Environmental issues in india

The term environment implies all the external factors – living and non- living, material and non-material which surround the human beings. The environment does not only include the water, air and soil that form our environment but also the social and economic conditions under which we live. Environment is the sum of all social, economic, biological, physical or chemical factors which constitute the surrounding of human beings, who are both the creator and molder of their environment. In the present scenario this environment where the human being making the living is continually mounting. There has been an ever increasing pressure of human population on the environment. The natural resources are being exploited by the developed countries for their luxury and splendors. , Whereas the developing countries are making extreme use of all the natural resources for their existence and growth. In all the cases the target of exploitation and depletion is the environment only. It has become a bigger challenge for the country now, to preserve the natural resources and biodiversity, and the ecosystem for the future generations.

There is a constant threat to our Ecosystem that is rather increasing by commercial exploitation, industrial pollution and frequent growth of human population. Our mother earth is fighting for the survival of its reservoirs—rivers, oceans, forests, wetlands, grasslands and plain lands. The problem of pollution is extending its tentacles in different areas of the environment that we understand as Environment Pollution. This pollution is causing hazardous dangers not only to the human existence but also to the survival of plants, trees, and animals. The whole environment has become polluted—the land where we live, the water that we drink, the air that we inhale, the plants, fruits and vegetable which we eat even the sound that we hear has become degraded. That further resulting in the form increased ill health issues among human beings. In fact the man’s health status is largely dependent upon the environment. And man only is often held responsible to bring depletion and for exploiting the environment around him. Man’s ill health issues can always be traced to the injurious environmental factors like; air pollution, soil and water degradation, poor housing and sanitation and air pollution.

Environment Issues in IndiaEnvironmental Pollution is one of the most horrendous ecological crises that we are facing today.  Air, land, and water which are the basic amenities for living organisms have been unfortunately polluted and depleted. Pollution of these amenities is giving rise to many big Environmental Issues. Especially in context of India, environmental degradation has given rise to many serious problems.  And there are many factors which are responsible for the depletion of the environment of our country. Such as—the root cause of environmental pollution has been human being’s misbehavior with the nature under the false ego that he is the master of the nature. The undesirable situation created by man has threatened the survival of man himself and other living beings on the earth. The modern ecologists have pointed out some important factors of environment pollution like; human population explosion, rapid industrialization, deforestation, unplanned urbanization, scientific and technological advancement etc. industrialization and industrialized countries are mainly responsible for the environmental degradation. The worst pollution occurs in the countries where there have been the greatest scientific, technology and industrial advances. Developing countries like India, Thailand, Philippines and others have been caught in the spiral of industrial growth.

 It has become a serious concern of the environmentalists, sociologists and economists to find out the solutions for environmental issues and to seek environment management. Among the developed and developing countries, environmental issues are getting top priority in their national policies. It is in this context the Government of India, in the Sixth Five- Year Plan (1980-85) had formed the following policy – “it is imperative that we use our renewable resources of water, soil, and vegetation to sustain our economic development. Over exploitation of these is visible in soil erosion, floods, and deforestation, siltation, floral, and wildlife resources. The depletion of these resources tends to be irreversible and since the whole population depends on these natural resources to meet their basic needs, i.e., fuel, land, fodder, it has meant a deterioration in their standard of life.”

Following are the environmental issues which seek the serious attention of the environmentalists of our country:

AIR POLLUTION :  the term Air Pollution signifies the presence in the surrounding atmosphere of substances like –gases, mixtures of gases and particulate matter; generated by the activities of man that interfere with human health, safety and comfort. The direct effect of air pollutants on plants, animals and soil can influence the structure and function of ecosystems, including self regulation ability, thereby affecting the quality of life. Air pollution is one the present day environmental and even the health problems throughout the India. It is one of the greatest threats to the health of Indian people in the today.

 Air pollution is caused mainly by the smoke from automobiles exhaust and gases released by industrial plants. The most important air pollutants are gases like carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, hydrogen sulphide and particulates like dust, smoke and lead particles. Factories with chimneys throwing out smoke into the air are not the only sources of this air pollution, a major offender is the automobile; cars , vans, Lorries and buses. The smoke belching from the exhaust of Lorries and buses is a familiar sight everywhere in big cities such as – Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore. These big cities spew daily into the air we breathe more than One Crore Kilograms of smoke. It is asserted that Mumbaiyites breathe every moment air containing so many poisonous chemicals that 10% more of them suffer from asthma, bronchitis, cough, colds and headaches than citizens of almost any other city or town of India.

