Environment Degradation In Indian Essayist



I. Introduction

-Significance of the study
-Literature Review

-Research Methodology

II. Environmental Conflict: A Conceptual Analysis

-Evolution of Environmental Conflict Research

III. Environmental Degradation in Bangladesh

-Sea Level Rise

-River Bank Erosion

-Coastal Erosion

-Population pressure


-Decline in the Quality and Quantity of Freshwater Resources

-Air Pollution

-Cyclones & Storms
-Loss of Bio-diversity

IV.Consequences of Environmental Degradation

-Decline in Agricultural Productivity

-Economic Decline

-Health Hazards

-Decreased Industrial Production

-Fuel Wood Scarcity

-Growing Incapability of State


V. Migration to India

-Climate change and migration

-Migration from Bangladesh to India
-Why Bangladeshi Migrants Take refuge in India

-Why Bangladeshi Migrants Come to India and not Chinese or Pakistani Migrants

VI. Impact in India

-Security Implications
-Demographic Impact

-Tension between Two Countries

-Threat to Territorial Integrity

-Economic Impact
-Political Impact






In the era of globalisation, where opening of borders is being advocated all over the world, there is one issue over which no nation-state is ready to compromise with its territorial borders. The issue of migration and refugees is considered so sensitive that states have often linked it with their sovereignty, independence and even existence. Environmental degradation has become a crucial issue in the contemporary world. The effects of climate change are likely to trigger mass human movement both within and across international borders. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (“UNHCR”) predicts that between 50 and 200 million people may be displaced by 2050. Thus, the human impact on the environment is creating a new kind of global casualty for the twenty-first century—an emergent class of environmental migrants. Environmental crisis in the rural areas of developing countries is increasingly becoming an important cause of cross-border migration of population and South Asia is no exception to this phenomenon. Such movement of population in the Indo-Bangladesh context is generating a range of destabilising socio-political, economic, ethnic and communal tensions in India. It has embittered Indo-Bangladesh relations, causing tensions between the two countries.

Significance of the study:

This research work has tried to answer a few pertinent questions, which often arise in the minds of the students of International Politics and environmentalists. The questions like What is environmental conflicts?, Why environmental security is a national security in recent times?, What are the root cause of migration from Bangladesh?, Are environmental change is a driven factor of migration of Bangladeshi people?, What are the impacts of the migration in India?, Why Bangladeshi migrants migrate to India?, What are the pool factor of Bangladeshi migrants?, What are the push factor behind the migration of Bangladesh people to India?, What are the implication of the policies of the for this issue?,

Literature Review:

Gaan, Norratam. (2000), in his book “ Environment and Security: The casa of South Asia has discussed that the concept of environmental security arose at a time when there was already an intellectual ferment in the field of international security in the western world. The need for reconceptualizing the traditional understanding of security due to the latter’s utter inadequacy was felt. The need was to secure the people living within the state. Environmental degradation has been perceived as an equal if not greater threat to a neighbouring country in terms of pollution and environmental refugees, environmental security becomes a national security concern.

Datta, Sreeradha. (2012), in her book (eds), “ illegal migration and challenges for India ”, has explain the issue of illegal migration is highly motive and sensitive in Bangladesh and all governments have regularly denied the existence of the phenomenon. Although this has often been flagged in the meetings between border officials, Bangladesh finds it difficult to accept the fact that its citizens are illegally crossing over into India in search of livelihood. Academic communities in both countries have viewed the problem in the light of sociological and historical factors, but Bangladeshi politicians have been very defensive and unwilling to examine the issue through a rational prism. Rather ironically while Bangladesh push-sells its ‘hard working, disciplined, multi-skilled, easily trainable human resources [which] remain [Bangladesh’s] greatest asset’, and has been discussing the issue of legalising migration of its working population to different parts of the world (including Malaysia and Brunei), this subject remains a taboo as far as India is concerned.

Gaan, Norratam & Das, Sudhansubala. (2004), in their book “Recrudescence of violence in North-East Indian States: Roots in Environmental Scarcity, Induced Migration from Bangladesh”, attemptedthat under the simmering cauldron of violence and insurgencies in Indian states lie imperatively the environmental causes or factors inducing migration from Bangladesh which the policy makers are enjoined upon to reformulate what they have so far considered as national security prioritized on realist paradigm. They argued that human induced environmental degradation and pressures might seriously affect national and international security. The topic ‘environmental security’ encompasses an almost unmanageable array of sub issues, especially if security is defined broadly to include general, physical, social and economic well-being. The scope of the problem has been narrowed by focusing on how environmental stress affects conflict, rather than security. Environmental stress might contribute to conflict as diverse as war, terrorism, or diplomatic and trade disputes.

The scope has been focused on how environmental stress affects violent national and international conflict. The connection between environmental scarcity and degradation of resources and violent conflict has been well established in the this study which focused on causes and problems of environmental scarcity and degradation of resources in Bangladesh. The various social effects in terms of economic decline and poverty, and growing incapability of the state have been studied which ultimately have led to migration of Bangladeshi people to Indian states. Keeping in mind the disastrous consequences of environmental scarcity of resources, finally they suggested a broader comprehensive security in South Asia on environmental dimension as a major part of the solution to the crisis as well to the other outstanding issues bedeviling their bilateral relation. This study assumed importance in global context, as global warming due to the industrialized North’s emission of co2to the atmosphere has a great bearing on Bangladesh and other countries like Egypt and Maldives. The present study posits a challenge to the western pattern of development being imitated by the South at the cost of their own environment, society and economy.

Jahan, Momtaz . (2008, April-June), in his article The impact of Environmental degradation on women in Bangladesh: An overview”has focused on the gender differential impact of environmental degradation in Bangladesh and how women have to bear the outcome of nature’s maladies disproportionately.

Alam, Sarfaraz. (2003) , in his article Environmentally Induced Migration from Bangladesh to India” has discussed and argued on environmental crisis as a reason for the continued migration of people from Bangladesh to India. It shows that scarcity of land and water in the rural areas of Bangladesh, caused by rapid population growth, environmental change and unequal resource distribution and development are causing widespread landlessness, unemployment, declining wages and income, growing income disparities and degradation of human habitat. The affected people, unable to satisfy their needs in an economically less-developed Bangladesh, are increasingly moving to India where the prospect of life appears to be better and suggested that this flow of population would continue unabated, perhaps at a greater rate, unless remedial measures are taken in the places of origin of the migrants.

