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The environment must not be considered as just another sector of national development. It should form a crucial guiding dimension lor Plans and programmes in each sector. This becomes clear only if the concern for environmental protection is understood in its proper context.
20.2 Environmental problems in India can be classified into two broad categories.
The first category has to do with the impact on the health and integrity of our natural resources (land, soil, water, forests, wildlife, etc.) as a result of poverty and the inadequate availability, for a large section of our population, of the means to fullii basic human needs (food, fuel, shelter, employment, etc.). The second category has to do with the unintended side effects of efforts to achieve rapid economic growth and development. In this latter category would fall the distortions imposed on national resources from poorly planned development projects and programmes, as well as from lack of attention to long term concerns by commercial and vested interests. Thus it is clear that a concern for environment is essentially a desire to see that national development proceeds along rational sustainable lines. Environmental conservation is, in fact, the very basis of all development.
NATURAL RESOURCES AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Land and Water
20.3 It is important to appreciate the inextricably close relationship between land and water management. Water, which is a renewable resource, can in fact be put to good use only if the land on wnich it falls, and the land to which it is applied, are properly cared for. Land, which is for all purposes a non-renewable and inelastic resource, must be managed in such a manner as to be benefited rather than suffer damage as a result of its contact with water. _ The key to environmental quality, therefore, lies in scientific land and water management above all else.
20.4 We have paid a good deal of attention to harnessing our resources by way of construction of major, medium and minor irrigation projects and tlie development of ground water resources. Adequate organisations have also been built up in this field in ths shape of Central and State Irrigation Departments, the Central Water Commission and the Central Ground Water Board. However, very little attention has been paid to the proper management of ou'r land and soil resources with the result that they have suffered very serious degradation.
20.5 According to estimates made by the Ministry of Agriculture in March 1980 as much as 175 million hectares (mh) out of the country's total land area of 304 mh for which records exist, are subject to environmental problems. The break-up is at Table 20.1.
Table 20.1 Land Areas with Environmental Problems
20.6 The losses which the country is bearing on account of the continuing degradation of its land resources are of staggering dimensions and constitute one of the important threats to our economic progress.
20.7 Iiii a study made in 1972, it was estimated that on an average, India was losing about 6000 million tonnes of lop soil per annum through water erosion and that these represented, in term of major nutrients NPK alone, an annual loss of Rs. 700 crores. The corresponding loss today must be of a much higher order, considering the increase which has since taken place not only in prices of fertilisers but also in the extent and intensity of erosion.
20.8 Again, according to the Reporter of ihe National Commission on Floods (lh80) the losses on account of floods in 1976, 1977 and 1978 were Rs. 889 crores, Rs. 1200 crores and Rs. 1091 crores respectively, which represent an average of over Rs. 1000 crores per year. According to the same source the total area subject to periodic Hoods which was estimated at 20 million hectares in 1971 now stands at the level of 40 million hectaresan increase of 100 per cent in 10 years.
20.9 Soil erosion also causes the premature silta-tion of tanks and reservoirs. It is dilhcult to quantify such losses but there can be no doubt that they are significant, considering that our investment on such projects is of the order of Rs. 10,000 crores. In the case of the big multi-purposes projects, what is at stake is not merely irrigation potential. The threat is of 'particular seriousness because in most cases alternative sites for storages are just not available even if we can find tile large sums of money needed to build new reservoirs in place of those which go out of commission. The choking of estuaries and harbours will be another kind of adverse impact of eroded soil carried to the sea.
20.10 The colossal damage done by the denudation of the Himalayan and other watersheds to our water resources also needs to be properly appreciated. Since the run-off of rainwater from denuded areas is far greater than from well-wooded slopes, a great deal of the water which would otherwise have been retained as sub-soil and ground water is today being lost as surface run-off often causing further erosion and floods in the process. The seriousness of such losses can hardly be over-estimated.
20.11 It also needs to be remembered that fully recharged ground water acquifers play a most significant part in moderating river flows by contributing to river discharges during the lean season, poor land management thus aggravates the problems of drought and floods.