The National Environment and Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) has pointed out that many monuments in India are being affected by the fumes emitted by industries. The top example of this is the Taj Mahal whose beautifully detailed architecture is getting adversely affected by the Government-owned Oil Refinery that is just 4 kms away and spew out 24 tonnes of sulphur dioxide daily. In Bhatinda of Punjab the Thermal Plant produces on an average per day 1200 tonnes of fly-ash that pollutes the nearby atmosphere. Likewise Badarpur and Indraprastha Thermal Electric Plants situated in Delhi produce on an average per day 180 tonnes of fly-ash and 70 tonnes of sulphur dioxide which contaminate the atmosphere. A number of monuments close to Rajghat and Indraprastha Power Station in Delhi are turning black due to the fumes and smoke. In a study Kolkata has been found to be a city to release on an average 1299 tonnes of polluted things in the atmosphere. The marble of Albert and Victoria Memorial in Kolkata is attacked by stone cancer. The traditional sources of fuel such as fuel wood, dung cakes and crop residue are also the major sources of air pollutants in India. Around 100 millions of households make use traditional sources of cooking fuel that produces smoke and numerous of air pollutants five times higher than coal. The Indian cremation rituals are also one of the major causes of air pollutions around 70% of the Indian population follow the cremation ritual by consigning the dead to fire. In the developing countries like India the air quality has deteriorated because of the rising industrial activity, increasing power  generation, and the congestion on streets with poorly motor vehicles that use leaded fuel. In the present scenario air pollution is adversely affecting the environment in India and also the health of Indian’s is severely affected by numerous of dangerous diseases like—heart diseases, lung diseases, high blood pressure, nervous debility, eye sore, paralyses, bronchial asthma, respiratory allergies, lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, throat irritation. Epidemiological studies have shown that a sudden increase in the air pollution has often been associated with an immediate increase in morbidity and mortality. India has been asserted as the third largest emitter of harmful gas Carbon Dioxide at 1.65 Gt per year.


  1. WATER :  water is essential for the survival of any form of life. About 80% of the earth’s surface is covered by water. Thus a great quantity of water exists on the earth, but only a fraction of it is usable, and that fraction is shrinking due to pollution. As usual, the combined pressure of the population growth and industrial development have imperilled India’s water supply. In India, water pollution comes from three major sources – Sweage, Industrial Waste and Agricultural Waste. Even if the source of water supply and its treatment are of a high standard, water pollution may still occur as often happens, due to corrosion of pipe lines, leaky joints and cross connections between water supply pipes and sewage drainage pipes. The nation’s rivers and lakes have long been the dumping ground for many industries. The rivers such as Ganga, Yamuna, Cauvery, lakes such as Dal and Nagin (Srinagar), Loktak (Manipur), Chilka (Orissa) and many others are becoming the dumping grounds for poisonous chemicals, factories, agricultural wastes, insecticides and even acids. Even the oceans have not been spared. In fact, into the oceans encircling India alone is spilt more than 1 million tonnes of oil annually.

There is a big damage caused to the rivers by the Industries and Sewage systems of India. The river Damodar supplies water to all the families and industries in the two major industrial cities of Durgapur and Asansol in between these two cities there are about 70 big factories and 250 coal mines which have made the water of the Damodar river entirely poisonous. The river Vrashabhavathi that flows near the city of Banglore is so polluted that its color has completely become black. Virtually there is no arrangement to purify the polluted water in many of the major cities. The extent of water pollution is such that around 60% of the diseases in India are caused due to the consumption of the polluted water. Polluted water is causing numerous of  the disease especially in the rural areas of India where the natural resources of water are mainly used for essential for living. Diseases like Cholera, Typhoid, Dysentery, Jaundice and Viral diseases are few hazardous diseases polluted water can cause.