Dixon, Homer. (1994), in his article “Environmental Scarcities and violent Conflicts: Evidence from Cases “ has analyzed within the next fifty years, the planet's human population will probably pass nine billion, and global economic output may quintuple. Largely as a result, scarcities of renewable resources will increase sharply. The total area of high-quality agricultural land will drop, as will the extent of forests and the number of species they sustain. Coming generations will also see the widespread de- pletion and degradation of aquifers, rivers, and other water resources; the decline of many fisheries; and perhaps significant climate change. If such "environmental scarcities" become severe, could they precipitate violent civil or international conflict? The article concludes with an assessment of the implications of environmentally induced conflict for international security.

Hagmann, Tobias. (2005, January), in his article “Confronting the Concept of Environmentally Induced Conflict”. argued that the concept of environmental conflict is fundamentally flawed, as it relies on preconceived causalities, intermingles eco-centric with anthropocentric philosophies, and neglects the motivations and subjective perceptions of local actors. In addition, a number of theoretical and heuristic questions are raised in order to challenge core assumptions on the ecological causes of violent conflict. The article concludes with a plea for peace and conflict researchers to call into question the concept of environmental conflict, as it represents an inappropriate research strategy in our quest to understand human-nature interactions.

Swain, Ashok. (1996), in his article Displacing the Conflict: Environmental Destruction in Bangladesh and Ethnic Conflict in India” , has described Conflicts may arise directly due to scarcity of resources caused by environmental destruction, and can also be the potential consequence of environmentally forced population migration. India and Bangladesh are in a long-standing dispute over the sharing of the waters of the River Ganges. Since 1975, India has been diverting most of the dry-season flow of the river to one of her internal rivers, before it reaches Bangladesh. At Farakka, this has affected agricultural and industrial production, disrupted domestic water supply, fishing and navigation, and changed the hydraulic character of the rivers and the ecology of the Delta in the down-stream areas.

These trans-border human-inflicted environmental changes have resulted in the loss of the sources of living of a large population in the south-western part of Bangladesh and have necessitated their migration in the pursuit of survival. The absence of alternatives in the other parts of the country has left no other option for these Bangladeshis but to migrate into India. The large-scale migration, from the late 1970s, of these Muslim migrants into Hindu-dominated lndia has culminated in a number of native-migrant conflicts in the receiving society. The Indian state of Assam, which received a large proportion of these migrants, was the first to experience conflict. Conflicts between natives and migrants have now spread to other parts of India and have becomea major issue for politically rising Hindu organizations. As this study determines, environmental destruction not only creates resource scarcity conflicts, it can also force the people to migrate, thus leading to nativemigrant conflicts in the receiving society.

Behera, Subhakanta. (2011, May), in his article “Trans-border identities: A Study on the impact of Bangladeshi and Nepali migration to India”,has examined the implications for India’s national interest, especially when the migration is illegal and poses multi-layered challenges to the Indian state. The paper looks at various policy options for the government to tackle migration-related issues. It concludes inter alia that, India’s borders with Bangladesh and Nepal must be regulated and that resident migrants need to be strategically dealt with, keeping in mind age-old relationships with these countries and, more importantly, the nature and construct of our geography.

Reuveny, Rafel. (2007) in his article ,” Climate change-induced migration and violent conflict” has argued that the effects of climate change on migration by exploring the effects of environmental problems on migration in recent decades. People can adapt to these problems by staying in place and doing nothing, staying in place and mitigating the problems, or leaving the affected areas. The choice between these options will depend on the extent of problems and mitigation capabilities. People living in lesser developed countries may be more likely to leave affected areas, which may cause conflict in receiving areas.

Naser, Mohmud Mostafa,(2012) in his article “Climate Change, Environmental Degradation, and Migration: A Complex Nexus” has examined the possible link between environmental change and consequent human migration. It shows how the major impacts of climate change play a substantial role in triggering human migration. Then it analyzes the types of environmental migration found in the literature on causes and extent of movement. Providing an overview of predicted numbers and figures of environmental migration, this Article also analyzes debates associated with environmental migration mainly based on the problem of multi-causality to show the diversity and complexity of issues related to environmental migration. Finally, this Article argues for recognition of and protection for migrants forced to move to safer places due to certain direct impacts of climate change, notwithstanding the existence of multi-causality.

Panda, Architesh. (2010), in his article “Climate Induced Migration from Bangladesh to India: Issues and Challenges” argued on climate variability and changes as a reason for the continued migration of people from Bangladesh to India and attempts to understand the vulnerability of people using the concepts of nested vulnerability. The vulnerability of specific individuals and communities is not geographically bounded but, rather, is connected at different scales. Among the many causes of vulnerability of people, cross border migration due to climate change might increase the susceptibility of people to climate change in both the countries. Without adequate bilateral and multilateral institutional arrangements in place to protect of climate migrants, it will pose greater risks to India.

Kumar, Chirantan (2009, January) , in his article Migration and refugee issue between India and Bangladesh” has attempt to understand the migration and refugee issue between India and Bangladesh through historical and analytical methods. In this course it will look into the emergence of the refugee problem, its causes, impacts and eventually will come up with a possible roadmap that can suggest a practicable solution to the problem.

Objectives of study:

This research work is devoted to provide basic ideas of the followings:

-To explore the knowledge about environmental change as a factor of International Migration.
-To focus the ideas about environmental induced migration from Bangladesh to Indian
-To focus the problems of Indian States Caused by Bangladeshi migrants.
-To focus that environmental security as a national security.


1, .Decreasing supplies of physically controllable environ- mental resources, such as clean water and good agricultural land, would provoke interstate "simple-scarcity" conflicts or resource wars.
2. Migration caused by environmental stress would induce "group-identity" conflicts, especially ethnic clashes.
3. Severe environmental scarcity would simultaneously increase economic deprivation and disrupt key social institutions, which in turn would cause "deprivation" conflicts such as civil strife and insurgency.

Research Methodology:

The study is an analytical study. It is an empirical research work based on environmental change is the root cause of migration from Bangladesh to India which is driven force of conflicts and violence or insurgencies in Indian states.