20.12 The extent of forest cover is a good indicator of the health of the land. The large scale deforestation in recent decades has rendered the sensitive catchment areas in the Himalaya and other hilly areas particularly vulnerable to soil erosion. The Paucity of indin's forest cover is apparent from the fact that ol Me 75 million hectares classed as forest lands, less than half is actually under adequate tree cover, and as much as about 20 million hectares of forest land is estimated to be affected by erosion. No more than about 12 per cent of the country's land surface is actually under adequate tree cover as against the target of 33 per cent prescribed by the National Forest Policy of 1952. Further, although 13 million hectares are classed as "permanent Pastures", these areas are in fact generally without any vegetation on account of either overgrazing or encroachments.
20.13 Mention must also be made of the damage caused to our agricultural lands in canal irrigated areas by waterlogging and consequent salimsation on account of o"r failure to provide them with adequate drainage, it is estimated tnat about 6 million Hectares of good lands are affected by varying degrees ox saliiniy. Waterlogging is also caused by obstructions to naiupcil drainage caused by road, rail, canal and nood control embankments which are not adequately provided with cross-drainage works. As waterlogging is second only to erosion as a threat to the soil, it is of the utmost importance that effective steps are taken to provide drainage and other appropriate ameliorative measures.
20.14 The country can hope to achieve a coun-tinous improvement in agricultural productivity only if problems of land degradation are tackled with the utmost vigour. Such an effort, though gigantic by aay standards, is, however, inescapable if tne country's agricultural future is to be assured. Considering that even if all possible steps are initiated immediately, it will be years before results begin to 'show, and that further massive damage will unavoidably continue during this period, there is absolutely no room -ior complacency on this front.
Other Natural Living Resources
20.15 India is endowed with an immense variety of natural living resources in its rich animal and plant heritage, which sustains millions of its people. While the maintenance of the country's basic biological productivity through proper land and water management is of vital ecological concern, the preservation of its genetic diversity and conservation of its species and ecosystems for sustainable utilization is of crucial importance for the future survival and development of our people.
20.16 Disappearing Species and Ecosystems under the relentless pressures of an exploding population, however, and unplanned development of natural environments, the habitats of our species are being rapidly lost or modified. Ii is estimated that, worldwide, slightly over 1,000 animal species and subspecies known to science are threatened with an extinction rate of one per year, while 20,000 flowering plants are thought to be at risk. The World's stock of all species is now estimated at 10 million of which 8.5 million have still to be identified. In India, five species ol mammals and birds are known to have become extinct in the recent past while 103 such species are listed as endangered under the wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. At the present inadequate level of scientific knowledge in our country, we dp not know hdw mapy species of flora and fauna are threatened, endangeied or extinct, but the number must be considerable, in view of the very rapid shrinkage of all natural forests and other ecosystems througnout the sub-coutmeni in recent years. The extermination of a unique, unstudied organism or ecosystem involves an irreversible loss to science and sometimes, even a valuable potential resource. For example, tropical rainforests are considered to contain more species than any other biome, estimated at 2 to 5 million species, but most of these have already been lost or are grossly disrupted in the Western Uhats while in the north-eastern region they have been extensively destroyed through a faster cycle of shifting cultivation. No National Park has unfortunately yet been constituted specifically for the preservation of the plant and animal diversity of the tropical rainforest ecosystems of our country.
20.17 Conservation of Genetic Resources and Natural Ecosystems: With the introduction of scientific plant and animal Oreeding in recent decades, the inestimable value of a number of wild and unutilised relatives of domesticated plants and animals had been recognised. India abounds in such wild and semi-wild relatives whose value is still unknown and they remain untapped resources. The rich variety of citrus, the species to which oranges, limes and lemons belong, in the liills of north-east India, is an example of one such resource. Other species, which are not directly exploited by man, have contributed to his success in evolving high-yielding varieties by serving as model experimental organisms. It is, therefore, evident that the diversity of biological organisms is a vital resource which needs to be carefully protected in natural ecosystems if we are not to close many possible evolutionary options for benefiting future generations. These natural ecosystems are perse a vitally important economic resource. They can serve as design models of how artificial ecosystems can be constructed to maximise the productivity of land. They serve as reservoirs of material for improving our managed ecosystems. For example, some primitive varieties of rice collected from Kerala and Mizoram have been found to be donors of genes for resistance to a serious rice pest, the brown plant hopper, which some years ago devastated the high-yielding dwarf varieties of rice in South-East Asia that were susceptible to it. Such varieties are now being widely used internaiionally and may have done more for the continued productivity of the rice crop than almost any other finding in its improvement history during the last decade. The north-eastern region of India is an important source of valuable genes -in several agricultural and horticultural crops.
