How many people can nature sustain? A proposed capacity study of the Kochi region of Kerala intends to find this out. The study of natural resources in the region to sustain a given population will be conducted by the Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI).
The 2-year multi-disciplinary study, sponsored by the Union ministry of environment and forests, is expected to cost Rs 5 crore, according to P Khanna, director of NEERI. The institute will be assisted in the task by local institutions like the Cochin University of Science & Technology and the Kerala Shastra Sahitya Parishad.
The study is significant because, according to Khanna, Kerala is the only state in the country which shows a deceleration in population growth. The region's natural carrying capacity will be measured with parameters such as the availability of clean air, water and land. Significantly, the capacity will not be based on the region's contribution to the country's GDP, but on the quality of life and assimilative capacity of the ecosystem that has lately been subjected to the vagaries of intensive industrialisation.
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