The kind of data is qualitative in nature. The data is compared with the previous figures given. Most of the data are secondary

Chapterization of study:

The research work has altogether seven chapters.

The Chapter I: Introduction: This chapter explains about significance of the study, literature review, objectives of study, hypothesis, research methodology and chapterization of study.

The Chapter II: Environmental Conflict: A Conceptual Analysis. This chapter explains the meaning of environmental conflict and environmental security. The sub chapter: Evolution of Environmental Conflict Research explains the evolution of the concept of environmental conflict with the views of Two research groups researchers at the University of Toronto directed by Thomas Homer-Dixon, usually referred to as “the Toronto Group”; and scholars associated with the “Environment and Conflict Project” (ENCOP) of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and the Swiss Peace Foundation in Bern.

The Chapter III: Environmental degradation in Bangladesh: This chapter evaluates about the degradation of environment in Bangladesh such as; sea level rise, river bank erosion coastal erosion, population pressure, flood, decline in the quality and quantity of freshwater resources air pollution, cyclones & storms, finally loss of bio-diversity

The Chapter IV: Consequences of Environmental degradation in Bangladesh: This chapter talks about the impacts of environmental change in Bangladesh such as; Decline in agricultural productivity, economic decline, health hazards, decreased industrial production, fuel wood scarcity, growing incapability of state and migration. These are discussed in this chapter.

The Chapter V: Migration to India: This chapter presents the knowledge about climate change and migration, migration from Bangladesh to India, why Bangladeshi migrants take refuge in India, why Bangladeshi migrants come to India and not Chinese or Pakistani migrants.

The Chapter VI: Impacts on India: This chapter examines the impacts of the Bangladeshi migration to India. In this context the topic presents the detail ideas about these impacts security implication, demographic impact, tension between two countries, threat to territorial integrity, economic impact, and political impact

The Chapter VII: Conclusion: This concluding chapter describes about economic measures, border control measures, eradication of environmental degradation, conflict management and conflict resolution: approaches, reduction of carbon dioxide: north’s responsibility, in crying need: an effective immigration policy



While focusing on states as unity of analysis, the realist approach does not take into account the environmental issues and downplays the internal factors and the indirect transboundary effects of environmental degradation. This has led Homer Dixon to states that, “realism induces scholars to squeeze environmental issues into a structure of concepts including state, sovereignty, territory, national interest and the balance of power”. This, in his opinion may “lead theorists to ignore, distort, and misunderstand important aspects of global environmental problems.” (Gaan, 2000:3)

Environmental security as a concept encompassing non military aspects was officially mentioned for the first time in the International Conference on the Relationship between Disarmament and Development, convened by the United Nations General Assembly in New York from 24 August to 11 September 1987. The final document adopted by consensus by the representatives from 150 participating states, says:

“Recently non-military threats to security have moved to the forefront of global concern. Underdevelopment as well as mismanagement and waste of resources, constitutes challenges to security. the degradation of the environment presents a threat to sustainable development…mass poverty, illiteracy, disease, squalor and malnutrition affecting a large proportion of\ the world’s population often become the cause of social strain, tension and strife” (Fisher, 1933:10).

Growing further than this, the report, by the WORLD Commission on Environment and Development (Brundtland Report) entitles “Our Common Future” stressed the influence of environmental degradation on the relationship between states. It attempted to establish the conflictual relationship between states as:

“Environmental stress is both a cause and effect of political tension and military conflict. It states that, ”nations have often fought to assert or resist control over raw materials, energy supplies, land, river basin, sea passages and other key environmental resources. According to the report such conflicts are likely to increase as these resources become scarcer and competitions for them will increase” .[1]

Jessica Mathews justifies the reasons for encompassing resource availability questions as well as environmental issues into the framework of security.

Norman Myers, similarly held that

“…..national security is not just about fighting forces and weaponry, It relates to watersheds, crop lands, forests, genetic resources, climatic and other factors that rarely figyre in the minds of military exports and political leaders, but increasingly deserve, in their collectivity, to rank alongside military approaches as crucial to nation’s security’s.

Westing in similar vein suggested incorporating environmental issues into the themes of comprehensive security in the sense of security for all citizens in a state rather than into a narrow understanding of security in military denominations.( Gaan & Das,2004: 19,20)

All these show that threats are not only military but also environmental

The conceptual development of environmental security as a new theme in international relations studies marks the beginning of the environmental conflict school. Since the mid-1980s, scholars such as Westing aimed at extending conventional security thinking to include other issues such as environmental change and resource depletion. This interdisciplinary and largely conceptual debate mobilised academic and political stakeholders alike. It was expanded by the end of the Cold War and exemplified the search for alternative paradigms in international affairs and security studies. Contributions focused on whether and under what circumstances the

biophysical environment represents a threat to national and global security. To this day the discourse on environmental security - as a potential threat to stability or a policy goal that needs to be achieved - is part of an epistemic community that critically advocates the broadening of (post-) national security.

Since the beginning of the 1990s, an ambiguous body of literature has emerged on the topic of environmentally induced conflicts. Claims that increasing resource scarcity and environmental degradation contribute to violent conflict. When empirical studies by environmental conflict scholars replaced alarmist assertions in the mid-1990s, [2] this initial doubt evolved into methodological and theoretical criticism. Numerous controversies have occurred in the past decade between members of the environmental conflict school and those opposed to their findings.

Much has been said and written about challenges to environmental conflict research and strategies to overcome the current deadlock. Prominent authors like de Soysa report that the debate on environmentally induced conflicts has reached a theoretical impasse unhelpful for policy makers and those wishing to prevent conflict. Dalby, who reasons from the perspective of a political ecologist, comes to the same conclusions. Gleditsch also subscribes to a “fairly pessimistic assessment of the state of the study of environmental causes of conflict”. Finally, Matthew concurs that the field’s value has been depressed by “simplified renderings of environment and security literature” (Hagmann, 2005:3, 4).