20.18 The natural ecosystems may represent our only hope for finding the basic material for restoring the health of completely devastated landscapes such as much of the Himalayan hill slopes. The forests under management have, moreover, been treated from the very narrow viewpoint of production of commercial timber and pulpwood so that they have been nipidly converted to stands of teak, pine or eucalyptus with no thought given for even the maintenance of species producing valuable minor forest produce such as oilsecds. Our wildlife conservation efforts have so far been primarily directed to the maintenance of areas with one or more spectacular animals such as the tiger or the rhino. This has led to a total neglect of many other ecosystems which lack such spec-tucular animals but are rich in rioristic reserves.
20.19 There is inadequate knowledge and understanding of the country's valuable marine ecosystems, and total absence of protective measures has led to wanton exploitation and destruction of these resources.
(a) The coral reefs, rich in limestone, have been thoughf-lessely plundered for the manufacture of cement in the Gulf of Mannar (Tamil Nadu) and in the Pirotan Islands (Gujarat), and threatened hi Lak-shadweep and in the Andaman Islands. thus exposing the coastal areas to sea erosion. These rare and unique ecosystems need urgent pro:ection as Marine Reserves.
(b) Similarly, our coastal mangroves constitute extraordinarily rich ecosystems, which contain many unique species adapted to the unusual habitat and are also key nursery areas for many species of fish and crustaceans which need protection. These mangroves, which form a vital protection against cyclone damage, have already been lost from most of our coastal areas, and now deserve full- protection where they still exist in viable area in the Sundarbans (West Bengal), Bhitarkanika Sanctuary (Orissa), Coringa Sanctuary (Andhra Pradesh) and in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
(c) Marine Reserves need to be designated for the protection and scientific management of such endangered marine species as the Cetaceans (which include the whales and porpoises), ihe Dugong or sea-cows, and the sea-turtles of which five of the World's seven species occur in India.
(d) Some of the Island ecosystems of the Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshdweep groups are very rich and delicately balanced but vulnerable to intrusions. These islands need to be scientifically surveyed and protected in appropriate reserves under technical management.
20.20 Necessity for Constituting Biosphere Reserves: It will be evident from what has been stated in the preceding paragraphs that there is a compelling conservation need to set aside sufficient representative examples of biotic provinces to extend protection to entire community of species in viable terrestrial and marine eco-systems to be designed as Biosphere Reserves. The concept of such Reserves was evolved under UNESCO's Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme with the following objectives:
(a) To save for the present and future human use the diversity and integrity ot biotic communities of plants and animals within natural ecosystems, and to safeguard the genetic diversity 01 species on which their continuing evolution depends.
(b) To provide areas for ecological and environmental research including, particularly, baseline studies, both witmn and adjacent to those reserves, such research to be consistent with objective (.a) above.
(c) To provide facilities for education and training. The biosphere Reserves should comprise not only completely natural ecosystems but also semi-natural established land-use practices. Among such reserves, areas that have outstanding potential tor restoration to natural conditions, should also be included. Biosphere Reserves are not meant to substitute established national parks and sanctuaries but may often coincide partly with our national parks and sanctuaries.
20.21 While 19 National Parks and 202 wildlife Sanctuaries have been set up in the country covering an area of 75,763 sq. kms. (.representing 2.3 per cent pf the geographical area), most of these inadequately cov and r the ecological diversity of threatened habitats or even the endangered species of the country and most of them suffer from lack of scientific or any other kind of effective management. The first step, therefore, towards the preservation of the biological diversity of our country would require a detailed survey and classification of the conservation and ecosystem types to ensure the conservation of as many representative examples of each as possible. In view of the virtual disappearance of many genuinely natural ecosystems in the country, those that remain in such natural or near-natural condition need to be identified for full protection as Biosphere Reserves with the greatest urgency. Other man-modified ecosystems, which retain their natural diversity should also be protected. Such Biosphere Reserves can be thought of as national laboratories in which the functioning of natural and man-modified ecosystems will be investigated to ensure the optimum use of our biological wealth for the future welfare of our people.
