Is Narmada water being made to flow in Sabarmati not supplied to city of Ahmedabad? This has furthered the idea of river...
I have been selling glass for commercial buildings talking about light, thermal/solar heat gain etc.etc..but I...
Dear Saxena ji,
Thank you for inquiry.
West facing windows can be a big source of heat, first measure which you...
PRIME Minister P V Narasimha Rao's government has taken dramatic
steps in less than a year of its existence towards a liberalised
regime for the industrial sector. If the new policies indeed
lead to increased economic activity, there will be greater
pressures operating on the natural environment. Given India's
people, almost every ecological space within the country is being
used by different occupational groups for their survival. There
are no virgin lands left to exploit. Ecological destruction has,
as a result, invariably led to social injustice in the past.
Industrial development and market-oriented agriculture will
demand the same natural resources on which the subsistence of
millions depends. The politically powerful sectors will want to
obtain their raw materials and resource inputs as cheaply and
with as limited environmental restrictions as possible. This is
not unique to India. Western industry has accepted increasing
environmental controls in home countries, because of growing
domestic green pressure, but it has thrived on uninhibited
resource exploitation in developing countries. International
monetary policies have consistently devalued local currencies and
have made southern resources cheaper in the world markets.
It is unlikely that Indian industry will develop the clout
to exploit the environment of other countries for its
development, nor would it be morally acceptable to world opinion.
Indian industrial development will, therefore, concentrate its
resource pressures on the Indian environment. In this situation,
environmental protection must become a major element of
Indeed, few in the government would deny this logic and most
would accept the need to strengthen environmental controls. With
liberalisation, the government's control systems have partially
moved away from the traditional gatekeepers like the ministries
of industry and finance to the ministry of environment. The
effectiveness of environment protection policies will, however,
depend more on the nature of environmental institutions created.
One solution will be to repose greater faith in the same
systems of governance the International Monetary System (IMF)
would wish the government to dissolve for the industrial sector.
This would mean greater powers for the bureaucracy, especially
the bureaucracy that controls natural resources like forests,
land and water. But, given the past experience, can we expect
the bureaucracy to shield or improve the environment despite the
enormous pressures which the growing and increasingly liberalised
economic sectors will exert?
In our view the chances are dim. Any effort to mitigate
this threat to the environment should lie with the people who are
likely to suffer from environmental destruction. People
themselves must be empowered to protect themselves.
In the West, for instance, the liberalisation of the 1980s
was not quite so untrammelled, despite the early policies of
Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, because of public pressure.
Environment was one area in which controls grew during the 1980s
in both Europe and North America. The foremost of these was
greater transparency and accountability.
Take the simple case of information about potential hazards
to the environment. In most countries of the West, environmental
impact assessments of development projects which could have
adverse impacts for people's health and environment, are freely
available to the local people. In Australia, for instance, these
documents, including those dealing with the most contentious of
projects, are prominently displayed in the reception offices of
environment ministries. But in India, these documents are
considered confidential and available only to a privileged few.
Apart from information, people must be given control over
the governance of their resources. For this they must have legal
control and open, democratic and accessible institutions at the
grassroots level to express themselves.
Natural resource management is a complex subject in a
country like India as it involves intensely difficult tradeoffs.
Who should decide upon these tradeoffs ? A distant political-
bureaucratic system or the people themselves. "Conditionalities"
over resource use should be imposed by rural and urban
In the present system, most natural resources are controlled
by government agencies. In a situation of high growth, the
political and pecuniary pressure on them to yield or collude will
What we could easily get in such a situation is an
exacerbation of the trends that have dominated resource
management since Independence. An excellent example being the
cheap rates at which bamboo contracts were made by forest
agencies with paper mills to promote industrial development.
Water is another area where the price of the resource does not
represent either its scarcity value or the ecological costs
involved in its storage and delivery.
All this is not to argue that the Indian political-
bureaucratic is good or bad, honest or corrupt, efficient or
lazy, or competent or callous. Numerous honest officials have
themselves tried hard to fight the system. But the system itself
is flawed when resources are controlled by one set of people
while the consequences of their decisions are suffered by
Environmental management aims to internalise the ecological
costs of production and, thus, send appropriate signals about
resource scarcity to the market. But market prices are the
result of negotiations between buyers and sellers. Weak sellers
can never demand high prices. It is, therefore, vital to
communitise natural resource management in a way that decisions
on alternate and competing uses of resources can be made keeping
the ecological and social costs of resource degradation in mind,
regardless of whether the resource is being used by economic
agents internal to the communities concerned or by external