  1. SOIL/LAND :  soil pollution is a desecration of soil by man-made substances that alter its physical, chemical and biological characteristics. From Kashmir to Kanyakumari tonnes of garbage are produced every day, including paper, plastic, wood, glass, metal, food and other wastes. This garbage is termed as solid wastes. In the major cities of India the quantity of domestic and municipal solid wastes produced is around 300-600 grams per person per day. In India, there are more than 100 million families they account for as much as 50 million buckets of solid waste every day. In a year, nearly 20,000 million buckets of these wastes find their way to garbage yards. If such garbage yards are not provided, people throw garbage wherever it is convenient for them and in this absence of proper arrangements for the disposal of solid wastes each family is adding to land pollution in one way or another. The solid waste is typically disposed of by burying it in landfills, burning it and sometimes even recycling it. Except for recycling all the traditional disposal methods create problems of air, land and water.

In India the major sources of Land Pollution are Industrial wastes such as paper, chemicals, textile, fly-ash, rubber and etc. Agricultural wastes like artificial fertilizers, pesticides, farm wastes, etc. Radioactive wastes which are released during nuclear explosion and released from nuclear power plants. Domestic wastes, Street Refuse like leaves, straws, paper, plastic, animal droppings, litters. Marketers Refuse that is collected from the markets of a large proportion of putrid vegetables, packing materials and animal matter. Land/soil pollution reduces the fertility of the soil. Due to its adverse effect our land is losing the natural capacity to support growth of plants and trees. It immensely affects the animal and human lives. Human and animal health has been endangered due to the diseases caused by heaps of garbage. It is spoiling the landscapes and devours our living spaces. Solid waste is posing a serious problem to our lands. Our land is becoming the breeding grounds for disease-bearing bacteria.

SANITATION ISSUES : in the past, sanitation was centered on the sanitary disposal of human excreta but in actual fact, the term sanitation covers the whole field of controlling the environment with a view to prevent diseases and promote health. With the increase in environmental pollution especially with the increase of land and water pollution caused by solid wastes, the sanitation issues have taken up a serious note. Public health is not safe. Lands are becoming big garbage grounds, natural water is totally contaminated that is causing so many serious health problems for human beings and animals. The term environmental sanitation is now being replaced by environmental health. The living conditions are no more safe for the people. Their food, products and commodities are no longer clean and hygienic. There is a constant fear of health hazards.

NOISE POLLUTION : man is living in an increasingly noisy environment. The previous 20th century has been described as the ‘Century of Noise’. Noise has become a very  important ‘stress factor’ in the present environment of human beings. Noise is often defined as wrong sound in the wrong place at the wrong time. An irresponsible or meaningless noise is disturbing and annoying. India is full of various kinds of noise that is caused by the industries, vehicles, trains, loudspeakers, air, etc. Noise is  a byproduct of human activity and is found to cause some kind of physical, physiological or psychological harm or stress to human beings. Noise level is particularly acute near railway junctions, traffic roundabouts, bus terminals and airports. Use of pressure horns, recreational noise of loudspeakers with full volume during festivities particularly at night are other sources of noise pollution. Noise pollution or environmental noise is one of the new killers of our Indian society, as civilization grows noise pollution also grows.  India is a crowded country full of people, not even a single place is devoid of noise particularly the market places are so much noisy. Noise pollution has its adverse effects on human lives in the form of the problems like hearing problems, loss of mental peace and results in emotional upset. It has also an adverse effect on animal life. It retards their growth and effects their working ability.

OTHER ISSUES :  there are other environmental issues which are also in the concerned list of the environmentalists of India. Such as – Climate Change issues related to global warming. There is has been a sudden rise in floods, droughts in many parts of India in the recent times. The  weather has been unpredictable in the recent times. Energy Conservation issues, Food Safety issues, Biological pollutants are increasing in the environment and Wildlife conservation is also one of the serious concerns. Let us now ponder over few of the suggestions we might consider to enhance the quality of our environment.

