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When will India get independence from environmental pollution?

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Categories: Environment: A matter of Survival, Published: 2nd Nov, 2022

Introduction:

  • After 75 years of independence, India still needs freedom from air pollution, water pollution, and plastic pollution, or simply speaking, we need freedom from environmental pollution.
  • Although the respective governments on their ends have responded to the question with a series of forest, wildlife, and environment-related laws and policies, we still have miles to go. We can hope that India would be able to balance its development needs with the sustenance of its ecological foundations.
  • India has marked Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav and has entered into Amrit Kaal, but we are yet to experience the same in terms of the quality of the environment that surrounds us.

Environmental issues in India:

  • In the recently released Environment Performance Index-2022, India was ranked 168th in EPI-2020, with a score of 27.6. The Environment Performance Index (EPI) is an international ranking system that measures the environmental health and sustainability of countries.
  • During the last few decades, India has experienced unprecedented urban expansion and economic growth in recent years. This, however, comes with huge environmental costs. There are many environment tal issues in India. Air pollution, water pollution, and solid-waste management pose as major environmental challenges for India.

Air Pollution:

  • Air pollution in India is a serious issue, with the major sources being biomass burning, fuel adulteration, vehicle emission, and traffic congestion. Undoubtedly one of the most pressing environmental issues in India is air pollution.
  • According to the 2021 World Air Quality Report, India is home to 63 of the 100 most polluted cities, with New Delhi named as the capital with the worst air quality in the world. The study also found that 5 concentrations – tiny particles in the air that are 2.5 micrometres or smaller in length – in 48% of the country’s cities are more than 10 times higher than the 2021 WHO air quality guideline level. Scientists have linked persistent exposure to PM2.5 to many long-term health issues including heart and lung disease, as well as 7 million premature deaths each year.
  • The instances of lung cancer among non-smokers and young Indians are on the rise. The dramatic shift in the profiles of lung cancer patients has a clear cause: air fouled by dirty diesel exhaust fumes, construction dust, rising industrial emissions and crop burning, which has created heavy loads of harmful pollutants in the air.
  • Sources: Vehicular emissions, industrial waste, smoke from cooking, the construction sector, crop burning, and power generation are among the biggest sources of air pollution in India. The country’s dependence on coal, oil, and gas due to rampant electrification makes it the world’s third-largest polluter, contributing over 2.65 billion metric tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere every year.

Some stark facts about Air Pollution in India:

  • Globally, air pollution is a silent killer. The air pollution levels in India are among the highest in the world, posing a heavy threat to the country's health and economy. All of India’s 1.4 billion people (100% of the country’s population) are exposed to unhealthy levels of ambient PM 2.5 – the most harmful pollutant - emanating from multiple sources.
  • An analysis of district-wise data of the University of Chicago’s Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) has shown that residents of the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi are losing over 10 years of their lives due to air pollution.
  • The 43 most-affected districts in India are from the Indo-Gangetic Plain which comprises Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal.
  • In 2019, the Indian government came up with the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) to bring down particulate pollution by 20-30 per cent by 2024, in comparison to the 2017 air pollution levels.

Water pollution:

  • As India grows and urbanizes, its water bodies are getting toxic. It's estimated that around 70% of surface water in India is unfit for consumption. Every day, in excess of 40 million litres of wastewater enters rivers and other water bodies with only a tiny fraction adequately treated. A recent World Bank report suggests that such a release of pollution upstream lowers economic growth in downstream areas, reducing GDP growth in these regions by up to a third.
  • To make it worse, in middle-income countries like India where water pollution is a bigger problem, the impact increases to a loss of almost half of GDP growth. Another study estimates that being downstream of polluted stretches in India is associated with a 9% reduction in agricultural revenues and a 16% drop in downstream agricultural yields.
  • India has major water pollution issues. Discharge of untreated sewage is an important cause of pollution of surface and groundwater in India since there is a large gap between the generation and treatment of domestic wastewater.
  • In middle-income countries like India, water pollution can account for the loss of up to half of GDP growth, a World Bank report suggests. Water pollution costs the Indian government between USD$6.7 and $7.7 billion a year and is associated with a 9% drop in agricultural revenues as well as a 16% decrease in downstream agricultural yields.
  • Besides affecting humans, with millions of Indians suffering from waterborne diseases like typhoid, cholera, and hepatitis and nearly 400,000 fatalities each year, water pollution also damages crops, as infectious bacteria and diseases in the water used for irrigation prevent them from growing.
  • Inevitably, freshwater biodiversity is also severely damaged. The country’s rivers and lakes often become open sewers for residential and industrial waste. Especially the latter – which comprises a wide range of toxic substances like pesticides and herbicides, oil products, and heavy metals – can kill aquatic organisms by altering their environment and making it extremely difficult for them to survive.

