5 Biggest Environmental Issues in India in 2023

1. Air Pollution

Undoubtedly one of the most pressing environmental issues in India is air pollution. According to the 2021 World Air Quality Report, India is home to 63 of the 100 most polluted cities, with New Delhi named the capital with the worst air quality in the world. The study also found that PM2.5 concentrations – tiny particles in the air that are 2.5 micrometres or smaller in length – in 48% of the country’s cities are more than 10 times higher than the 2021 WHO air quality guideline level. 

Vehicular emissions, industrial waste, smoke from cooking, the construction sector, crop burning, and power generation are among the biggest sources of air pollution in India. The country’s dependence on coal, oil, and gas due to rampant electrification makes it the world’s third-largest polluter, contributing over 2.65 billion metric tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere every year.  

The months-long lockdown imposed by the government in March 2020 to curb the spread of Covid-19 led to a halt in human activities. This unsurprisingly, significantly improved air quality across the country. When comparing the Air Quality Index (AQI) data for 2019 and 2020, the daily average AQI in March-April 2019 was 656, the number drastically dropped by more than half to 306 in the same months of 2020.  

2. Water Pollution

Among the most pressing environmental issues in India is also water pollution. The Asian country has experienced unprecedented urban expansion and economic growth in recent years. This, however, comes with huge environmental costs. Besides its air, the country’s waterways have become extremely polluted, with around 70% of surface water estimated to be unfit for consumption. Illegal dumping of raw sewage, silt, and garbage into rivers and lakes severely contaminated India’s waters. The near-total absence of pipe planning and an inadequate waste management system are only exacerbating the situation. Every day, a staggering 40 million litres of wastewater enter rivers and other water bodies. Of these, only a tiny fraction is adequately treated due to a lack of adequate infrastructure.

In middle-income countries like India, water pollution can account for the loss of up to half of GDP growth, a World Bank report suggests. Water pollution costs the Indian government between USD$6.7 and $7.7 billion a year and is associated with a 9% drop in agricultural revenues as well as a 16% decrease in downstream agricultural yields.

Besides affecting humans, with nearly suffering from waterborne diseases like typhoid, cholera, and hepatitis and nearly 400,000 fatalities each year, water pollution also damages crops, as infectious bacteria and diseases in the water used for irrigation prevent them from growing. Inevitably, freshwater biodiversity is also severely damaged. The country’s rivers and lakes often become open sewers for residential and industrial waste. Especially the latter – which comprises a wide range of toxic substances like pesticides and herbicides, oil products, and heavy metals – can kill aquatic organisms by altering their environment and making it extremely difficult for them to survive.

3. Food and Water Shortages

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), India is the country expected to pay the highest price for the impacts of the climate crisis. Aside from extreme weather events such as flash floods and widespread wildfires, the country often experiences long heatwaves and droughts that dry up its water sources and compromise crops. 

Since March 2022 – which was the hottest and driest month recorded in 120 years – the North West regions have been dealing with a prolonged wave of scorching and record-breaking heat. For several consecutive days, residents were hit by temperatures surpassing 40 degrees Celsius, while in some areas, surface land temperatures reached up to 60C. There is no doubt among experts that this unprecedented heatwave is a direct manifestation of climate change.

The heatwave has also contributed to an economic slowdown due to a loss of productivity, as thousands of Indians are unable to work in the extreme heat. The agriculture sector – which employs over 60% of the population – is often hit hard by these erratic droughts, impacting food stability and sustenance. Currently, farmers are struggling to rescue what remains of the country’s wheat crops, piling on existing fears of a global shortage sparked by the war in Ukraine.

Already among the world’s most water-stressed countries, the heatwave is causing further water shortages across the nations. Even though water tankers are keeping communities hydrated, the supply is not enough to cover the needs of all residents. But heat is not the only factor contributing to water scarcity. In an interview with the Times of India, lead researcher at Pune-based Watershed Organisation Trust Eshwer Kale described the national water policy as very ‘irrigation-centric’. Indeed, over 85% of India’s freshwater is used in agriculture. This has led to a crisis in several states, including Punjab, Haryana, and western Uttar Pradesh. The indiscriminate use of water for irrigation, coupled with the absence of conservation efforts and the huge policy gap in managing water resources has left over 10% of the country’s water bodies in rural areas redundant. A 2019 report predicts that 21 major cities – including New Delhi and India’s IT hub of Bengaluru – will run out of groundwater by 2030, affecting nearly 40% of the population. 