An environmental conflict is a conflict caused by the environmental scarcity of a resource, that means; caused by a human made disturbance of its normal regeneration rate, environmental scarcity can result from the overuse of a renewable resource or from the strain of the ecosystem’s; sink capacity, that is pollution. Both can reach the stage of a destruction of the space of living. [3]

According to Thomas F.Homer Dixon environmental change referred to a human induced decline in the quantity or quality of a renewable resource which occurs faster than its renewal by natural processes. (Dixon, 1994:8)

Environmental conflicts manifest themselves as a political, social. Economic, ethnic, religious or territorial conflicts or conflicts over resources or national interests, or any other type of conflict. They are traditional conflicts induced by environmental degradation.

Environmental conflicts are characterized by the principal importance of degradation in one of more of the following fields:

- Overuse of renewable resources;
- Overstrain of environment’s sink capacity (pollution);
- Impoverishment of the space of living.

Evolution of Environmental Conflict Research

Divergent conceptual approaches, methodologies, and levels of analysis make a coherent presentation of the environmental conflict literature difficult. Adding to this difficulty is the literature’s division into specific sub-themes such as water conflicts, land and territorial disputes, or conflicts over mineral resources including oil and diamonds. Previously the state of the art had been based on consecutive “generations” of environmental and conflict research, noted differences and commonalities in methodology and research design, or stressed underlying normative underpinnings and epistemology. This section recounts the evolution of environmental conflict research (in the disciplinary fields of political science and international relations) on the basis of its most important themes or research strands. These research strands are partially overlapping, not consecutive in a chronological sense, and mutually constitutive as they reflect the dialectic evolution of the field.

A number of major contributions on empirical tracing of the environment-conflict link emerged in the early 1990s. They were characterised by a strong emphasis on empirical evidence and a “process-tracing” methodology applied to numerous case studies. This research stream focused predominantly on causal links between environmental scarcity, degradation, and acute national and international conflict in developing countries and countries in transition. Two research groups were at the forefront of the endeavour to demonstrate and typify causal mechanisms between resource scarcity and physical violence: conflict researchers at the University of Toronto directed by Thomas Homer-Dixon, usually referred to as “the Toronto Group”; and scholars associated with the “Environment and Conflict Project” (ENCOP) of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and the Swiss Peace Foundation in Bern. Both research groups used different terminology and concepts. Nevertheless both aimed to reveal empirically how and under what circumstances resource scarcity causes armed conflict.

Their analysis focused mainly on renewable resources that are key for food production such as cropland, freshwater, and forests. Both projects operated exclusively on the basis of ex-post analysis of cases where environmental scarcity had actually led to conflict. Consequently, both defined conflict typologies and theorised on the socio-political processes that led to violent conflict. The Toronto Group conceded that environmental scarcity “rarely contributes directly to interstate conflict”. Conversely, its conclusions remained fairly determined, as a number of negative consequences such as impoverishment, population displacement, or states weakening were associated with environmental scarcity.

These social effects create and reinforce instability. Under given circumstances, this leads to collective violent action. Consequently, three main types of armed conflict might arise from environmental scarcity; that is, simple-scarcity conflicts, group-identity conflicts, and insurgencies in the context of relative deprivation of lower-status groups. ENCOP in turn envisioned seven stereotypical environmental conflicts; ethno-political conflicts, centre-periphery conflicts, regional migration/displacement conflicts, transboundary migration conflicts, demographically caused conflicts, international water/river basins conflicts, and international conflicts arising from distant sources due to neo-colonialist exploitation of resources.

The next research thrust was inspired by theoretical and methodological criticism of the Toronto Group and to a lesser degree to ENCOP.

A number of researchers associated with the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo, and figure prominently among this strand of environmental conflict research. This heterogeneous group of scholars initially set out to test and validate or disprove conclusions of previous research. They used statistical methods and conducted large cross-national tests. Consequently their contributions provided a clearer picture of geographic and diachronic frequency distributions of environmental conflict cases. Use of quantitative models allowed them to ponder the relative weight of various variables and thereby to refine existing environmental conflict models. New ecologic and socio-political variables were included in studies that focused on renewable and non-renewable natural resources alike.

Some core conclusions of the previous research strand were challenged, namely the alleged determinism between resource scarcity and violent conflict. Nonetheless, scholars in this phase remained attached to the idea of investigating causalities and correlations Economic and political variables were identified as “missing links” between environmental degradation and armed conflict. While these contributions of International Peace Research Institute, Oslo,-associated researchers innovated the empirical analysis of environmental conflicts, they failed to generate new theoretical insights or ground-breaking concepts. Between environmental variables and domestic armed conflict. Members of this innovative research stream repeatedly called for inclusion of other independent and intervening variables such as poverty, political regime type, or cultural variables (Hagmann, 2005: 5, 10).

The literature on environmentally induced conflict has produced contested empirical and theoretical conclusions. Its core assumption that the environmental quantity and quality of a country or region can be causally linked to the presence or absence of conflict remains questionable. The concept of environmentally induced conflict has proved elusive. This elusiveness largely results from preconceived causalities, academic philosophies that combine eco-centric and anthropocentric conceptions, and the failure to provide an explicit explanation of agency in human-nature interactions. In addition, neo-Malthusian narratives with a predominant focus on scarcity disclose an overly simplistic conception of the multi-causality and complexity of violent conflict and of existing coping strategies. Lastly different types and intensities of violent conflict are intermingled and aggregated with disregard for regional specificities or qualitative differences in their manifestation (Hagmann, 2005: 20).


1.World Commission on Environment and Development, Our Common Future ( The Brundtland Report), New York\ London: Oxford University Press, 1987, p-290 [1]

[2] See, Stephan Libiszewski, What is an Environmental Conflict?, ENCOP Occasional Paper No. 1, (Zurich: Center for Security Studies).p-6

[3] Ibid.

There are many environmental issues in India. Air pollution, water pollution, garbage and pollution of the natural environment are all challenges for India. Nature is also causing some drastic effects on India. The situation was worse between 1947 through 1995. According to data collection and environment assessment studies of World Bank experts, between 1995 through 2010, India has made one of the fastest progress in the world, in addressing its environmental issues and improving its environmental quality.[1][2] Still, India has a long way to go to reach environmental quality similar to those enjoyed in developed economies. Pollution remains a major challenge and opportunity for India.

Environmental issues are one of the primary causes of disease, health issues and long term livelihood impact for India.