Solid waste pollution:

  • The rapid increase in urbanisation and per capita income in India has significantly led to an increase in municipal solid waste generation in the country. Electronic waste and plastic waste have contributed a large amount to the total waste stream in recent years. The use of domestic hazardous waste and bio-medical waste last year shot up due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Improper and unscientific disposal of these wastes can be hazardous for human life and the environment.
  • Trash and garbage are major sources of pollution. Indian cities alone generate more than 100 million tons of solid waste a year. India’s solid waste collection efficiency, is around 70 per cent at present, while it is almost 100 per cent in many developed countries.
  • As the second-largest population in the world of nearly 1.38 billion people, it comes as no surprise that 277 million tonnes of municipal solid waste (MSW) are produced there every year. Experts estimate that by 2030, MSW is likely to reach 387.8 million tonnes and will more than double the current value by 2050. India’s rapid urbanisation makes waste management extremely challenging. Currently, about 5% of the total collected waste is recycled, 18% is composted, and the remaining is dumped at landfill sites.

Marine Pollution:

  • Microplastics are recognised as a major source of marine pollution. Untreated sewage from many cities along the river’s course, industrial waste and religious offerings wrapped in non-degradable plastics pile pollutants into the river as it flows through several densely populated cities.
  • The plastic products and waste materials released or dumped in the river break down and are eventually broken down into microparticles and the river finally transports significantly large quantities downstream into the ocean, which is the ultimate sink of all plastics being used by humans.
  • The plastic crisis in India is one of the worst on the planet. According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), India currently produces more than 25,000 tonnes of plastic waste every day on average, which accounts for almost 6% of the total solid waste generated in the country. India stands second among the top 20 countries having a high proportion of riverine plastic emissions nationally as well as globally.
  • Indus, Brahmaputra, and Ganges rivers are known as the ‘highways of plastic flows’ as they carry and drain most of the plastic debris in the country. Together with the 10 other topmost polluted rivers, they leak nearly 90% of plastics into the sea globally. According to studies, the microplastic concentration in Ganga more than in any other major world river.

Noise pollution:

  • Noise pollution or noise disturbance is the most efficiently changing and disturbing or excessive noise that may harm the activity or balance of human or animal life. The source of most outdoor noise worldwide is mainly caused by machines and transportation systems, motor vehicles, aircraft, and trains.
  • Permissible noise level in India: The CPCB has laid down the permissible noise levels in India for different areas. Noise pollution rules have defined the acceptable level of noise in different zones for both daytime and night-time.
    • In industrial areas, the permissible limit is 75 dB for daytime and 70 dB at night.
    • In commercial areas, it is 65 dB and 55 Db.
    • In residential areas, it is 55 dB and 45 dB during daytime and night respectively.
  • Laws: Earlier, noise pollution and its sources were addressed under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981. They are now, however, regulated separately under the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000.

Soil Pollution: Soil pollution is defined as, “contamination of soil by human and natural activities which may cause harmful effect on living organisms”. Primary sources of soil pollution are:

  • Industrial wastes – Disposal of Industrial wastes is the major problem for soil pollution.
  • Urban wastes – Urban wastes comprise of both commercial and domestic wastes consisting of dried sludge and sewage.
  • Agricultural practices – Modern agricultural practices pollute the soil to a large extent. With the advancing agro-technology, huge quantities of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and weedicides are added to increase the crop yield. Apart from these farm wastes, manure, slurry, debris, and soil erosion containing mostly inorganic chemicals are reported to cause soil pollution.
  • Biological agents – Soil gets a large amount of human, animal and bird excreta which constitute a major source of land pollution by biological agents: Heavy application of manures and digested sludge can cause serious damage to plants within a few years.

What are the factors responsible for environmental pollution?