20.22 Pollution refers essentially to a process by which a resource (natural or man-made) is rendered unfit for some beneficial use due to physical, chemical or biological factors. Of the various kinds of pollution (air, water, land, noise, radiation and odour) that affect the quality of life in India, water pollution is by far the most serious in its implications for the health and well-being of our citizens.
The 14 major rivers in India carry, among tnemselves, 85 per cent or the
sunace run ofl, cover 83 per cent 01 me country within their drainage
oasins and house about 80 per cent ot the population in their basin area.
Together with other medium and minor rivers, lakes, tan
20.24 Investigations by the Central and State Boards for the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution show that the major sources of pollution of our natural water courses including coastal waters are the discharge of community wastes from human settlements. Most of the community and industrial waste waters go straight into water courses rendering them unfit for most uses, least of all as drinking water sources. According to the Central Board for Water Pollution only 8 cities in India are provided with complete sewerage and sewage treatment facilities. They are Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Bijapur, Sangli, Nanded, Nasik, Thana and Diiigapur. In a report* on a detailed study of the seriousness of water pollution in the Yamuna caused by the discharge of Delhi's waste, the Board states:
is depicted in this report is a replica of what may be seen at Ludhiana
in Punjab, Sri-naaar in Jammu and Kashmir, Varanasi in UP, Patna in Bihar,
Calcutta in West Bengal, Gauhati in Assam, Cuttack in Orissa, Visakhapatnant
2025 The Water Pollution Boards in the Central and States have not yet been given adequate support to tackle these massive problems. Far greater priority than hitherto must be given to this special sector.
20.26 Air Pollution is usually associated with industrial growth and urbanisation. However, in many towns and cities of India domestic sources which burn coal, Annual Report 1978-79, Central Board for the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution.
"Control of Urban Pollution Series, CUPS/1/78/79, Union Territory of Delhi, Central Board for the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution.
cowdung, firewood or trash can be a significant source of pollution, particulprly under conditions of stagnapt air in winter montrs. Fortunately, Indian coal is low in sulphur content, the number of automobiles is relatively small and the rainy season is an effective scrubber for mitigating air pollution. Despite these advantages, problems of air pollution are becoming severe in major cities like Calcutta, Bombay and Delhi. A high background dust level during certain times of the year aggravates the problem. Studies conducted by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) confirm that levels of sulphur dioxide and paniculate matter in certain major cities exceed permissible limits set by organisations like WHO. The high incidence of problems such as asthma, bronchitis, cough, breathlessness, sneezing and nasal blocks among people living in the Chembur area in Bombay is attributed to constant exposure to the high levels of air pollutants. Studies by the Banaras Hindu University and the Tamil Nadu Agriculture University have established the adverse impact of industrial and transportation emissions on crop productivity. Fears have been expressed about the effect of power plant and refinery emissions on targets ranging from human lungs to ancient monuments. With the Air Pollution Control Legislation soon to be enacted a strong and well-equipped enforcement authority will be required if the problem is to be checked in its relatively early stages.
20.27 Pollution of Land results largely from the insanitary disposal of solid wastes. In India open dumping of such wastes Cot municipal and industrial origin) oh low lying land Is a common phenomenon. This serves as a breeding ground for pests and disease carrying vectors.
20.28 Noise in our major cities and towns is a erowing menace. Studies by the National physical Laboratory, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the National Institute of Occupational Health, and the Madras Medical College have indicated the growing threat to our physiological and mental well-being from community noise (religious and cultural) traffic noise, and noise in the occupational environment. While there are disparate bits of legislation (municipal bye-laws) that attempt to control noise, these have proved inadequate and there is now a clear need for a comprehensive legislation to curb noise pollution.
