This Research Paper describes the present day situation in India with respect to
environmental problems. According to the Researcher India's environment, natural
or man-made, is in poor shape and still deteriorating. Major problems
include deforestation, population growth, soil erosion, desertification,
contaminated rivers and lakes, air-and water pollution particularly in urban
environments, a rural energy crisis, water shortage and the disappearance of
rare animal species (i.e. loss of Biodiversity). The research paper is based on
recent, mostly internet search and domestic sources.
Our Mother earth is dying due to so many environmental causes.
Environmental degradation is also a one of the serious cause which destroy
present and as well as future ecosystem along with the danger to the life of
living beings on the planet Earth.
Human being is a culprit to kill our mother earth by damaging environment
Environmental degradation is one of the most curious subjects where our mother
earth is dying due to its hazardous, irreparable, unthinkable and permanent
causes which cannot be easily stopped in present Era.
The deterioration of the environment by natural or human forces is known
as environmental degradation.
Natural Forces: Natural happenings like heavy rain, floods, storms, earthquakes,
volcanoes etc. are not under human control and they play havoc with environment
time to time by making the land unfit for cultivation. Here man is helpless.
He can do nothing except to see the havoc. But here also the human forces pave
the way for enlargement of those natural forces which causes disaster to our
When man himself plays a vital role in degrading the environment in which he
lives, and then the problem becomes more serious.
Following Are The Human Forces Which Pave The Way For Environmental Degradation:
Population Growth And Environmental Quality:
As the human population keeps on enlarging, there is a lot of pressure on the
utilization of natural resources. This often causes over-exploitation of the
natural resources, and contributes to environmental erosion.
Overpopulation simply means more pollution and fast extraction of natural
resources compared to how they are being replaced.
Major environmental issues are forest and agricultural degradation of land,
resource depletion (such as water, mineral, forest, sand, and
rocks), environmental degradation, public health, loss of biodiversity, loss
of resilience in ecosystems, livelihood security for the poor.
Major water pollution issues in India are as follows-
Discharge of untreated sewage:
Discharge of untreated sewage is the big problem and cause for pollution of
surface and ground water in India. There is big generation gap where the people
failure to treatment of domestic waste water in India.
Sewage Treatment Plants:
India lacks in sufficient treatment capacity as the
existed treatment plant not operated and are not maintained properly.
Agriculture run offs:
Other sources of water pollution include agriculture run
off and small scale factories along the rivers and lakes of India.
Fertilizers and Pesticides:
Fertilizers and pesticides used in agriculture in
northwest have been found in rivers, lakes and ground water.
Flooding during monsoons:
Flooding during monsoons worsens India's water
pollution problem, as it washes and moves all sorts of solid garbage and
contaminated soils into its rivers and wetlands.
World Health Organization study:
According to a World Health Organization
study, out of India's 3,119 towns and cities, just 209 have partial sewage
treatment facilities, and only 8 have full wastewater treatment facilities.
Over 100 Indian cities dump untreated sewage directly into the Ganges
River. Investment is needed to bridge the gap between 29000 million litre per
day of sewage India generates, and a treatment capacity of mere 6000 million
litre per day.
Air pollution in India is a serious issue with the major sources being fuel wood
and biomass burning, fuel adulteration, vehicle emission and traffic
Crop burning practice:
Crop burning practice in northwest India is after monsoon from October to
December, are major seasonal source of air pollution.
Approximately 500 million tons of crop residue is burnt in open, releasing
smoke, soot, NOx, SOx, PAHs and particulate matter into the air. This burning
has been found to be a leading cause of smog and haze problems through the
winter over Punjab, cities such as Delhi, and major population centers along the
rivers through West Bengal.
Vehicle emissions are another source of air pollution. Vehicle emissions are
worsened by fuel adulteration and poor fuel combustion efficiencies from traffic
congestion and low density of quality, high speed road network
The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act was passed in 1981 to regulate
air pollution and there have been some measurable improvements. However, the
2012 Environmental Performance Index ranked India as having the poorest relative
air quality out of 132 countries.
Solid Waste Pollution:
Trash and Garbage:
Trash and garbage is a common sight in urban and rural areas of India. It is a
major source of pollution. Indian cities alone generate more than 100 million
tons of solid waste a year. Street corners are piled with trash. Public places
and sidewalks are despoiled with filth and litter, rivers and canals act as
It causes badly many of hill stations and tourist places in India.