  • Urbanization: In the last two decades, India has urbanised at an unprecedented rate. While existing cities are growing, the country is also building new cities. The environmental pollution caused by urbanization is mainly due to the effects, such as the increase in urban land use, of the excessive concentration of the population. The destruction of the environment through economic growth is mainly due to excessive consumption of energy.
  • Stress on Natural Resources: The fast growth has led to huge stress on our natural resources, especially water. For example, Intensive breeding of livestock and poultry leads to deforestation, land degradation, and contamination of water sources and other natural resources
  • Increased Mining: Despite advances in renewable energy, India is still largely dependent on thermal power plants to meet its increasing energy demand, resulting in a rise in coal mining rates. The massive need for construction materials has led to the disappearance of many hills due to quarrying and other mining activities.
    • The extraction of minerals from nature often creates imbalances, which adversely affect the environment. The key environmental impacts of mining are on wildlife and fishery habitats, the water balance, local climates & the pattern of rainfall, sedimentation, the depletion of forests and the disruption of the ecology.
  • Fires: Fires are adverse events with tangible costs for property and human life. Studies suggest that 90 percent of the fires in India are man-made. Either they are used for burning down forests or it would have been done for stubble burning or crop fires.
  • Solid Waste Management: Rapid urbanisation and solid waste management issues in the country have also led to fires in solid waste disposal sites across India.
  • Agro-Chemicals: The use of inorganic fertilisers and pesticides has increased manifold for enhancing crop production. Pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc., are being increasingly used. These incidentally, are also toxic to non-target organisms, which are important components of the soil ecosystem.

Changing perception: The question arises of where it all went wrong and how to do the course correction can help us to score another independence from the shackles of environmental pollution.

  • To understand this, we can consider the era of liberalization of the Indian economy in 1991. The dismantling of state controls was in part welcome, for the licence-permit-quota-Raj had stifled innovation and entrepreneurship.
  • Unfortunately, the votaries of liberalisation mounted a series of the savage attack on environmentalists than did the proponents of state socialism. Environmentalists were attacked because, with the dismantling of state controls, only they asked the hard question.
  • In a single generation, environmentalists had gone from being seen as capitalist cronies to being damned as socialist stooges. When a new factory, highway, or mining project was proposed, only they asked where the water or land would come from, or what the consequences would be for the quality of the air, the state of the forests, and the livelihood of the people.

Steady deterioration

  • Meanwhile, the environment continued to deteriorate. The levels of air pollution were now shockingly high in all Indian cities. The rivers along which these cities were sited were effectively dead. Groundwater aquifers dipped alarmingly in India’s food bowl, Punjab.
  • Districts in Karnataka were devastated by open-cast mining. Across India, the untreated waste of cities was dumped in villages. Forests continued to decline, and sometimes disappear.

Learning from mistakes:

  • The Western economic model which we have followed with keenness is highly toxic. It is built upon an intensive use of energy and materials. It mobilises an enormous number of resources of the Earth (from a wide variety of minerals to oil and coal reserves) and then processes them into a wide variety of artificial products which are then used widely by human beings.
  • Western world's environmental history: It was in the post-World War II period that the world began to see what was then an unprecedented economic boom in Europe, Japan and North America.
    • By the 1950s itself, cities from Tokyo and London to Los Angeles were choking under pollution. It was, in fact, this pollution which kicked off the global environmental movement. It is obvious that we have failed to learn from the mistakes of the West.

Actions Taken so far:

  • In 2019, the Indian government came up with the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) to bring down particulate pollution by 20-30 per cent by 2024, in comparison to the 2017 air pollution levels.
  • Separate body to adjudicate environmental cases: To deal with environmental litigation and provide fast redressal, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) was constituted in India in 2010.
    • NGT is a specialised judicial body equipped with expertise solely for the purpose of adjudicating environmental cases in the country. This move is also one of the major steps taken after the independence in redressing the environmental cases as it famously passed some rulings for the protection of the environment including prohibiting the open burning of waste on lands.
  • Plastic Ban: Plastic is one of the major sources of environmental pollution in India with Indians generating about 3.5 million tonnes of plastic waste per year. However, the government of India on July 2022, banned single-use plastic which will not only reduce plastic waste drastically but will also affect the environment in a positive sense.
    • Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules 2018 introduced the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).