4. Waste Management

Among the most pressing environmental issues in India is also waste. As the second-largest population in the world of nearly 1.4 billion people, it comes as no surprise that 277 million tonnes of municipal solid waste (MSW) are produced there every year. Experts estimate that by 2030, MSW is likely to reach 387.8 million tonnes and will more than double the current value by 2050. India’s rapid urbanisation makes waste management extremely challenging. Currently, about 5% of the total collected waste is recycled, 18% is composted, and the remaining is dumped at landfill sites.

The plastic crisis in India is one of the worst on the planet. According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), India currently produces more than 25,000 tonnes of plastic waste every day on average, which accounts for almost 6% of the total solid waste generated in the country. India stands second among the top 20 countries having a high proportion of riverine plastic emissions nationally as well as globally. Indus, Brahmaputra, and Ganges rivers are known as the ‘highways of plastic flows’ as they carry and drain most of the plastic debris in the country. Together with the 10 other topmost polluted rivers, they leak nearly 90% of plastics into the sea globally. 

5. Biodiversity Loss

Last but not least on the list of environmental issues in India is biodiversity loss. The country has four major biodiversity hotspots, regions with significant levels of animal and plant species that are threatened by human habitation: the Himalayas, the Western Ghats, the Sundaland (including the Nicobar Islands), and the Indo-Burma region. India has already lost almost 90% of the area under the four hotspots, according to a 2021 report issued by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), with the latter region being by far the worst affected.

Moreover, 1,212 animal species in India are currently monitored by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, with over 12% being classified as ‘endangered’. Within these hotspots, 25 species have become extinct in recent years.

Due to water contamination, 16% of India’s freshwater fish, molluscs, dragonflies, damselflies, and aquatic plants are threatened with extinction and, according to the WWF and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), freshwater biodiversity in the country has experienced an 84% decline. However, given these activities’ dramatic consequences on biodiversity, committing to end and reverse deforestation should be a priority for India.

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Climate change and biodiversity

In the atmosphere, gases such as water vapour, carbon dioxide, ozone, and methane act like the glass roof of a greenhouse by trapping heat and warming the planet. These gases are called greenhouse gases. The natural levels of these gases are being supplemented by emissions resulting from human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels, farming activities and land-use changes. As a result, the Earth’s surface and lower atmosphere are warming, and this rise in temperature is accompanied by many other changes.Rising levels of greenhouse gases are already changing the climate.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group I (WGI) Fourth Assessment Report, from 1850 to 2005, the average global temperature increased by about 0.76ºC and global mean sea level rose by 12 to 22 cm during the last century. These changes are affecting the entire world, from low-lying islands in the tropics to the vast polar regions.Climate change predictions are not encouraging; according to the IPCC WGI Fourth Assessment Report, a further increase in temperatures of 1.4°C to 5.8°C by 2100 is projected. Predicted impacts associated with such temperature increase include: a further rise in global mean sea level, changes in precipitation patterns, and more people at risk from dangerous “vector-borne diseases” such as malaria.

Vulnerability of biodiversity to the impacts of climate change

The present global biota has been affected by fluctuating Pleistocene (last 1.8 million years) concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide, temperature, precipitation, and has coped through evolutionary changes, and the adoption of natural adaptive strategies. Such climate changes, however, occurred over an extended period of time in a landscape that was not as fragmented as it is today and with little or no additional pressure from human activities. Habitat fragmentation has confined many species to relatively small areas within their previous ranges, resulting in reduced genetic variability. Warming beyond the ceiling of temperatures reached during the Pleistocene will stress ecosystems and their biodiversity far beyond the levels imposed by the global climatic change that occurred in the recent evolutionary past.Current rates and magnitude of species extinction far exceed normal background rates. Human activities have already resulted in the loss of biodiversity and thus may have affected goods and services crucial for human well-being. The rate and magnitude of climate change induced by increased greenhouse gases emissions has and will continue to affect biodiversity either directly or in combination with other drivers of change.

Links between biodiversity and climate change

There is ample evidence that climate change affects biodiversity. According to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, climate change is likely to become one of the most significant drivers of biodiversity loss by the end of the century. Climate change is already forcing biodiversity to adapt either through shifting habitat, changing life cycles, or the development of new physical traits.Conserving natural terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems and restoring degraded ecosystems (including their genetic and species diversity) is essential for the overall goals of both the Convention on Biological Diversity and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change because ecosystems play a key role in the global carbon cycle and in adapting to climate change, while also providing a wide range of ecosystem services that are essential for human well-being and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.Biodiversity can support efforts to reduce the negative effects of climate change. Conserved or restored habitats can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thus helping to address climate change by storing carbon (for example, reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation). Moreover, conserving in-tact ecosystems, such as mangroves, for example, can help reduce the disastrous impacts of climate change such as flooding and storm surges.