20.29 Among large sections of our population there is an inadequate perception of the extent of, and potential hazards from, pollution problems in India. This sometimes leads to statements about pollution being primarily a problem of the advanced nations and therefore of W consequence to India. Such trends must be countered vigorously through appropriate methods of environmental education before the magnitude of our response to the challenge of pollution in India can bear a reasonable relationship to what is warranted by its actual dimensions.
Human Settlements and the Environment
20.30 It is within the framework of human settlements (both rural and urban) that the basic human needs for our vast population must be provided in a manner that does not irreversibly damage our natural environment and cultural heritage. We have more than 5.79,000 human settlements (1971 census) of which nearly 3,000 are urban. More than three fourths of our population lives in rural settlements.
20.31 Rural life styles have dose links with nature and its resources. Thus the environmental problems that manifest in rural areas are largely due to over-use or misuse of natural resources mostly because of sheer poverty and lack of alternatives. The denundation of vegetative cover due to indiscriminate collection for firewood, and the over-grazing by cattle and other livestock and consequent soil erosion are two common examples of the impoverishment of environmental resources. Again, the non-availability of systems for disposal of community wastes in rural areas has led to the contamination of water courses and creation of insanitary living conditions. This, in turn, has had major impacts on the health of the population especially where unprotected sources of water have, of necessity to be used by the rural population. Despite all efforts so far about 2 lakh villages with a population of some 160 million are yet to be provided with potable water supply facilities while sewerage systems in the villages are non-existant. This has been a cause of water-borne diseases like jaundice, typhoid, cholera etc. The chronic unemployment and under-employment in these areas have-led to the migration into towns and cities that have added to the already severe environmental problems in urban settlements.
20.32 According to the 1971 census neany 20 per cent of our urban population lived in 8 metropolitan cities and another 30 per cent lived in 143 cities with a population more than 100,000. The phenomenal increase in urban population both as a result of natural growth as well as immigration, has lead to the mushroom growth of slums and squatter settlements. The pressures on urban land have often resulted '"n an indiscriminate mixture of land uses resulting in a steady deterioration of already strained urban services and environmental quality. In order to provide additional land, ill-conceived reclamation has been carried out on water bodies and marsh lands which have cruc'al ecological roles to play in safeguarding coastal towns and cities. Major instances of such coastal reclamation are to be found in Bombay, Cochin and Calcutta.
20.33 Since Independence several new towns have been built and practically every city has been extended often at the expense of fertile agricultural land. When extensions of old cities have been made thpre have been inadequate assessments of the capacities of existing urban infrastructure to cater to the larger combined populations. Thus roads, water supply, drainage, sewerage services become over-loaded with the consequent frequent break-downs leading to unsatisfactory environmental conditions.
20.34 These trends will only intensify in the future as increase in population density lowers per capita-availability of resources both natural and man-made thus generating additional problems related to environmental health. So far attempts at environmental improvement in human settlements have come in a disjointed and piecemeal fashion with attention focussed on one particular function or the other (transportation, water supply, power generation, etc.) rather than treating settlements and their activities as a dynamic and organic whole. Vigorous and coordinated steps are now required for environmentally sound planning and development of human settlements.
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT FROM DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS
20.35 The unintended environmental impacts resulting from the execution of development projects like those involving thermal or hydro-power generation, mining industry, agriculture, human settlements, etc. manifest themselves through one or more of the environmental problems discussed in the preceding sections. For instance, m'ning operations in India have often led to serious problems of water and air pollution, land subsidence and scarring of large tracts of land. Indiscriminate discharge of wastes by industries has caused a whole variety of pollution problems including those due to heavy metals and other 'exotic* chemicals that are inimical to all life forms. The un-planned, intensive use of agricultural chemicals have led to cases of water pollution and appearance of pesticide residues in food and food products.