Medical waste also uncontrolled and half of medical waste is improperly disposed
off which is harmful and it causes the water pollution by way of contaminated
Industrial effluents also the main cause of solid and waste pollution which is
major issue in India. If it can’t treated well and disposed off it causes
environmental pollution which is not recoverable.
Supreme Court Guidelines:
In 2000, India's Supreme Court directed all Indian cities to implement a
comprehensive waste-management programme that would include household collection
of segregated waste, recycling and composting. These directions have simply been
ignored. No major city runs a comprehensive programme of the kind envisioned by
the Supreme Court.
Noise-wise India can be termed as the most polluted country in the world.
Outdoor Noise Pollution:
The source of most outdoor noise worldwide is mainly caused by machines and
transportation systems, motor vehicles, aircraft, and trains. Because of these
noise pollution increasing day by day and making the health issue which causes
permanent disability of hearing, cardiovascular effects in humans and an
increased incidence of coronary artery disease.
Indoor Noise Pollution:
Indoor noise can be caused by machines, building activities, and music
performances, especially in some workplaces. Noise-induced hearing loss can be
caused by outside (e.g. trains) or inside (e.g. music) noise.
Animal Deaths due to Noise pollution:
In animals, noise can increase the risk of death by altering predator or prey
detection and avoidance, interfere with reproduction and navigation, and
contribute to permanent hearing loss.
Supreme Court Guidelines:
The Supreme Court of India which is in New Delhi gave a significant verdict
on noise pollution in 2005 by Honorable Justice Lahoti Bhan to restrict the use
of Loudspeakers. The court stressed that in the modern days noise had become one
of the major pollutants and it had serious effects on human health.
emphasized that those who made noise often took shelter behind Article 19(1) A
pleading freedom of speech and right to expression. However, it was of the view
that freedom from noise pollution was a part of the right to life under Article
21 of the Constitution. Indian judicial opinion had been uniform in recognizing
right to live in freedom from noise pollution as a fundamental right protected
by Article 21 and noise pollution beyond permissible limits as an in-road on
that right. The Supreme Court agreed with this view. Noise interfered with the
fundamental right of the citizens to live in peace and to protect themselves
against forced audience.
Amendment in Noise Pollution Regulation and Control Rules, 2000:
In January 2010, Government of India published norms of permissible noise levels
in urban and rural areas.
Land Or Soil Pollution
Causes of soil degradation are both natural and human-induced.
Natural causes include earthquakes, tsunamis, droughts, avalanches, landslides,
volcanic eruptions, floods, tornadoes, and wildfires.
Human- induced causes:
Human-induced soil degradation results from land clearing and deforestation,
inappropriate agricultural practices, improper management of industrial
effluents and wastes, over-grazing, careless management of forests, surface
mining, urban sprawl, and commercial/industrial development.
Inappropriate agricultural practices include excessive tillage and use of heavy
machinery, excessive and unbalanced use of inorganic fertilizers, poor
irrigation and water management techniques, pesticide overuse, inadequate crop
residue and/or organic carbon inputs, and poor crop cycle planning.
Some underlying social causes of soil degradation in India are land shortage,
decline in per capita land availability, economic pressure on land, land
tenancy, poverty, and population increase.
In this review of land degradation in India, we summarize
- the main causes of soil degradation in different agro-climatic regions;
- research results documenting both soil degradation and soil health
improvement in various agricultural systems; and
- potential solutions to improve soil health in different regions using a
variety of conservation agricultural approaches.
In March 2009, the issue of Uranium poisoning in Punjab attracted press
coverage. It was alleged to be caused by fly ashponds of thermal power stations,
which reportedly lead to severe birth defects in children in the Faridkot and Bhatinda districts
The news reports claimed the uranium levels were more than 60 times
the maximum safe limit. In 2012, the Government of India confirmed that the
ground water in Malwa belt of Punjab has uranium metal that is 50% above the
trace limits set by the United Nations' World Health Organization. Scientific
studies, based on over 1000 samples from various sampling points, could not
trace the source to fly ash and any sources from thermal power plants or
industry as originally alleged.