What is India’s pledge of net zero by 2070?

  • Net-zero, which also refers to carbon-neutrality, means a balance between the amount of earth-warming greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions (carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, etc) produced and the amount eliminated from the atmosphere to tackle climate change.
  • More than 70 countries have promised to become Net Zero by the middle of the century i.e., by 2050. India has promised to cut its emissions to net zero by 2070 at the conference of parties-26(COP) summit.

India's Contribution Towards Net Zero

  • India is leading the world by building International Solar Alliance to mobilise the efforts against climate change through the deployment of solar energy.
  • India’s installed renewable energy capacity is the fourth largest in the world. A total of 150.54 GW of Renewable Energy capacity (including large hydro) was installed in the country.
  • India will also house the world's largest floating solar plant, which will help generate 600-Megawatt power by 2022-23 in Madhya Pradesh. Apart from solar energy, India is also utilising hydropower to promote the use of green energy. From 4.2 GW in 2016, the installed capacity of the small hydropower plants has increased to 4.8 GW, which is close to the target of 5 GW set by the Ministry of New and Renewable energy.
  • To address climate change and become more self-reliant for energy needs, India needs to focus on cultivating non-fossil power sources, new mobility solutions and industrial green hydrogen.
    • Green hydrogen is produced using the electrolysis of water with electricity generated by renewable energy. The carbon intensity ultimately depends on the carbon neutrality of the source of electricity (i.e., the more renewable energy there is in the electricity fuel mix, the “greener” the hydrogen produced).
  • From the first electric vehicle in 1996, India now houses over 1.5 million e-rickshaws. In 2021, the sale of electric two-wheelers went up by 132% as compared to 2020, indicating the faster adoption of methods to protect the environment.
  • Stricter fuel and emission norms: India also has plans to blend 20% ethanol in petrol, which will reduce carbon emissions as well as air pollution. It is expected that 20 per cent ethanol blended petrol will be available at select petrol pumps in the country by April 2023.
    • Notably, this will contribute to a reduction of greenhouse gases equivalent to about 3 lakh tonnes of carbon dioxide emission per annum, which is equivalent to taking around 63,000 cars off the roads per year.
  • All of the renewable projects from solar to hydro to the use of EVs and ethanol blending aims to reduce the carbon emission of developing India which requires energy but will not compromise the environment. India has gone ahead of many developed countries in terms of utilising renewable energy as it stands 4th in the list of countries having installed renewable energy capacity worldwide. Notably, from 13,242 MW in 2008, India's renewable energy went up to 1,59,949 MW in 2022, taking the total share of renewable sources of energy in India's power sector to 39.7%
  • In a recent development, Convergence Energy Services Ltd (CESL), a subsidiary of public sector joint venture Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL), plans to tender 50,000 electric buses on behalf of states in the next five years. This is also a remarkable example of cooperative federalism at work where states and centre are coming together for a common good
  • Decarbonise the Transport Sector: To reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector. It can be done by the increase the efficiency of vehicle technology. India is accelerating its e-mobility transition with the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles Scheme.
    • India leapfrogged from Bharat Stage-IV (BS-IV) to Bharat Stage-VI (BS-VI) emission norms by April 1, 2020, the latter being originally scheduled for adoption in 2024.
    • A voluntary vehicle scrapping policy to phase out old and unfit vehicles complements the existing schemes.
    • The Indian Railways is also charging ahead, targeting the full electrification of all broad-gauge routes by 2023.
  • India's Support for EVs: India is among a handful of countries that support the global EV30@30 campaign, which aims for at least 30% of new vehicle sales to be electric by 2030.
    • India’s advocacy of five elements for climate change “Panchamrit” at the COP26 in Glasgow is a commitment to the same.
    • India has taken various measures to develop and promote the EV ecosystem:
      1. The remodelled Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles (FAME II) scheme.
      2. Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for Advanced Chemistry Cell (ACC) for the supplier side.
      3. The recently launched PLI scheme for Auto and Automotive Components for manufacturers of electric vehicles.
  • Role of Government Schemes: The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana has helped 88 million households to shift from coal-based cooking fuels to LPG connections.
    • More than 367 million LED bulbs have been distributed under the UJALA scheme, leading to a reduction of 38.6 million tonnes of CO2 per year.
    • These two and other similar initiatives have helped India achieve a reduction of 24% in the emission intensity of its GDP between 2005 and 2016.
  • Lifestyle For Environment: Recognizing that lifestyle has a big role in climate change, the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, at COP 26, proposed a ‘One-Word Movement’, to the global community.
    • This one word is LIFE: L, I, F, E, i.e. Lifestyle For Environment. The vision of LIFE is to live a lifestyle that is in tune with our planet and does not harm it.
  • Updated framework for NDC: As per the updated NDC, India now stands committed to reducing the Emissions Intensity of its GDP by 45 percent by 2030, from the 2005 level and achieving about 50 percent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030.

