Editorial : A fresh warning: what GEO-6 means for India

India must recognise the human cost of poorly enforced environment laws
The sixth edition(छठा संस्करण) of the GlobaEnvironment(वैश्विक पर्यावरण) Outlook from the UN Environment Programme has come as another stark(कठोर/पूर्ण रूप से) warning:(चेतावनी/संकेत) the world is unsustainably extracting(निकालने) resources(संसाधन/संपदा) and
producing unmanageable(असहनीय ) quantities(मात्रा) of waste(कचरे/बेकार ). The linear model of economic growth depends(निर्भर ) on the extraction(निष्कर्षण/निकास ) of ever-higher quantities(मात्रा ) ofmaterials(सामग्री), leading to chemicals flowing into air, water and land. This causes(वजह ) ill-health and premature mortality, and affects( प्रभावित ) the quality(गुणवत्ता ) of life, particularly(विशेष रूप से) for those unable (असमर्थ)to insulate(अलग करना)themselves from these effects. The UN report, GEO-6, on the theme “Healthy Planet“ , Healthy People,” has some sharp(तेज ) pointers(संकेत/सूची) for India. It notes that East and South Asia have the highest number of deaths due to air pollution(वायु प्रदुषण;); by one estimate(आकलन/अंदाज़), it killed about 1.24 million in India in 2017. As India’s population(जनसंख्या ) grows(बढ़ती ), it must worry that agricultural(कृषि ) yields(पैदावार) are coming under stress(तनाव ) due to increase(वृद्धि) in average temperature and erratic(अनियमित/अनिश्चित ) monsoons. The implications(उलझाव/फंसाव) of theseforecasts(पूर्वानुमान) for food security and health are all too evident(प्रत्यक्ष/स्पष्ट), more so for the 148 million people living in severe weather ‘hotspots’. Evidently, the task before India is to recognise(पहचानना/मानना) the human cost of poorlyenforced(लागू) environment laws and demonstrate(प्रदर्शन/दिखाना) the political will necessary to end business-as-usual policies. That would mean curbing(अंकुश लगाना/नियंत्रण करना) the use of fossil fuels and toxic chemicals across the spectrum(वर्णक्रम/विस्तार) of economic activity.
There are some targeted(लक्षित) interventions(हस्तक्षेप) that only require(आवश्यकता ) the resolve(संकल्प/समाधान करना) to reduce(कम करना/बदलना ) air and water pollution, and which in turn promise early population-level benefits.Aggressive(आक्रामक/क्रोधी) monitoring of air quality in cities through scaled-up facilities would bring about a consensus( आम सहमति) on cutting emissions(उत्सर्जन/फैलाव) of greenhouse gases, and provide the impetus(प्रोत्साहन/शक्ति) to shift to cleaner sources(स्रोतों) of energy. It is significant that GEO-6 estimates that the top 10% of populations globally, in terms of wealth, are responsible for 45% of GHG emissions, and the bottom 50% for only 13%. Pollution impacts are, however, borne more by the poorer citizens. Combating(मुकाबला) air pollution would, therefore, require(आवश्यकता/मांगना) all older coal-based(आधारित) power plants in India to conform(अनुरूप/समान होना) to emission(फैलाव/उत्सर्जन/प्रसार) norms at the earliest, or to be shut down in favour of renewable(नवीकरणीय ) energy(ऊर्जा) sources. Transport emissions are a growing source of urban pollution, and a quick transition to green mobility(गतिशीलता ) is needed. In the case of water, the imperative(अनिवार्य/आदेशात्मक) is to stop the contamination(दूषण/मैलापन) of surface supplies(आपूर्ति) by chemicals, sewage and municipal waste. As the leading(प्रमुख/अग्र) extractor of groundwater, India needs to make water part of a circular(परिपत्र) economy in which it is treated(इलाज ) as a resource(संसाधन ) that is recovered, treated and reused(पुन: उपयोग). But water protection(संरक्षण ) gets low priority(प्राथमिकता ) , and State governments show no urgency(आत्यधिकता/तीव्र इच्छा) in augmenting(बढ़ाना/बढ़ती करना) rainwater harvesting(कटाई/फ़सल काटना). New storage areas act as a supply source when monsoons fail, and help manage floods when there is excess rainfall.

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