Law and policies[edit]

Main article: Environmental policy of India

British rule of India saw several laws related to environment. Amongst the earliest ones were Shore Nuisance (Bombay and Kolaba) Act of 1853 and the Oriental Gas Company Act of 1857. The Indian Penal Code of 1860, imposed a fine on anyone who voluntarily fouls the water of any public spring or reservoir. In addition, the Code penalised negligent acts. British India also enacted laws aimed at controlling air pollution. Prominent amongst these were the Bengal Smoke Nuisance Act of 1905 and the Bombay Smoke Nuisance Act of 1912. Whilst these laws failed in having the intended effect, British-enacted legislations pioneered the growth of environmental regulations in India.

Upon independence from Britain, India adopted a constitution and numerous British-enacted laws, without any specific constitutional provision on protecting the environment. India amended its constitution in 1976. Article 48(A) of Part IV of the amended constitution, read: The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country. Article 51 A(g) imposed additional environmental mandates on the Indian state.

Other Indian laws from recent history include the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1974, the Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980, and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1981. The Air Act was inspired by the decisions made at Stockholm Conference. The Bhopal gas tragedy triggered the Government of India to enact the Environment (Protection) Act of 1986. India has also enacted a set of Noise Pollution (Regulation & Control) Rules in 2000.

In 1985, Indian government created the Ministry of Environment and Forests. This ministry is the central administrative organisation in India for regulating and ensuring environmental protection.

Despite active passage of laws by the central government of India, the reality of environmental quality mostly worsened between 1947 and 1990. Rural poor had no choice, but to sustain life in whatever way possible. Air emissions increased, water pollution worsened, forest cover decreased.

Starting in the 1990s, reforms were introduced. Since then, for the first time in Indian history, major air pollutant concentrations have dropped in every 5-year period. Between 1992 and 2010, satellite data confirms India's forest coverage has increased for the first time by over 4 million hectares, a 7% increase.[3]

Possible causes[edit]

Some have cited economic development as the cause regarding the environmental issues. It is suggested that India's growing population is the primary cause of India's environmental degradation. Systematic studies challenge this theory. Empirical evidence from countries such as Japan, England and Singapore, each with population density similar to or higher than that of India, yet each enjoying environmental quality vastly superior to India's, suggests population density may not be the only factor affecting India's issues.[4]

Major issues[edit]

Major environmental issues are forest and agricultural degradation of land, resource depletion (such as water, mineral, forest, sand, and rocks), environmental degradation, public health, loss of biodiversity, loss of resilience in ecosystems, livelihood security for the poor.[5]

The major sources of pollution in India include the rapid burning of fuelwood and biomass such as dried waste from livestock as the primary source of energy, lack of organised garbage and waste removal services, lack of sewage treatment operations, lack of flood control and monsoon water drainage system, diversion of consumer waste into rivers, cremation practices near major rivers, government mandated protection of highly polluting old public transport, and continued operation by Indian government of government owned, high emission plants built between 1950 and 1980.[6][7][8][9][10]

Air pollution, poor management of waste, growing water scarcity, falling groundwater tables, water pollution, preservation and quality of forests, biodiversity loss, and land/soil degradation are some of the major environmental issues India faces today.[11]

India's population growth adds pressure to environmental issues and its resources. Rapid urbanization has caused a buildup of heavy metals in the soil of the city of Ghaziabad, and these metals are being ingested through contaminated vegetables. Heavy metals are hazardous to people's health and are known carcinogens.[12][13]

Population growth and environmental quality[edit]

There is a long history of study and debate about the interactions between population growth and the environment. According to a British thinker Malthus, for example, a growing population exerts pressure on agricultural land, causing environmental degradation, and forcing the cultivation of land of poorer as well as poorer quality. This environmental degradation ultimately reduces agricultural yields and food availability, famines and diseases and death, thereby reducing the rate of population growth.

Population growth, because it can place increased pressure on the assimilative capacity of the environment, is also seen as a major cause of air, water, and solid-waste pollution. The reslt, Malthus theorised, is an equilibrium population that enjoys low levels of both income and Environmental quality. Malthus suggested positive and preventative forced control of human population, along with abolition of poor laws.

Malthus theory, published between 1798 and 1826, has been analysed and criticised ever since. The American thinker Henry George, for example, observed with his characteristic piquancy in dismissing Malthus: "Both the jayhawk and the man eat chickens; but the more jayhawks, the fewer chickens, while the more men, the more chickens." Similarly, the American economist Julian Lincoln Simon criticised Malthus's theory.[14] He noted that the facts of human history have proven the predictions of Malthus and of the Neo-Malthusians to be flawed. Massive geometric population growth in the 20th century did not result in a Malthusian catastrophe. The possible reasons include: increase in human knowledge, rapid increases in productivity, innovation and application of knowledge, general improvements in farming methods (industrial agriculture), mechanisation of work (tractors), the introduction of high-yield varieties of wheat and other plants (Green Revolution), the use of pesticides to control crop pests.[15]

More recent scholarly articles concede that whilst there is no question that population growth may contribute to environmental degradation, its effects can be modified by economic growth and modern technology.[16] Research in environmental economics has uncovered a relationship between environmental quality, measured by ambient concentrations of air pollutants and per capita income. This so-called environmental Kuznets curve shows environmental quality worsening up until about $5,000 of per capita income on purchasing parity basis, and improving thereafter.[17] The key requirement, for this to be true, is continued adoption of technology and scientific management of resources, continued increases in productivity in every economic sector, entrepreneurial innovation and economic expansion.

Other data suggest that population density has little correlation to environmental quality and human quality of life. India's population density, in 2011, was about 368 human beings per square kilometre. Many countries with population density similar or higher than India enjoy environmental quality as well as human quality of life far superior than India. For example: Singapore (7148 /km2), Hong Kong (6349 /km2), South Korea (487 /km2), Netherlands (403 /km2), Belgium (355 / km2), England (395 /km2) and Japan (337/ km2).