20.36 There are other serious and more insidious consequences for human health arising through poorly planned developmental activities. In particular, there is the whole range of tropical, communicable diseases such as malaria, filariasis, dengue, guinea worm, Japanese encephalities etc. that are becoming more wide spread due to the creation of favourable environmental conditions for the pathogens. The majority of the breeding places of these disease-vectors are created by man in the form of stagnant ponds, burrow pits and ditches. Whilst it is recognised that provision of water for agriculture and for human use is a major developmental activity and a vital necessity, it must be ensured that conditions favourable for the breading of vectors of human and animal d'seases are not encouraged. Unplanned urbanisation has changed the ecological conditions in favour of the spread of filariasis. Kala-azar has now come back in an unprecedented form. Studies have shown that the construction of large reservoirs can result a the elevation of sub-soil water in the vicinity with conseouent ch.'inges in the levels of flouride, calcium, trace metals, etc. in soil sediments. This in turn results in the rmergence of diseases, such as nuorosis, in people who are forced to use the contaminated water. For instance, the National Institute of Nutrition in Hyderabad has consclusively revealed the seriousness of fluo-rosis in areas adjacent to the Nagarjunasagar Dam. Skin infections, trachoma, guinea worm and schisto-somiasis are other diseases transmitted by water. The price for the lack of recognition and control of these environment related diseases, is paid not only in terms of human health but also in terms of costs of pest control and medical care.
20.37 It is now recognised that most of these impacts can be minimised or even completely avoided by adequate pre-planning, through use of techniques like environmental impact analysis for which the interdisciplinary expertise will need to be built up. Environmental considerations must form an integral part of all planning for development and be supplemented by mechanisms -to ensure that environmental safeguards proposals are implemented and that there is systematic monitoring to assess their effectiveness.
ADMINISTRATIVE AND LEGISLATIVE ARRANGEMENTS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
20.38 Plans and programmes in fields of soil conservation, public health, forest and wildlife protection, industrial hygiene etc. have been in existence in India for many decades. However the first formal recognition of the need for integrated environmental planning was made when the Government of India constituted the National Committee on Environmental Planning and Coordination (NCEPC) in 1972.
20.39 In the past eight years the NCEPC, a high level advisory body of the Government of India, with technical staff support from the Department of Science and Technology has done valuable work in a number of ureas related to environmental planning. These include environmental appraisal of projects from selected sectors, surveys of wetlands and aquatic weeds, human settlement planning and spread of environmental awareness. At the instance of the NCEPC, high level Environment Boards have been constituted in various States and Union Territories.
20.40 There are several laws that directly or indirectly relate to the projection of environmental resources. Among the more recent ones are the Insecticides Act, 1968, Wild Life Protection Act 1972, the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974, the Water Pollution Cess Act, 1978 and the forthcominq leeislaiion on Air Pol'utinn. Some of the older laws like the Indian Forest Act, 1927, are presently under review. However, manv of the existing environmental laws dealinc with various sectors have become outdated and are poorly implemented. There is also need for new legislation to take account of the special problems arisine from the objective of rapid economic development with social justice.
20.41 In recognition of the need for a fresh, comprehensive look at the administrative and lepislative aspects of environmental protection, the Government of India constituted a High Power Committee under the Chairmanship of the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission. The Committee which submitted its report to the Prime Minister in September, 1980, made a number of reconunendations in this regard. The Committee expressed the need for creating a Department of the Environment (DOE) at the Centre to provide explicit recognition to the pivotal role that environmental conservation must play for sustainaMe national development. The functions of the Department of the Environment were identified as:
(a) 'Nodal' agency for environmental protection and eco-development in the country.
(b) Carrying out of environmental appraisal of development projects through other ministries/agencies as well as directly.
(c) Administrative responsibility for
20.42 Thus the DOE would play an important coordinating role for environment related programmes in all sectors which would be implemented by the relevant ministries/agencies of the Central and State Governments. This 'nodal' fun ction would therefore be in addition to those for which the DOE would have direct administrative responsibility.
20.43 As has been stressed earlier in this Chapter, it is the successful control of population growth and the satisfaction of basic human needs that will ultimately protect environmental health and hence the quality of life of our people. In that sense the entire plan for national development could be termed 'environmental'. However specific programmes for environmental protection would also be necessary to correct various local and regional stresses on environmental resources arising as a result of the conditions of poverty and underdevelopment and the unintended side-effects of programmes for national development.
20.44 The plan will adopt an integrated .approach to find and implement, methods of redressing existing environmental problems and build up the capability for preventing or mitigating those that could arise in the future. In the following paragraphs an indication has been given of some of the main programmes to be carried out bv the Department of the Environment (DOE) either directly or through other Minis'tries/ agencies/institutions.
