origin but are
allowed to be exported to other
Products notified as DGPs
Chemicals such as highly toxicliquids, benzene, chlorides, PCTs
Pharmaceuticals for human and animal use.
Fertilizers, pesticides and other plant protection products.
Substances used in food and food-stuffs such as additives.
Cosmetics and perfumery.
Dangerous substances used in toys and car accessories.
Dangerous products like auto-ignition candles, certain toy planes etc.
Gunpowder, explosives and military equipment.
Poisonous and deleterious substances.
Developed countries follow
double standards; they allow
export of DGPs to
developing countries but
prohibit import of the same
from these countries on the
ground that they may
contain toxic substances
Import of Mercury
India being the largest importer of
Mercury, its consumption has
increased five-fold over a period of
seven years, from 346 tonnes in
1997-98 to 1386 tonnes un 2002-
Methylmercury is neurotoxic.
Exposure to it causes health
hazards like irritation, speech and
visual impairment, kidney failure
Many examples can be cited to
point out the irrational dumping of
DGPs by the industrialized
nations into the poor countries.
Toxic wastes, hazardous
technologies, are being donated,
exported or dumped into
developing countries, which are
The Rich are guided by the
syndrome, while the poor by
the Welcome-in-my –
syndrome. However the poor
will choose poison over
starvation, because of the
impact of poison is slow and
The Basel convention
The Basel convention on the
control of trans- boundary
Movements of Hazardous
Wastes and their Disposal
was adopted in March 1989
and came into force on the
5th May 1999.
Loss ofLoss of
BiodiversityBiodiversityThe concept of biodiversity is quiteThe concept of biodiversity is quite
wider in terms of its constituents as itwider in terms of its constituents as it
covers all the living components ofcovers all the living components of
the extensive ecosystem from thethe extensive ecosystem from the
ancient flora and fauna to the recentancient flora and fauna to the recent
crops and livestock.crops and livestock.
In simple terms the realm ofIn simple terms the realm of
biodiversity comprises plants,biodiversity comprises plants,
animals and micro – organisms.animals and micro – organisms.
Basically these are resources both
biological and genetic in forms found
mostly in the tropical forests.
‘Insitu’ and ‘Exsitu’ that is in terms of
bio and genetic forms in the wild, before
being manipulated and developed and
kept in laboratories for further genetic
In situ resources
The developing countries are rich in natural resources
Native knowledge lies in mainly in the Southern countries
In situ technology
You sow and we reap
Seed Bank species
Resources are of the South but profits and with the North
Ex situ resources
No fair share
South is way behind in modern technology
Ex situ technology
Essentially the debate boils down to
the question of Economics. Only the
economic benefits over the use of
biodiversity cause much concern for
the North and South.
Another facet of Biodiversity
Convention is Sociology, quite
significant from the point of actual
forest dwellers who co-exist with
The North calls these resourcesThe North calls these resources
as global heritage, seems veryas global heritage, seems very
magnanimous as for as bio andmagnanimous as for as bio and
genetic resources are concerned.genetic resources are concerned.
Until 1992, the NorthernUntil 1992, the Northern
developed nations had gaineddeveloped nations had gained
accessibility almost freely to theaccessibility almost freely to the
biological resources across thebiological resources across the
This needs to be addressed in the
backdrop of globalization process,
which is an inevitable mechanism
in vogue. The socio-politico-
economic implications of releasing
such crops into the environment
need to be assessed critically.
Conventions was placed
in the Earth Summit, for
signature, almost 156
member countries had
signed barring a few.
exception is the United
States of America.
Genetically Modified (GM)
Genetically – engineered crops
are those which contain a
foreign gene. Geneticists today
can cut out a gene from
anywhere, not necessarily
plant and put it into any crop.
These way traits that are not
present in the particular crop
can be brought in from
anywhere: another plant, an
animal or even a bacterium.
A B C
Germplasm Germplasm New species
Genetically Modified Food
Are genetically modified organisms
(GMO) a panacea for solving the world’s
hunger problem or a potential threat to
environment in general and human
health in particular? This is a tough but
a formidable question for discussion.
Gene escape into the environment causing
growth of super weeds.
Destruction of useful insects along with the
pests harmful to the crops.
Transgenic crops, which have better growth,
might compete with desirable crops leading
to their loss.
Unexpected and undesirable change in the
ecology of that region.
Experimental errors – cloning wrong genes
into the organism.
Insertion of a desired gene sequence may
(cause) take place at an undesirable site in
– Andhra Pradesh, the state where more than 500
farmers committed suicide after a failed crop in
– A packet of One kg of Bt cotton is sold at
Rs.3000 per kg. This amount is excessively high
when compared to the price of the conventional
seed which is sold at Rs.500 per kg.
– According to GEAC rules, a refuge belt-
comprising one-fifth of every field - has to be se
up where planting of non- Bt varieties will be
British Rulers of India, saw bamboo as a
rich exploitable resource and declared
it as a tree for their own benefit,
thereby preventing access to the locals.
Carl von Linne, Swedish botanist and
‘Father of Taxonomy’ classifies bamboo
as a grass.
• Indian Forest Act, 1927, declared bamboo
as a tree.
• Modern taxonomy classifies bamboo as a
giant graminoid or grass belonging to the
• If regarded as tree- major forest resource-
denial of access to forest dwellers.
• If regarded as grass- minor forest resource-
natives of forest have right to access.
Carl Von Linne, the father of modern
taxonomy and modern ecology, argued
in favour of bamboo as a giant graminoid
Forest Rights Act, 2006, FRA was
passed in the Indian parliament on
13, December 2006.
This act has unfolded the
prejudices against the tribal
Government has monopoly to harvest,
use and sell bamboo.
Annual trade of bamboo in India is Rs.
10,000 to Rs. 15,000 crore.
Forms the major raw material for pulp
and paper industry and construction
Locals use bamboo for subsistence- part
of their livelihood.
Forest departments proclaim cutting and
transporting of bamboo illegal, if done by
Transit passes and permission to use
bamboo denied to the people who solely
depend on them for existence.
India, second richest country in bamboo
136 species of bamboo in India
9.57 million hectare of bamboo forest
Annual production of 4.7 million tonnes.
Forest communities have nurtured and
protected bamboo for centuries.
Traditionally they use bamboo for
construction of bridges, houses, fences
It is used as food- tender bamboo shoots
serve as food.
Every day utility items like utensils,
baskets, fans, mats and crafts are
produced for trade.
Government should proclaim bamboo as
a grass and thereby it becomes a minor
forest produce and the locals would have
Reluctance of State Governments to
forgo the revenue creates delay in
implementation of the amendment in the
Stakeholders partnership with easy
accessibility would conserve the bamboo
forest and prevent degradation.
Moreover bamboos are the most eco-
friendly material that can combat global
Bamboos sequestrates C02 at a higher rate than any
It reduces energy use in construction.
Durable, bio-degradable and non- toxic
High resilience and earth quake proof.
Holistic green energy solution
SUSTAINABLE USAGE – only way to maintain green
growth in the years to come.
Mining Industry and
India has huge mineral deposits.
Mineral production in 1993-1994 was of
value Rs. 25,000 crore.
In 2005-2006 it has become Rs. 84,000
crore (more than 70 per cent increase).
India’s Rank in Global Mining
IndustryCommodity Contribution in
Rank in order of
Coal and lignite 7.65 3
Petroleum 0.93 26
Bauxite 7.04 6
Chromite 17.71 2
Iron Ore 9.92 4
Manganese Ore 7.30 8
Barites 11.47 2
Magnesite 1.55 9
State-wise Lease for Major
MineralsState Number of leases Lease area
Andhra Pradesh 1482 47,905
Chattisgarh 259 30,353
Goa 396 30,325
Gujarat 1,589 37,457
Haryana 148 16,890
Jharkhand 384 45,185
Karnataka 514 50,902
Madhya Pradesh 1,154 33,465
Maharashtra 220 15,988
Orissa 629 95,532
Rajasthan 1,312 134,832
Impacts of Mining
Displacement of people
Loss of livelihood
Loss of biodiversity
Creation of fallow lands
Mineral wealth of our country sold at low cost to outsiders
Landslide, earthquakes, famine
Mining and seismic activity
Mining leaves huge void in earth’s surface-
this alters the balance of forces on rocks.
Ground collapses in mining areas and
produce seismic waves.
Mining may reactivate the existing faults in
earth and cause quakes.
Pohang Iron and Steel Company, (POSCO)
US $ 12 billion POSCO project covering 1620
hectare of which 1440 hectare is forest land in
the state of Odisha.
The project envisages a steel plant, power
plant and port. It also requires construction of
300 kms of railway track for transport of ore
from mines to factory through forest area.
Additional 2469 hectares of hilly area in
Khandadhar to be brought under mining.
This major project is for economic
development- according to the Odisha
Locals fight against the project since
Are they against development?
According to Government the project will
displace only 466 families, about 2,500 people
who will be adequately compensated.
But the forest area is the livelihood for more
than 10,000 to 15,000 people.
The forest of Sundergarh is home to Mundas, Oraons,
Paudi- Bhuiyan tribes.
Their livelihood is betel cultivation in the forest land and
other minor forest produce.
Forest Rights Act demands consent from these people
before initiation of the project.
The State government says these people are not entitled to
this right as they are not traditional forest dwelling
Compensation of Rs. 28.75 lakhs per
hectare of acquired land is being offered.
Betel farming provides Rs. 10- 17.5
lakhs per hectare per year.
The compensation will be equal to 2-3
years of revenue.
POSCO cannot employ locals as they
are not skilled labors.
POSCO may be development but will be
development that takes the livelihood of the
people for whom the project is meant for.
It is a tussle between land based economic
growth as against industrial growth.
POSCO is about GROWTH versus GROWTH.
1. Down To Earth, Science and
Environment Fortnightly, March 31,
2007, p 63.
2. The Hindu, April 9, 2007, Daphne
Wysham and Smith Kothari, ‘Climate
change will devastate India’ p11.
3. Leela Raina, TERRAGREEN, Teri,
1, Issue 8, November 2008.
4. Citizen's Report, State of India's
5. Nidhi Janwal, ‘e-waste Developing countries5. Nidhi Janwal, ‘e-waste Developing countries
are dumpyards for new millennium trash’, Down toare dumpyards for new millennium trash’, Down to
Earth, Science and Environment Fornightly, Vol 12, NoEarth, Science and Environment Fornightly, Vol 12, No
12, November 15, 2003, p 50-51.12, November 15, 2003, p 50-51.
6. Deepa Kozhisseri, ‘E- waste in real space’, Down to6. Deepa Kozhisseri, ‘E- waste in real space’, Down to
Earth, Science and Environment Fornightly, Vol 13,NoEarth, Science and Environment Fornightly, Vol 13,No
21, March 31, 2005,p 42-43.21, March 31, 2005,p 42-43.
Professor & Head
Department of Environmental
Mobile: 98425 25728