The study also revealed that the uranium
concentration in ground water of Malwa district is not 60 times the WHO limits,
but only 50% above the WHO limit in 3 locations. This highest concentration
found in samples was less than those found naturally in ground waters currently
used for human purposes elsewhere, such as Finland. Research is underway to
identify natural or other sources for the uranium.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
India was the third largest emitter of carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas,
in 2009 at 1.65 Gt per year, after China and the United States . With 17 percent
of world population, India contributed some 5 percent of human-sourced carbon
dioxide emission; compared to China's 24 percent share. On per capita basis,
India emitted about 1.4 tons of carbon dioxide per person, in comparison to the
United States’ 17 tons per person, and a world average of 5.3 tons per person.
Deforestation is the cutting down of trees to make way for more homes and
industries. Rapid growth in population and urban sprawl are two of the major
causes of deforestation. Apart from that, use of forest land for agriculture,
animal grazing, harvest for fuel wood and logging are some of the other causes
of deforestation. Deforestation contributes to global warming as decreased
forest size puts carbon back into the environment.
Trees are important constituents of the ecosystem by absorbing carbon.
Industrialized countries consume 12 times more wood and its products per person
than the non-industrialized countries. Poverty, over-population and unequal land
access are the main causes of man- made deforestation. Half of the world’s
tropical forests has already been cleared. Up to 28,000 species are expected to
become extinct by the next quarter of the century due to deforestation. 20% of
the world’s oxygen is produced in the Amazon forest. One and a half acres of
forest is cut down every second. Agriculture is the leading cause of
Effects Of Environmental Degradation
Impact on human health:
Environmental degradation affecting the human health through the toxic air
pollutants as well as contaminated water which causes the diseases like
Allergies and Asthma; Birth Defects, Dermatitis, Emphysema, Heart Disease ,Lead
Poisoning ,Mercury Poisoning Nervous System disorders, Pneumoconiosis ,Fever,
Skin Cancer, Tooth decay, Waterborne diseases etc..
Millions of people are known to have died of due to indirect effects of toxic
air, toxic water, and unproductive food from soil pollution.
Loss of Biodiversity
Biodiversity maintains balance of the ecosystem in the form of combating
pollution, restoring nutrients, protecting water sources and stabilizing
There are several species threatened due to deforestation, global warming, over
population and pollution which causes for loss of Biodiversity.
Degradation of the environment has recorded a continued destruction of wild
forests and the damage of natural ecosystems that has greatly contributed to the
mass extinction of species. The number of threatened species persists to
multiply worldwide whereas some have completely gone extinct. This is because of
the human activities such as acidifying water systems, over-exploitation of
natural resources, overpopulation, and the deliberate and indirect destruction
of natural systems necessary for the survival of different species. These
anthropogenic activities simply alter the natural process combined, thus,
destroying the natural ecosystems supporting biodiversity.
Ozone Layer Depletion
Ozone layer is protecting the earth from ultraviolet ray’s emanates from sun.
These ultraviolet ray’s dangerous to the living beings. The presence of
chlorofluorocarbons, hydro chlorofluorocarbons in the atmosphere is causing the
ozone layer to deplete. As it will deplete, it will emit harmful radiations back
to the earth.
Loss for Tourism Industry:
Loss of green cover, loss of biodiversity, huge landfills, increased air and
water pollution affects the tourist places badly. Because of the same situation
the tourist interest reduced to visit the said places and thereby it affects the
To cope with the environmental degradation the countries have to spend money and
it impacts on Economy of the country as it is fundamental duty of every country
to protect our environment. The huge cost that a country may have to borne due
to environmental degradation can have big economic impact in terms of
restoration of green cover, cleaning up of landfills and protection of
Scarcity of Resources:
Resources are meant not only for utilization of present but for future
generation also. So it is very necessary to maintain a balance between growth of
population and utilization of resources which will ensure the continuity of the
Environmental degradation through aspects such as over-exploitation of natural
resources, pollution, and deforestation can contributes to the scarcity of
resources particularly arable land, water, genetic resources, medicinal plants,
and food crops.