Water pollution[edit]

Main article: Water pollution in India

India has major water pollution issues. Discharge of untreated sewage is the single most important cause for pollution of surface and ground water in India. There is a large gap between generation and treatment of domestic waste water in India. The problem is not only that India lacks sufficient treatment capacity but also that the sewage treatment plants that exist do not operate and are not maintained.[18] The majority of the government-owned sewage treatment plants remain closed most of the time due to improper design or poor maintenance or lack of reliable electricity supply to operate the plants, together with absentee employees and poor management. The waste water generated in these areas normally percolates in the soil or evaporates. The uncollected wastes accumulate in the urban areas cause unhygienic conditions and release pollutants that leaches to surface and groundwater.[18]

According to a World Health Organization study,[19] out of India's 3,119 towns and cities, just 209 have partial sewage treatment facilities, and only 8 have full wastewater treatment facilities. Over 100 Indian cities dump untreated sewage directly into the Ganges River.[20] Investment is needed to bridge the gap between 29000 million litre per day of sewage India generates, and a treatment capacity of mere 6000 million litre per day.[21]

Other sources of water pollution include agriculture run off and small scale factories along the rivers and lakes of India. Fertilizers and pesticides used in agriculture in northwest have been found in rivers, lakes and ground water.[22] Flooding during monsoons worsens India's water pollution problem, as it washes and moves all sorts of solid garbage and contaminated soils into its rivers and wetlands.

Water resources[edit]

According to NASA groundwater declines are highest on Earth between 2002 and 2008 in northern India. Agricultural productivity is dependent on irrigation. A collapse of agricultural output and severe shortages of potable water may influence 114 million residents in India. In July 2012, about 670 million people or 10% of the world’s population lost power blame on the severe drought restricting the power delivered by hydroelectric dams.[23]

Air pollution[edit]

Main article: Air pollution in India

Air pollution in India is a serious issue with the major sources being fuelwood and biomass burning, fuel adulteration, vehicle emission and traffic congestion. Air pollution is also the main cause of the Asian brown cloud, which is causing the monsoon to be delayed. India is the world's largest consumer of fuelwood, agricultural waste and biomass for energy purposes. Traditional fuel (fuelwood, crop residue and dung cake) dominates domestic energy use in rural India and accounts for about 90% of the total. In urban areas, this traditional fuel constitutes about 24% of the total. Fuel wood, agri waste and biomass cake burning releases over 165 million tonnes of combustion products into India's indoor and outdoor air every year.[24][25] These biomass-based household stoves in India are also a leading source of greenhouse emissions contributing to climate change.[26]

The annual crop burning practice in northwest India, north India and eastern Pakistan, after monsoons, from October to December, are a major seasonal source of air pollution. Approximately 500 million tons of crop residue is burnt in open, releasing smoke, soot, NOx, SOx, PAHs and particulate matter into the air. This burning has been found to be a leading cause of smog and haze problems through the winter over Punjab, cities such as Delhi, and major population centers along the rivers through West Bengal.[27][28][29] In other states of India, rice straw and other crop residue burning in open is a major source of air pollution.[30]

Vehicle emissions are another source of air pollution. Vehicle emissions are worsened by fuel adulteration and poor fuel combustion efficiencies from traffic congestion and low density of quality, high speed road network per 1000 people.[31][32][33]

On per capita basis, India is a small emitter of carbon dioxide greenhouse. In 2009, IEA estimates that it emitted about 1.4 tons of gas per person, in comparison to the United States’ 17 tons per person, and a world average of 5.3 tons per person. However, India was the third largest emitter of total carbon dioxide in 2009 at 1.65 Gt per year, after China (6.9 Gt per year) and the United States (5.2 Gt per year). With 17 percent of world population, India contributed some 5 percent of human-sourced carbon dioxide emission; compared to China's 24 percent share.[34][35]

The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act was passed in 1981 to regulate air pollution and there have been some measurable improvements.[36] However, the 2012 Environmental Performance Index ranked India as having the poorest relative air quality out of 132 countries.[37]

Solid waste pollution[edit]

See also: Solid waste policy in India

Trash and garbage is a common sight in urban and rural areas of India. It is a major source of pollution. Indian cities alone generate more than 100 million tons of solid waste a year. Street corners are piled with trash. Public places and sidewalks are despoiled with filth and litter, rivers and canals act as garbage dumps. In part, India's garbage crisis is from rising constion. India's waste problem also points to a stunning failure of governance.[7] The tourism regions in the country mainly hill stations are also facing this issue in the recent years.[38]

In 2000, India's Supreme Court directed all Indian cities to implement a comprehensive waste-management programme that would include household collection of segregated waste, recycling and composting. These directions have simply been ignored. No major city runs a comprehensive programme of the kind envisioned by the Supreme Court.

Indeed, forget waste segregation and recycling directive of the India's Supreme Court, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates that up to 40 percent of municipal waste in India remains simply uncollected. Even medical waste, theoretically controlled by stringent rules that require hospitals to operate incinerators, is routinely dumped with regular municipal garbage. A recent study found that about half of India's medical waste is improperly disposed of.

Municipalities in Indian cities and towns have waste collection employees. However, these are unionised government workers and their work performance is neither measured nor monitored.

Some of the few solid waste landfills India has, near its major cities, are overflowing and poorly managed. They have become significant sources of greenhouse emissions and breeding sites for disease vectors such as flies, mosquitoes, cockroaches, rats, and other pests.[39]

In 2011, several Indian cities embarked on waste-to-energy projects of the type in use in Germany, Switzerland and Japan.[40] For example, New Delhi is implementing two incinerator projects aimed at turning the city’s trash problem into electricity resource. These plants are being welcomed for addressing the city’s chronic problems of excess untreated waste and a shortage of electric power. They are also being welcomed by those who seek to prevent water pollution, hygiene problems, and eliminate rotting trash that produces potent greenhouse gas methane. The projects are being opposed by waste collection workers and local unions who fear changing technology may deprive them of their livelihood and way of life.[41]

Noise pollution[edit]

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it.(March 2009)

Noise pollution or noise disturbance is the disturbing or excessive noise that may harm the activity or balance of human or animal life. Noise-wise India can be termed as the most polluted country in the world.[42] The source of most outdoor noise worldwide is mainly caused by machines and transportation systems, motor vehicles, aircraft, and trains.[1][2] In India the outdoor noise is also caused by loud music during festival seasons.Outdoor noise is summarized by the word environmental noise. Poor urban planning may give rise to noise pollution, since side-by-side industrial and residential buildings can result in noise pollution in the residential areas.