Important Event (Timeline):

  • 1974: Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974. Amended in 1975, 1977, 1978 and 1988.
  • 1981: Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act. State and Central Boards were formed to monitor and control air pollution. Amended in 1983. Another Air Act for Union Territories was introduced in 1983.
  • 1986: Environment (Protection) Act. Born out of the Stockholm Conference and the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy. It has two statutory bodies: The genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee and the National Coastal Zone Management Authority.
  • 1989: Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, promulgated under the EPA. Amended in 2008 and renamed The Hazardous Waste (Management, Handling and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2008. Further amendments followed in 2009, 2010 and 2016. It stipulates that producers of the waste are responsible for decontamination.
  • 1995: The National Environmental Tribunal Act, an outcome of the 1992 Rio Summit called for judicial and administrative solutions for victims of environmental damage. Under the Act, compensation can be claimed for damages to persons, property and the environment.
  • 1997: National Environment Appellate Authority Act. Created to hear appeals related to restrictions on areas where industries could be located. It operates under the EPA.
  • 1998: Biomedical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules. Segregation, disposal, collection and treatment of this waste were made legally binding on health care institutions. Amended in 2016.
  • 2000: Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules. Collection, segregation, storage, transportation, processing and disposal of municipal solid wastes applies to every municipal authority.
  • 2000: Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules.
  • 2000: Ozone-Depleting Substances (Regulation and Control) Rules to regulate the production, trade and use of ODS.
  • 2001: Batteries (Management and Handling) Rules. It puts the onus of environmentally safe disposal of batteries on every manufacturer, importer, consumer and any other dealer in batteries.
  • 2010: National Green Tribunal Act. This was an amendment to the 1995 Act. The Tribunal is charged with disposing of cases within six months. Applicants can take the decision to the Supreme Court. Though the NGT has wide powers, it cannot hear anything under the Wildlife (Protection) Act or the Indian Forest Act, 1927.
  • 2011: E-waste (Management) Rules. Everyone involved in electronic and electrical equipment, from producers to e-waste dismantlers, had to obtain authorisation to dismantle it. This was amended in 2016 to say only authorised dismantlers could operate in the dismantling of e-waste.
  • 2016: Plastic Waste (Management) Rules, which mandated increasing the minimum thickness of plastic carry bags from 40 to 50 microns and a minimum thickness of 50 microns for plastic sheets. In 2021, the rules were amended to prohibit single-use plastic items, having low utility and high littering potential by 2022.
  • 2016: The Solid Waste (Management) Rules. This replaced the Municipal Solid Wastes Rules of 2000. The new rules apply beyond municipal areas and incorporated the three Rs: recovery, reuse and recycle.
  • 2022: Forest (Conservation) Rules. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change amended the 1980 rules and notified new rules in July 2022. This permits private developers to cut forests without the consent of the inhabitants. It is in direct violation of the Forest Rights Act.

Is getting independence from Environmental Pollution a State Responsibility?

  • The answer is “NO”. The government alone cannot combat pollution. Pollution cannot be controlled simply by the government, laws and regulations. Government measures are not adequate to contain pollution. Until the general population, and every citizen of the nation becomes conscious of environmental issues in our country, environmental degradation will not stop.

India is lacking in environmental research:

  • Need to work on Preventive toxicology: Environmental pollutants are silent killers; they do not kill overnight. Exposure to even a very small pollutant for a long period of time can build up and eventually can cause harm in our bodies. We should analyse how to prevent toxicological manifestations either in treatment given to the patients or even to take preventive measures so that the people need not be exposed to them anymore.
  • Environmental Engineering: We need to look into environmental engineering which focuses on indigenous technology. Waste like carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and various kinds of hydrocarbons originate because of improper combustion of fuel in engines.
    • These can be controlled just by simplified legislation since knowledge about them already exists. The government must compel car manufacturers to provide a catalytic converter in every vehicle.