20.45 A strong programme of Environmental Research and Development will be supported to generate the kind of information and data required for the formulation of environmental policy. Standards and criteria for environmental quality relevant to Indian conditions particularly in the field of human settlement planning have to be worked out through Care-fully planned research schemes. Low cost methods for environmental protection, methods for energy, water and other resources conservation, recycling and re-use in all sectors of the economy, are some of the other objectives to be pursued through programmes of environmental R and D. Gaps in existing knowledge, experitise and infrastructure will be identified on a continuing basis so that appropriate action may be taken.
20.46 In order to ensure that plans for development in all sectors are in harmony with the goal of maintaining the health of life-sustaining eco-systems and other environmental resources the process of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) will be made an integral part of the entire planning process. The cost of pre-project studies related to EIA will be built into regular project costs. Special case studies relating to environmental impact from the execution of projects in various sectors (industry, mining, irrigation, power, forestry, settlements etc.) will be carried out to generate information and guide'-lines (standards, safeguards) required for routine EIA. A system to monitor the compliance of project authorities with stipulations made at the time of conducting the EIA is to be established with the help of other agencies at the Central and State level.
20.47 Monitoring of Environmental Quality is a critical function oT accurate information on the success or otherwise or programmes for environmental protection is to be available. It will also enable optimal deployment of scarce resources and determination of areas in which urgent action is requir-cJ. Environmental quality will be monitored through a number of carefully chosen indicators (physical, chemical, bioiOgical, socio-economic etc.) in various fields such as agriculture, forestry, mining, rural and urban settlements etc. Programmes for the development of infrastructure required in this regard (hard1-ware, expertise ete.) will be strengthened or where necessary initiated afresh. This work will be coordinated by the Department of Environment but will be carried out in their respective sectors by various other Departments/Ministries/agencies of the Central and State Governments.
20.48 The Plan envisages the setting up of an Environmental Information System for the collection, processing and dTssemination of environmental information that will aid planners, decision makers and researchers. In order to avoid duplication of effort (particularly in fields like natural resource management. in which a number of agencies are already servin" as repositories of information) the system will work' on a distributed data-base concept. As a part of the activity, a Documentation and Publication centre will regularly bring out status reports, research monographs, case studies and other relevant material to serve the information needs of the general public.
20.49 Programmes to increase Public Awareness about environmental issues and to stimulate public particination in activities for environmental protection will form a key component of this plan. Particular emphasis will be given for communication programmes for target groups such as village panchayats, district and municipal authorities, State and Central legislators and administrators. Apart from the use of non-formal means (mass media, performing arts, etc.) for public education, formal environmental education wiL be considerably strengthened at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels through inputs into the relevant curnculae, sponsoring of publications and training workshop.
20.50 In response to the identified need for strong research development and training support to programmes for environmental protection it is proposed to set up a number of Centres/Institutions for Studies/ Training in Environmental Science, Technology and Management. This would be accomplished both by strengthening institutions already working in this area and setting up a small number of new institutions. Using a network of existing institutions it is proposed to set ud a Centre for Himalayan Studies and a Centre for Western Ghats Studies. The latter would lay emphasis on the study of tropical rain forests. The new institutions would include an Institute for Environmental Management, a Wildlife Research and Training Institute and a Centre for North-East India Studies. The last mentioned institution is of high priority in view of the rich genetic resources of the region and the r,apid rate at which developmental changes are expected in the near and medium-term future.
The Department of the Environment will sponsor a number of Field Action
Programmes. These will include demonstration projects that illustrate
successful tools, techniques and methodologies for environmental protection
in fields such as land reclamation low-cost pollution control, recycling/reuse
of w,aste materials, mass communication of 'environmental messages'".
Collaborative programmes with other governmental bodies, municipalities,
forest departments, voluntary agencies will attempt to directly accomplish
clearly defined objectives of 'eco-development' in local or regional contexts.
