India: Pollution + Economic Growth

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Environmental pollution and a barely-there, economic growth for India. Where is the local excitement?

India is one of the most densely polluted countries in the world. Everyday it sees fine powders of arsenic, black carbon, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide in it’s metropolitans, especially in the capital; in fact, this environmental damage is twice the amount that China has to witness daily, and Beijing is already known around the globe, for it’s less-than-average green credentials. In stark contrast, economic growth is happening for India (a first in the millennium) and China is instead trailing India in it. Overall, the last quarter of 2015 saw India lose out on economic growth, but this is still considerably higher than the economic growth rate for it’s rival, China.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) classifies Delhi as the most polluted developing city and this is a growing concern for the health of all residents. Many people in Delhi die annually because of air pollution, and admissions to hospitals to treat respiratory illnesses is sometimes even ballooning. But where is all of the big smoke coming from? Confined to plenty of other Indian metropolitans too, the causes for the smoke aren’t cars or factories, primarily but instead it is home cooking. North India, specifically, has this problem because of stubble-burning in a rural environment. Cars and other vehicles are a major contributor to pollution too: recently local government efforts saw the implications of emissions standards for brand new passenger cars, and it is hoped that the same set of standards will follow suit for both two-wheelers and three-wheelers. There is also a great big rush in the government-level to make sure the calibre of fuel gets a lot better.

If all of the efforts are rolled out by 2020, then environmental pollution will be slashed into fractions of what it is today. Other such similar expected measures, includes the development of the metro network in Delhi, and sustaining roads more, which singularly feed into air dust. All of these new initiatives run parallel to the ones introduced more than ten years ago, when rubbish-burning was curtailed, both power plants and industries badly polluting the country were no longer allowed to operate, and vehicles, such as buses, auto-rickshaws and taxis were required to use natural gas as fuel to drive. The government also did very little in the past to ease environmental concerns when it dwindled diesel to attract support from farmers using it for both water pumps and tractors. This move catapulted a push towards the vehicle industry mushrooming into a diesel-dominating one. The new initiatives, because of that, are welcome moves because more and more vehicles travel on the roads in India now, than they did back then.

Meanwhile, the major roadblocks to economic improvement for India, range from cement production to investment, but as a developing country, India, has alone come a very long way. Issues of bureaucracy are still hurting the local Indian business environment, which is a major issue for a country predicted to become the third largest economy in a little over decade, right behind the United States and China. Furthermore, the dampening of weather conditions lately has impacted agriculture, and Narendra Modi has highlighted that his government prioritises all farmers worries, and stressed the importance of a good calibre of seeds and irrigation patterns. There are also plans to introduce refrigeration facilities, raise the incomes of farmers, profits free-flowing from reaped produce direct to the pockets of farmers, and decrease any losses amounted by farmers, right after harvest season.


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