Indoor noise can be caused by machines, building activities, and music performances, especially in some workplaces. Noise-induced hearing loss can be caused by outside (e.g. trains) or inside (e.g. music) noise.

High noise levels can contribute to cardiovascular effects in humans and an increased incidence of coronary artery disease.[43] In animals, noise can increase the risk of death by altering predator or prey detection and avoidance, interfere with reproduction and navigation, and contribute to permanent hearing loss.

The Supreme Court of India which is in New Delhi gave a significant verdict on noise pollution in 2005.[44] Unnecessary honking of vehicles makes for a high decibel level of noise in cities. The use of loudspeakers for political purposes and for sermons by temples and mosques makes noise pollution in residential areas worse.

In January 2010, Government of India published norms of permissible noise levels in urban and rural areas.[45]

Land or Soil pollution[edit]

In March 2009, the issue of Uranium poisoning in Punjab attracted press coverage. It was alleged to be caused by fly ash ponds of thermal power stations, which reportedly lead to severe birth defects in children in the Faridkot and Bhatinda districts of Punjab. The news reports claimed the uranium levels were more than 60 times the maximum safe limit.[46][47] In 2012, the Government of India confirmed[48] that the ground water in Malwa belt of Punjab has uranium metal that is 50% above the trace limits set by the United Nations' World Health Organization. Scientific studies, based on over 1000 samples from various sampling points, could not trace the source to fly ash and any sources from thermal power plants or industry as originally alleged. The study also revealed that the uranium concentration in ground water of Malwa district is not 60 times the WHO limits, but only 50% above the WHO limit in 3 locations. This highest concentration found in samples was less than those found naturally in ground waters currently used for human purposes elsewhere, such as Finland.[49] Research is underway to identify natural or other sources for the uranium.

Greenhouse gas emissions[edit]

India was the third largest emitter of carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, in 2009 at 1.65 Gt per year, after China and the United States . With 17 percent of world population, India contributed some 5 percent of human-sourced carbon dioxide emission; compared to China's 24 percent share. On per capita basis, India emitted about 1.4 tons of carbon dioxide per person, in comparison to the United States’ 17 tons per person, and a world average of 5.3 tons per person.

See also[edit]


  1. ^The Little Green Data Book, The World Bank, 2010 
  2. ^Environment Assessment, Country Data: India, The World Bank, 2011 
  3. ^"Global Forest Resources Assessment 2010"(PDF). FAO. 2011. 
  4. ^Henrik Urdal (July 2005). "People vs. Malthus: Population Pressure, Environmental Degradation, and Armed Conflict Revisited". Journal of Peace Research. 42 (4): 417–434. doi:10.1177/0022343305054089. 
  5. ^Environmental Issues, Law and Technology – An Indian Perspective. Ramesha Chandrappa and Ravi.D.R, Research India Publication, Delhi, 2009, ISBN 978-81-904362-5-0
  6. ^Milind Kandlikar, Gurumurthy Ramachandran (2000). "2000: India: THE CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES OF PARTICULATE AIR POLLUTION IN URBAN INDIA: A Synthesis of the Science". Annual Review of Energy and the Environment. 25: 629–684. doi:10.1146/annurev.energy.25.1.629. 
  7. ^ ab"Drowning in a Sea of Garbage". The New York Times. 22 April 2010. 
  8. ^Steve karthik kjournal=International Journal of Environmental Health Research; Tripathi, Anshuman; Mishra, Rajesh Kumar; Bouskill, Nik; Broadaway, Susan C.; Pyle, Barry H.; Ford, Timothy E.; et al. (2006). "The role of water use patterns and sewage pollution in incidence of water-borne/enteric diseases along the Ganges river in Varanasi, India". 16 (2): 113–132. doi:10.1080/09603120500538226. PMID 16546805. 
  9. ^Klement Tockner and Jack A. Stanford (2002). "Riverine flood plains: present state and future trends". Environmental Conservation. 29 (3): 308–330. doi:10.1017/S037689290200022X. 
  10. ^Sushil and Batra; Batra, V (December 2006). "Analysis of fly ash heavy metal content and disposal in three thermal power plants in India". Fuel. 85 (17–18): 2676–2679. doi:10.1016/j.fuel.2006.04.031. 
  11. ^"India: Country Strategy paper, 2007–2013"(PDF). European External Action Service, European Union. 2007. 
  12. ^Chabukdhara, Mayuri; Munjal, Amit; Nema, Arvind K.; Gupta, Sanjay K.; Kaushal, Rajendra Kumar (2016-04-02). "Heavy metal contamination in vegetables grown around peri-urban and urban-industrial clusters in Ghaziabad, India". Human and Ecological Risk Assessment: An International Journal. 22 (3): 736–752. doi:10.1080/10807039.2015.1105723. ISSN 1080-7039. 
  13. ^Chabukdhara, Mayuri; Nema, Arvind K. (2013-01-01). "Heavy metals assessment in urban soil around industrial clusters in Ghaziabad, India: probabilistic health risk approach". Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety. 87: 57–64. doi:10.1016/j.ecoenv.2012.08.032. ISSN 1090-2414. PMID 23116622. 
  14. ^Simon J.L. 1981. The ultimate resource; and 1992 The ultimate resource II.
  15. ^Antony Trewavas: "Malthus foiled again and again", in Nature 418, 668–670 (8 August 2002), retrieved 28 December 2008
  16. ^Maureen Cropper; Charles Griffiths (May 1994). "The Interaction of Population Growth and Environmental Quality"(PDF). The American Economic Review. 84 (2): 250–254. Archived from the original(PDF) on 24 April 2012. 
  17. ^Selden Thomas M. and Song Daqing (1994). "Environmental Quality and Development: Is There a Kuznets Curve for Air Pollution Emissions?"(PDF). Journal of Environmental Economics and Management. 27 (2): 147–162. doi:10.1006/jeem.1994.1031. 
  18. ^ ab"Evaluation Of Operation And Maintenance Of Sewage Treatment Plants In India-2007"(PDF). CENTRAL POLLUTION CONTROL BOARD, Ministry of Environment & Forests. 2008. 
  19. ^World Health Organization (1992), Our Planet, our Health: Report of the WHO Commission on Health and Environment, Geneva
  20. ^National Geographic Society. 1995. Water: A Story of Hope. Washington (DC): National Geographic Society
  21. ^"Status of Sewage Treatment in India"(PDF). Central Pollution Control Board, Ministry of Environment & Forests, Govt of India. 2005. 
  22. ^"Buddha Nullah the toxic vein of Malwa". Indian Express. 21 May 2008. Archived from the original on 5 October 2012. 
  23. ^Decade of drought: a global tour of seven recent water crises Guardian 12.6.2015
  24. ^Ganguly; et al. (2001). "INDOOR AIR POLLUTION IN INDIA – A MAJOR ENVIRONMENTAL AND PUBLIC HEALTH CONCERN"(PDF). Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi. 
  25. ^David Pennise and Kirk Smith. "Biomass Pollution Basics"(PDF). The World Health Organisation. 
  26. ^Kirk Smith et al., Greenhouse Implications of Household Stoves: An Analysis for India, Annual Review of Energy and the Environment, Vol. 25: pp 741-763
  27. ^Fires in Northwest India NASA, US Government (2008)
  28. ^Tina Adler, RESPIRATORY HEALTH: Measuring the Health Effects of Crop Burning, Environ Health Perspect. 2010 November; 118(11), A475
  29. ^Streets et al. (2003), Biomass burning in Asia: Annual and seasonal estimates and atmospheric emissions, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 17(4)
  30. ^Gadde et al., Air pollutant emissions from rice straw open field burning in India, Thailand and the Philippines, Environmental Pollution, Volume 157, Issue 5, May 2009, Pages 1554–1558
  31. ^"The Asian Brown Cloud: Climate and Other Environmental Impacts"(PDF). United Nations Environmental Programme. 2002. Archived from the original(PDF) on 26 May 2012. 
  32. ^"Urban Air Pollution, Catching gasoline ad diesel adulteration"(PDF). The World Bank. 2002. 
  33. ^"Gridlocked Delhi: six years of career lost in traffic jams". India Today. 5 September 2010. 
  34. ^"CO2 EMISSIONS FROM FUEL COMBUSTION HIGHLIGHTS, 2011 Edition"(PDF). International Energy Agency, France. 2011. 
  35. ^"Country Analysis Brief: India". U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2011. 
  36. ^"Emissions and Pollution in South Asia". The World Bank. 2010. Archived from the original on 12 April 2011. 
  37. ^"Data Explorer :: Indicator Profiles – Environmental Performance Index". Yale University. 2012. Archived from the original on 12 December 2012. Retrieved 5 September 2012. 
  38. ^Kumar, S., Dhar, H, Nair, V. V., Bhattacharya, J. K., Vaidya, A. N. and Akolkar, A. B. (2016). Characterization of municipal solid waste in high altitude sub-tropical regions. Environmental Technology 37 (20), 2627 – 2637. doi: 10.1080/09593330.2016.1158322
  39. ^"India: Urbanisation, sustainable development and poverty alleviation, INTL 442"(PDF). University of Oregon, USA. Spring 2010. Archived from the original(PDF) on 8 May 2013. 
  40. ^"What is waste to energy?". Confederation of European Waste-to-Energy Plants. 2010. Archived from the original on 22 January 2012. 
  41. ^"Indian waste workers fear loss of income from trash-to-electricity projects". The Washington Post. 20 November 2011. 
  42. ^Freedom from noise pollution will be true independence
  43. ^[1]
  44. ^"Noise Pollution Restricting use of loudspeakers, Court: Supreme Court of India, Justices: Lahoti and Bhan". ECOLEX. 18 July 2005. 
  46. ^Yadav, Priya (2 April 2009). "Uranium deforms kids in Faridkot". The Times of India. 
  47. ^Jolly, Asit (2 April 2009). "Punjab disability 'uranium link'". BBC News. 
  48. ^Uranium in Ground Water Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Government of India (2012)
  49. ^Atomic Energy Report - Malwa Punjab Uranium Q&A Lok Sabha, Government of India (2012)