Such projects would include tree planting, weed eradication, communitv
waste collection and reuse, "cleaning" of water bodies. Involvement
of communities in areas surrounding Biosphere Reserves and National Parks
in protection of wildlife etc. Emphasis is to be given Tor proiects involving
youth in eco-development activities through summer camps. Thus particular
emphasis will be given to the involvement of voluntary social organisations,
groups of scientists or individuals in various facets of environmental
protection at the field level. A provision is being made for grants-in-aid
to such eroups who can be of .great assistance
20.52 In order to accelerate the process of repairing the damage already done to fragile hill ecosystems, an Eco-development Force consisting of ex-servicemen will be set up. Such a force will consist r>f discrete units which will be deployed to beein w*th in the upper catchment areas of major Himalayan river systems. The various units of the Eco-development Force will take up a massive afforestation and soil conservation programme and also assist in harnessing rain water for subsequent use both for domestic and agricultural purposes. The Force to-gther with the local community will take steps not only to develop hill eco-systems and forests but also to produce the needed quantities of fuel and fooder without damage to forests.
20.53 Another step which will be initiated by the Department of Environment will be the organisation of Eco-development Camps consisting of students from the different Universities in the country. Each Eco-development Camp will have a specific goal such as the repair of a damaged eco-system Setting up of a marine or desert national park, bio-sphere reserves, organisation of village fuel wood plantations, etc. For each camp, selected groups of students drawn from a mixture of Universities will be trained in relevant tasks before the work of the camp is started. The necessary material for implementing the programme will have to be kept ready in advance, so that the students participating in such camps are able to complete the tasks assigned to them within a well defined time frame. Thus this programme will be so designed as to foster team work among students drawn from different parts of the country in executing a developmental task of both ecological and educational value.
20.54 The role of the State Governments in ensuring a coordinated approach to environmental protection has been recognised to be crucial. The DOE will play a selective role in strengthening of capabilities of State Governments in carrying out environmental planning protection and review. This will be through joint participation in studies, assistance, development of expertise and infrastructure, 'seed money for carrying out studies and research programmes etc.
20.55 An important structural/organisational innovation to ensure flow of information and expertise required for environmentally sound development at the field level will be the constitution of Rural Environmental Cells. The cells will be set up with the cooperation of the relevant State and District authorities. They will act as local level mechanisms to identfy and implement opportunities for optimal use of environmental resources, and prevent their misuse. The cells would function in close coordination with local units of public health, forestry, water and soil management, agricultural services, educational institutions and voluntary agencies working in the field of environment pro tection. The proposed cells would be 'clustered around Regional Environmental Centres (REC). The REC"s would have specialisation in environmental problems of the region and would act in cooperation with State Governments as agencies to transfer information of the DOE and in the reverse direction also. The Rural Environmental Cells and Regional Environmental Cells would serve as the eyes and ears of the DOE at the Centre to facilitate the coordination and 'nodal' functions. A beginning would .be made in a few key blocks in every State where eco-catastropmes are relatively frequent.
20.56 Apart from its work in regulating and co-ordinating the work of pollution monitoring and control the DOE will be directly responsible for the major programmes of: (a) Creation and Management of Biosphere Researves (b) Monitoring and Conservation of Marine Eco-systems. A separate cadre of specialists is to be constituted for management of the Biosphere Reserves which are to be set up under Central control. Considerable preliminary work has already been done to identify potential areas of value to be designated as Biosphere Reserves.
20.57 It is proposed to identify an agency to be entrusted with the task of monitoring and planning for the conservation of the nation's valuable marine eco-systems. The agency will be adequately strengthened to carry out comprehensive research, design and development related to prevention of marine pollution, rational exploitation marine resources and protection of particularly valuable areas and species of marine life.
20.58 A comprehensive programme to make an Inventory of Ecological Resources of the country is to be undertaken. This will be done in coordination with the Environmental Quality Monitoring and Environmental Information Systems programme described earlier. The work will be done in phases by using existing institutions such as Survey of India, Botanical and Zoological Survey of India. National Remote Sensing Agency etc. besides other Ministries and agencies of the Central and State Governments. Data gathered from satellite imagery, aerial photography and field surveys will be processed and collated io selected institutions throughout the country and will be available to planners and decision makers.
20.59 There is a provision of Rs. 40 crores in the Central Plan for these programmes in the Science and Technology sector. The break-up of outlays is as follows.
20.2 Outlay on Environment
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