Environment vs. Development


Development and Environment are inclusive. Environment is typically the place around us where we reside in order to make a living and get ourselves adapted to the surroundings and their variations. Inclusive Development is not possible without adequate emphasis on environmental protection. Ambitious mission of making India $5 Trillion Economy 2025 and Clean India Green India Mission are going on simultaneously in the country. Development and environment needs to be seen as complementary, not antagonistic terms. After all, if there is no Earth left, where will development take place?! Soon the precious limited resources will be exhausted if we do not focus on sustainability.

  • Nearly 17,000 grown trees will be chopped off for redevelopment of central government accommodations in south Delhi.
  • Between 2008 and 2017, nearly 20,000 thousand trees have been cut in Bengaluru to make way for flyovers, road widening and other projects.

Different parts of India have been affected by heavy rains and floods this year from June to September. Deforestation also plays a major role in flooding because it makes trees unable to hold soils anymore which prevents sediment run-offs. Trees in forest convincingly hold water more than farms or grasslands. So, the release of sediment due to deforestation has a larger impact on the flood.

This matter is of paramount relevance in a developing economy like ours, as environment degradation drastically offsets improvements achieved by economic prosperity, apart from having serious implications as per the government norms like Ten saplings have to be substituted for every tree cut, as per guidelines by the Forest Department but no agency or body has been put into place to supervise whether this commitment is fulfilled.

In my view, environmental governance in India is poor not because of laws but their pathetic implementation. There are multiple authorities for environmental management but there is very poor coordination among them. Development policies give more priority to income and employment generation, than to implementation of pollution control policies. The current GDP estimates do not account for the gains/losses in natural capital. Identifying and quantifying the ecosystem services for the purpose of damage assessment is a difficult task in the absence of relevant data. Health challenges, increase in income inequality, increased pollution and a depletion of natural resources. Evidences for this has been given by an International Database Environmental Justice Atlas which recently published that India has more environmental conflicts than any other country.

As we see, Development and environment are two sides of the same coin. We are concerned about the environment as the major issues like global warming, greenhouse effect, air and water pollution are increasing each day but at the same time to eradicate poverty and increase growth in the economy, development is mandatory. Without economic development a nation cannot come out of the vicious circle of poverty. There is a dire need of establishing a balance between economic advancement and consumption of natural resources. Development without environment is meaningless. We need to save our resources for our future generations; it can be accomplished by understanding the concept of Sustainable Development.

Now the time has indeed come that we should add “swachh paani” and “hawa” to the “roti kapada-makaan-aur-bijli”, transition to economic growth coupled with efficiency in natural resource use and its conservation will definitely help India to achieve its future aspirations $5 Trillion Economy and Clean India as well.