Further reading[edit]

  • Compendium of Environment Statistics India 2013, Annual Report and Data, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Central Statistical Organisation, Government of India, New Delhi.
  • Compendium of Environment Statistics India 2011, Annual Report and Data, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Central Statistical Organisation, Government of India, New Delhi.
  • India, Diagnostic Assessment of Select Environmental Challenges The World Bank, 2013
  • 2010–2011 Annual Report of India's Ministry of Environment & Forests – Policies and Priorities, 2011
  • Unite for Children – UNICEF's Soap Stories and Toilet Tales Report, 2010
  • India: Total Sanitation Campaign; a UNICEF Case Study, 2010
  • National Environment Policy of India, 2006
  • Inheriting the World: The Atlas of Children’s Health and the Environment, 2004
  • The Asian Brown Cloud: Climate and Other Environmental Impacts, 2002
  • Mahesh Prasad Singh; J.K. Singh; Reena Mohanka (1 January 2007). Forest Environment and Biodiversity. Daya Publishing House. ISBN 978-81-7035-421-5. 

External links[edit]

A satellite picture, taken in 2004, shows thick haze and smoke along the Ganges Basin in northern India. Major sources of aerosols in this area are believed to be smoke from biomass burning in the northwest part of India, and air pollution from large cities in northern India. Dust from deserts in Pakistan and the Middle East may also contribute to the mix of aerosols.
Floods are a significant environmental issue for India. It causes soil erosion, destruction of wetlands and wide migration of solid wastes.
Public dumping of rubbish alongside a road in Kolkata.
A rural stove using biomass cakes, fuelwood and trash as cooking fuel. Surveys suggest over 100 million households in India use such stoves (chullahs) every day, 2–3 times a day. It is a major source of air pollution in India, and produces smoke and numerous indoor air pollutants at concentrations 5 times higher than coal. Clean burning fuels and electricity are unavailable in rural parts and small towns of India because of poor rural highways and limited energy generation infrastructure.
Trash and garbage disposal services, responsibility of local government workers in India, are ineffective. Solid waste is routinely seen along India's streets and shopping plazas. Image shows solid waste pollution along a Jaipur street, a 2011 image.
Waste collection truck in Ahmedabad, Gujurat
Greater adjutant perched on a pile of trash and solid waste in Assam.

0 thoughts on “Environment Degradation In Indian Essayist

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *