Weighing the cost

Goa will become the first state in the country to adopt national resource accounting

By Frederick Noronha
Published: Saturday 15 May 1999

goa will soon become the first state in the country to adopt national resource accounting -- a concept that weighs the environmental cost vis--vis economic growth. "This concept has been utilised for specific projects, but Goa will become the first region to adopt it for an entire state," says K S R V S Challam, director of Goa's planning and statistics department.

For some decades now, citizens of this small state on the western Indian coast have earned a reputation for their concern for the environment. Perhaps the changes taking place in this scenic region, and the higher-than-average affluence of many, have allowed and prompted citizens to worry about the ecology.

Taking note of the public's interest, administrators will soon work on an exercise that compares environmental costs with economic returns that the state is currently earning.

Tata Energy Research Institute ( teri ), a national-level research body, will undertake this project shortly. The Union government has approved Rs 12 lakh for the first phase of the project.

The state will evaluate the resources used in the agriculture, mining, coastal tourism, forests and fishing sectors. For many decades, citizens of interior Goa have complained about having to pay the 'price' for widespread mining, while mine owners and various governments have stressed on the economic benefits derived from mining.

Now, the environmental costs would also have to be accounted for to get an idea of the real gain. Says Challam: "Goa's current gross domestic product is Rs 24,000 crore. We need to understand what this figure actually will be after taking into account the resources utilised to earn it."

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