Following are the few suggestions to manage the environment issues of India and their consequences :

  • Strict National Industrial Policy :  it is very much required to undertake an appropriate national industrial policy in order to protect our national interests including the environmental interests. It is a known fact that unregulated industrialization has been causing environmental pollution therefore it is essential to implement the national industrial policy in a very strict manner.
  • Unbalanced Urbanization has to be Ceased : urbanization is increasing at a rapid pace in India. Existing cities are growing rapidly and new cities are making room for their growth and development. There is no regulation nor any control over the growth of both kinds of the cities. These cities are spoiling the nearby environment. Hence their unregulated growth should be stopped.
  •  Use of Pollution Control Gadgets in Vehicles on Roads : owners of the motor vehicles should be instructed well to use the pollution control gadgets so that they can be aware and alert about the extent to which their vehicle is emitting in the atmosphere. People should be very regular in regard of the pollution of their vehicles getting checked. The vehicles which emit over smoke in the air should be penalized strictly.
  • Recycling of Non-Degradable Material : we must make necessary arrangements to recycle and reuse the discarded materials and minimize the use of non-degradable materials. People can reuse their old stuff, particularly the old boxes made up of paper, and many other things which we usually throw outside the home and make the atmosphere unsafe for animals and other living organisms. Note : the empty bottle of deodorant spray, and used needles must be discarded as soon as they are already used. They must not be reused.
  •  An Increase in the CNG fitted vehicles : there are numerous of automobile companies competing with each other in regard of launching new and advanced automobiles. These companies should increase the number of CNG fitted vehicles which are safer for the atmosphere and will help to control air pollution in the environment. CNG is a friendly gas in the atmosphere and comparatively cheaper than petrol and diesel.
  • Regular Removal of Garbage and Improvement in the Sewage system : the municipal and city administration must take steps to remove the garbage, dust and other thrown away articles deposited in the dustbins. People also should learn the art of depositing the garbage only in the dustbins and not throwing it everywhere or anywhere. There should be improvement in the sewage system; sewage wastes go into the streams, rivers lakes and coastal waters that cause many problems. Sewage water hence should be purified before it is allowed to join the rivers, lakes or coastal water.
  • Forests Conservation :  people should be aware about the importance of forests in preserving the purity of our environment. Special efforts should be made to grow more plants and trees in order to conserve the existing forests. An increased number of gardens and parks should be developed around the premises of hospitals, educational institutions, industries, government offices, etc. the National Wildlife Action plan should also be implemented well in order to protect the wildlife in the country.
  • Serious Endeavors to Protect the Ozone Layer : destruction of the Ozone layer could create a suicidal effect. It is therefore absolutely required to protect the thin, sensitive ozone layer. It is very much essential to ban S.S.T flights which fly at exceeding speeds exceeding that of sound and also a source of pollution in the upper atmosphere, to stop  the atmospheric nuclear explosion and ban aerosol containers such as an aerosol cans like hair-dye or perfume spray containers.
  • Special Financial Assistance for the environmental interest : there should be provisions in our national budget for a special fund to give financial assistance to the local bodies to safeguard the environmental interests.
  • Raising the Civic Sense among the People : the unwanted inorganic substance like tins, plastic bags, boxes, bottles, wrappers etc. should be thrown into the public dustbins only. People should be aware of the civic sense. Activities like littering, spitting, urinating and in the atmosphere must be avoided by the people. Such civilized acts of people would also help the municipal administration to collect and take the crap to a distant place. Plastic polythene is already banned by the administration and everyone should avoid using them in any case.
  • Creating Environmental Awareness among the Young/Children : special arrangements must be made to create environmental awareness among the children and the young people. Training and right guidance about the environment at an early age especially in schools and colleges go a long way in creating awareness to protect the environment. Children should be encouraged for plantation and to take an interest in the environmental activities. Childhood is the best age to teach them the civic manners.
  • Environmental Education Program : today in such a polluted and unhealthy atmosphere it has become must to educate the people to take proper precautions and steps to save the environment from depleting. A special body of the U.N.O namely UNEP (United Nations Education Program) has stressed the importance of such a kind of education long back in 1977. The environmental education programs should include –the environmental education and training at schools, colleges and university level, environmental sciences, which deal with advanced sciences and its effect on air, water and soil degradation and environmental engineering, that includes the study to assess the impact of engineering science on the environment.

India is facing serious environmental problems. In the quest to improve the quality of life human beings have changed and  disturbed the balance of the nature by adding their disturbing components. There is an urgent need to manage the Environment. Human beings deliberately need to understand that even the nature has a certain limit to which it can be exploited. The urge to exploit and consume the resources provided by the Earth has made the human being little bit more greedy. They are just taking and taking from the nature and in return paying no attention to its improvement and further growth. The stage is not far away when this Nature would have nothing to give to this human race. Environment is the most important factor of our lives and without creating a balance in it we cannot assume a healthy and wealthy life.

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