Landfills increase the risk of hazardous materials getting into the food chain
which causes biomagnifications and the ultimate risk of developing chronic
diseases. Altogether, the toxic wastes and harmful chemicals from factories,
agriculture and automobiles cause illnesses and death in children and adults.
In the majority of developing countries, poverty is attributed to poor crop
harvests and lack of quality natural resources that are needed to satisfy basic
survival needs. The inadequacy basic survival resources and lack of quality of
food is the direct result of environmental degradation in the regions. Most
vulnerability situations brought about by water shortages, climate change, and
poor crop yields in developing countries are tied to environmental degradation.
Hence, the lack of access to adequate basic needs such as water and food
directly induce poverty.
Environmental degradation can alters some of the natural process such as the
water cycle and the normal processes of animal and plant activities. Also,
environmental degradation aspects such as deforestation and mining destroy the
natural land cover. This, together with air, water, and land pollution pose
several atmospheric alteration threats. The alterations include global warming
and climate change which can increase the risks of climatic natural disasters,
and ozone layer depletion which increases the risk of skin cancer, eye disease,
and crop failure.
Environmental Cases And Supreme Court Guidelines:
- Sanitation in Ratlam: In a landmark judgement in 1980, the Supreme Court
explicitly recognised the impact of a deteriorating urban environment on the
poor. It linked basic public health facilities to human rights and compelled the
municipality to provide proper sanitation and drainage. However, according to
numerous reports, little has changed in Ratlam today.
- Doon valley quarrying: In 1987, the Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra,
on the behalf of residents of the Doon valley, filed a case in the Supreme Court
against limestone quarrying. This case was the first requiring the Supreme Court
to balance environmental and ecological integrity against industrial demands on
forest resources. The courts directed the authorities to stop quarrying in the
Mussoorie hills, but today, mining continues unchecked in the interior valleys.
- Gas leak in Shriram factory: In the historic case of the oleum gas leak from
the Shriram Food and Fertiliser factory in Delhi, in 1986, the Supreme Court
ordered the management to pay compensation to the victims of the gas leak. The absolute liability of a hazardous chemical manufacturer to give compensation
to all those affected by an accident was introduced in this case and it was the
first time compensation was paid to victims.
- Construction in Silent Valley: In 1980, the Kerala High Court threw out a writ
filed by the Society for the Protection of the Silent Valley seeking a ban on
construction of a hydro-electric project in the valley. However, despite an
unfavourable judgement, active lobbying and grassroots action by
environmentalists stopped the project.
- Polluting the Ganga: In 1985, activist-advocate M C Mehta filed a writ
petition in the Supreme Court to highlight the pollution of the Ganga by
industries and municipalities located on its banks. In a historic judgement in
1987, the court ordered the closure of a number of polluting tanneries near
Kanpur. Justice E S Venkataramiah, in his judgement, observed: Just like
an industry which cannot pay minimum wages to its workers cannot be allowed
to exist, a tannery which cannot set up a primary treatment plant cannot be
permitted to continue to be in existence.
- Pollution in Bichhri: Effluents from an H-acid factory in Bichhri village in
Rajasthan has polluted the ground water of almost 60 wells, destroying crops and
orchards. A case was filed in the Supreme Court by the Indian Council for Enviro-Legal
Action in October 1989. Despite court orders in March 1990 to remove the sludge
from the factory, not only does the sludge still pollute Bichhri's drinking
water, but no compensation has been paid to the residents either.
- Mining in Sariska: A writ petition was filed in the Supreme Court in 1991 by
the Tarun Bharat Sangh to stop mining in the Sariska wildlife sanctuary. The
court banned mining in the sanctuary, but mining continues nevertheless.
Suggestions And Conclusion:
Nourish your Mother Earth, Mother Earth will nourish you.
Need to take steps to restore our planet Earth. Protect our environmental
I will suggest three principles to protect our environment
If we reduce our enhanced needs and greed’s which affects ultimately our
planet earth we can achieve our first principle.
If we try to re use the material which will protect our natural resources by
this way we can achieve our second principle.
If we recycle our waste material and garbage in to good product and environment
free from pollution by this way we can achieve our third principle.
Follow the above principles and start it as habit in your daily life from today
and you will get the nourishment from our Mother Earth. It is the assurance of
our healthy life.
Written By: Dr. Satish Sonone (LLM, Constitution)