Environment Protection under Constitutional Framework of India:

The constitution of India embodies the framework of protection and preservation of nature without which life cannot be enjoyed. The knowledge of constitutional provisions regarding environment protection is the need of the day to bring greater public participation, environmental awareness, and environmental education and sensitize the people to preserve ecology and the environment. Let’s look at the provisions:

  • Preamble: The preamble to our constitution ensures a socialist pattern of society and the dignity of the individual. A decent standard of living and a pollution-free environment is inherent in the constitution of India.

The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 defines environment as “environment includes water, air and land and the interrelationship which exists among and between air, water and land and human beings, other living creatures, plants, micro-organism and property”.

  • Fundamental Duties: The chapter on fundamental duties of the Indian Constitution clearly imposes a duty on every citizen to protect the environment. Article 51-A (g), says that “It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures.”
  • Directive principles: The Directive principles under the Indian constitution are directed toward the ideals of building a welfare state. A healthy environment is also one of the elements of the welfare state.
  • Article 47 provides that the State shall regard the raising of the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people and the improvement of public health as among its primary duties. The improvement of public health also includes the protection and improvement of the environment without which public health cannot be assured.
  • Article 48 -A of the constitution says that “the state shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country”.
  • Fundamental Rights: The Constitution of India under part III guarantees fundamental rights which are essential for the development of every individual and to which a person is inherently entitled by virtue of being human alone. Right to the environment is also a right without which the development of an individual and the realisation of his or her full potential shall not be possible. Articles 21, 14 and 19 of this part have been used for environmental protection.
  • Panchayati Raj Institutions: Panchayats have been empowered under the constitution to take measures such as soil conservation, water management, forestry and protection of the environment and promotion of ecological aspects.

India’s Path Independence 2.0: (Net Zero)

  • Glasgow COP26 climate summit in November 2021, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi committed India to achieve net-zero emissions by 2070 – 20 years later than similar self-imposed targets set by North America and Europe and 10 years after China.
  • India has pledged to cut its carbon emissions to net zero by 2070 – seemingly a less stringent target than those set by other major economies. However, for an emerging economy of 1.4 billion citizens where energy demand keeps rising, strong partnerships, innovation and finance are key to making this happen.
  • The net-zero commitment is part of a strategy of Panchamrit or “five elixirs.” Four out of five of these so-called elixirs are short-term goals that would pave the way for achieving a net-zero emissions target by 2070. The immediate goals are:
    1. Reaching a non-fossil fuel energy capacity of 500 GW by 2030;
    2. Fulfilling 50 percent of energy requirements via renewable energy by 2030;
    3. Reducing CO2 emissions by 1 million tons by 2030; and
    4. Reducing carbon intensity below 45 percent by 2030.
    5. India will achieve net zero by 2070

Net zero roadmap:

  • A study published by the Asian non-profit research institute the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) concluded that to meet the 2070 target India must achieve five main de-carbonisation goals:
    1. Phase out coal in the industrial sector by 2065;
    2. Phase out all other use of coal by 2060;
    3. By 2050 reach 1,700 gigawatts (GW) of solar-based generation capacity;
    4. By 2050 reach 557 GW of wind-based generation capacity; and
    5. By 2050 expand to 68 GW of nuclear-powered generation capacity.

Cost of Net Zero: India would need to invest a relatively large portion of GDP towards decarbonization: India’s annual capital spending on the transition would be about 11 per cent of GDP in the Net Zero 2050 scenario, compared to the global average of about 7.5 per cent of GDP.

Conclusion:

  • One of the most important aspects of this year's Independence Day celebrations is “Shatabdi Sankalp”, a promise that we make towards the country for 2047, the 100th year of Independence. The mitigation and management of environmental pollution is an ongoing process. It needs to be integrated into the capabilities of the government, as well as incorporated into the behaviour of businesses and individuals. Nation building and the struggle for independence were an outcome of the combined efforts of the masses and its leaders. The same analogy is applicable today when India seeks independence 2.0 from the shackles of environmental pollution.

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