Indian General Elections – Who is standing up for the environment?

India is home to more than one-sixth of world’s population and by 2025 is expected to be the most populous country in the world. It goes without saying that what India does will undoubtedly have an impact on the world. Forget about the world, whatever the Indian government decides to do or not do, it will have a more profound impact on India itself. In 2011, India was already the world’s 3rd largest CO2 emitter.

It is well known the entire Indian economy is hugely dependant on weather patterns. A failed yearly monsoon, is usually enough to wreak havoc with primarily agricultural driven economy. Though the climate change is expected to have no drastic impact on the monsoon patterns themselves. In fact, the rainy season might vary by 5-10% from normal.

It is not unusual to have drought like situation in some states, while others states are flooded. Most of the rain water runs-off anyways. It is surprising that how the fresh water from monsoons is not harvested which has the potential of eradicating drinking water scarcity issues Indian cities already face.

However, it is not the monsoon which is should be a cause of concern. Neither is it the Himalayan glaciers, glaciers are expected to stay put till at least 2060s, and additional 5-10% monsoon rains should provide adequate water for the great plains at least in theory.

What is of concern is the deteriorating quality of breathable air in some of our metros. Delhi was classified as the world’s most polluted city back in January. It is surprising to note, that despite having this very recent not-so-wanted feather in the cap, almost no political party in Delhi has pollution on the agenda. Indians have the weakest lung function[upto 30% lesser than a standard European person] because of pollution, not to mention that the nation has highest death rate from respiratory diseases.

But in India, none of the political parties(even in the heavily polluted Delhi) have clean-air on the agenda. Instead of sustained environment friendly development, only blind development seems to be a priority. With the count of vehicles increasing at a rapid pace, and the growth of per capita income the number of vehicles is only bound to increase in our cities. That will create more problems than development will ever solve, with high concentration of population, and lack of adequate road infrastructure for massive traffic. 

The blind flight towards urbanization & development, and absence of any policy to prevent environmental hazards resulting thereof, is simply unsustainable in a populous country like India. And it seems like the political class is yet to wake up to the reality.

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