CSE-DTE mark World Environment Day with release of State of India’s Environment 2023: In Figures

A highlight of this year’s report is a ranking of Indian states on parameters like environment, agriculture, public health and infrastructure

By DTE Staff
Published: Sunday 04 June 2023

Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) and Down To Earth (DTE) released their annual compendium of data, State of India’s Environment 2023: In Figures, on June 4 — a day before World Environment Day 2023.

The report offers a wealth of statistics on the state of climate and extreme weather, health, food and nutrition, migration and displacement, agriculture, energy, waste, water and biodiversity.

Sunita Narain, CSE director general and editor of DTE, released The State of India’s Environment 2023: In Figures online on the eve of the World Environment Day.

She said:

Data is a great explainer. It tells the story at a glance and backs it up with evidence. The State of India’s Environment 2023: In Figures is our attempt to use the best available data points to tell you the story of India’s environmental performance: where it has faltered, where it has managed to move towards a sustainable existence, and where, if any, are the gaps in data.

“In this year’s report, we have – for the first time – analysed and ranked the performance of India’s states on four key parameters. The report makes sense of the state of affairs using data that otherwise remains cold statistics. As they say, what we can measure, we can fix. The State of India’s Environment 2023: In Figures does precisely that by quantifying the problems and indicating where they are,” said Richard Mahapatra, managing editor, DTE.

In terms of overall environmental performance, the report has ranked Telangana at the top for its progress in increasing its forest cover and in municipal waste treatment.

However, the state has performed below average in parameters such as “share of waterbodies not in use”, “stage of groundwater extraction” and “change in number of polluted river stretches”.

Gujarat, Goa and Maharashtra follow Telangana, in that order. The bottom rung is occupied by Rajasthan, Nagaland and Bihar. The bottom-ranked 10 states include six from the northeast, including Assam.

In agriculture, Madhya Pradesh takes the top slot for the highest share of net value added, and its jump in foodgrain production. However, almost half the crop area in the state remains un-insured.

Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh feature on the second, third and fourth spots. The bottom is populated by Delhi, Goa and Meghalaya, among others.

Delhi leads in public health — it has allocated the highest share of its budget to health and boasts of a robust network of healthcare facilities. It, however, has a low immunisation rate.

Sikkim, Goa and Mizoram follow Delhi.

Madhya Pradesh, which is at the bottom, has a high incidence of maternal mortality ratio and infant mortality rate. Chhattisgarh, Assam and Uttar Pradesh also range in the bottom half.

In public infrastructure and human development, Gujarat leads the rankings – it makes the cut for its performance in providing employment and tap water connections.

The state, however, ranks comparatively low in sex ratio and has a high proportion of rural households using unclean cooking fuels. Jharkhand occupies the bottom spot, and is preceded by Nagaland, Rajasthan and Arunachal Pradesh.

“Three key things emerge out of this ranking of states. One, we have found that in each theme, even the top-ranked states are struggling in some of the crucial indicators. Two, none of the states perform well across all four themes that are critical for sustainable development. And three, small states like Goa and Sikkim seem to be performing well,” Mahapatra noted.

There were some key findings in other areas as well.

In July 2022, when India banned single-use plastics, the Central Pollution Control Board had rolled out a mobile application called SUP-CPCB that allows citizens to complain about illegal plastic sale and use.

“A dismal redressal rate” has meant a declining number of complaints, the report has found.

In 2020-21, India generated over 160,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste a day — 32 per cent of this remained accounted for.

This unaccounted waste usually ends up choking drains or is burnt illegally. On the brighter side, India’s waste treatment and monitoring has improved, according to the analysis.

The average life expectancy of an Indian is likely to have shortened by four years and 11 months due to air pollution in 2020, the report found.

People in rural areas are likely to have been the worst hit, with their average life expectancy cut short by five years and two months. The life expectancy of their urban counterparts are nine months longer.

In 2022, India experienced extreme weather events on 314 of the 365 days – leading to a loss of over 3,026 lives and damage to 1.96 million hectares of crop area.

While heatwaves were common in the first part of 2022, hailstorms became the predominant extreme weather phenomena in 2023.

In 2022, the world saw over 60 million newly displaced people due to the Ukraine war and the La Nina weather phenomenon. In India, climate-induced disasters accounted for almost 100 per cent of the 2.51 million new displacements.

“We have sourced all the data from government and official documents and sources. For ranking the states, we have looked at 32 indicators under four themes for 29 states. The report’s first chapter clearly lays down the methodology used,” Kiran Pandey, programme director, environment resources unit, CSE and one of the lead analysts behind this report, stated.

Rajit Sengupta, associate editor, DTE and another lead analyst and author of the report, added: “We identified and compiled the data, and then standardised the numbers to make them comparable. Differential weightages were assigned to the indicators, and the final scores and rankings were computed thereafter.”

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