Ecosystem-based Adaptation

Ecosystem-based adaptation, which integrates the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services into an overall adaptation strategy, can be cost-effective and generate social, economic and cultural co-benefits and contribute to the conservation of biodiversity.Conservation and management strategies that maintain and restore biodiversity can be expected to reduce some of the negative impacts from climate change; however, there are rates and magnitude of climate change for which natural adaptation will become increasingly difficult. Options to increase the adaptive capacity of species and ecosystems in the face of accelerating climate change include:

  • Reducing non-climatic stresses, such as pollution, over-exploitation, habitat loss and fragmentation and invasive alien species.
  • Wider adoption of conservation and sustainable use practices including through the strengthening of protected area networks.
  • Facilitating adaptive management through strengthening monitoring and evaluation systems.

Ecosystem-based adaptation uses biodiversity and ecosystem services in an overall adaptation strategy. It includes the sustainable management, conservation and restoration of ecosystems to provide services that help people adapt to the adverse effects of climate change. Examples of ecosystem-based adaptation activities include:

  • Coastal defence through the maintenance and/or restoration of mangroves and other coastal wetlands to reduce coastal flooding and coastal erosion.
  • Sustainable management of upland wetlands and floodplains for maintenance of water flow and quality.
  • Conservation and restoration of forests to stabilize land slopes and regulate water flows.
  • Establishment of diverse agroforestry systems to cope with increased risk from changed climatic conditions.
  • Conservation of agrobiodiversity to provide specific gene pools for crop and livestock adaptation to climate change
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Urgent need for climate action

Nature has given us a bounty of resources for survival and we have time and again moulded the rules of nature according to our needs and wants . As a result , humanity today is facing serious problems such as global warming , forest fires , soil erosion , pollution etc. Some recent events such as forest fires in California , Nevada , Amazon forests and Spain , floods in China , Japan and India , Earthquakes in Northwest Asia have had very disastrous consequences .

The Corona virus pandemic very clearly states that when nature takes control , even human beings , the superior species cannot stand in front of it too long . Nature has a self sufficient and self fulfilling system where things take place in a meticulous manner . When someone tries to disrupt the process , disasters are bound to happen .

Melting galciers , Rising temperatures , droughts , floods , rising sea levels and ozone layer depletion are all life threatning consequences of reckless use if resources. The posterity is going to condemn us for our actions . The need of the hour is to immediately amend our actions and mold our goals according to the rules of nature , ensuring sustainability of the surroundings.

Importance of Trees

From childhood, we’ve heard that trees are our satisfactory pal however in realistic existence, we didn’t see anyone who treats trees as their pals. Even though they may be the most treasured existence supply on the earth. They benefit each life form in a direct or oblique way. And the earth is connected to them to maintain a herbal balance. In this essay on store trees, we are discussing the reason why our buddies want saving.

They nourish us and defend us in lots of approaches. Additionally, they keep our environment inexperienced and smooth. So, it becomes our duty to pay off them for the matters they do for us by way of saving them. Except, massive timber are extra useful than small ones due to the fact they capture greater carbon, seize greater water, combat the heat, clear out greenhouse gases, offers refuge from warmth and daylight, and so on. So, it may be stated that we depend on them extra in preference to they on us.

Benefits and significance of trees
As we have mentioned the advantages of trees in quick however right here we’re going to speak about them in element. Flora and bushes fight the climatic modifications which might be destroying the earth. In addition they clear out the air that we breathe and soak up all the damaging chemical gases and odors from the surroundings. Additionally, they soak up the damaging carbon dioxide and offers out oxygen.

They may be true for the diversity of flora and fauna. They give us meals, safe haven and many more things that we can’t matter. Besides, they in no way demand something from us and also save you soil erosion, water evaporation. Peculiarly, they manage and manipulate the consequences of wind, sun and, rain.

Why should we save trees?
The human has turn out to be aware and severe about this problem and started doing the nice they are able to do to store bushes. The woodland departments and authorities have banned the unlawful slicing of trees. And they are going virtual as a way to shop paper for you to reduce the range of trees reduce down for making paper.

Other than that, the wooded area area after reducing of bushes need to be replanted with new ones. Also, we must train our youngsters to plant trees and ask them to pass it on their pals and buddies.

The least that we will do is to plant a few pots in our home rooftops or lawn and ask our neighbor to do the same. Additionally, if we see the removal of a tree then we ought to inform the neighborhood authority approximately it to create consciousness. Specially, strict laws have to be made for people who illegally or without permission reduce those trees for his or her personal blessings.

The numerous existence form is able to live to tell the tale on this planet because of flora. If we dispose of plant life from the earth even for sooner or later then the survival of guy turns into difficult.

Besides, they’re the supply of water and clean oxygen on the planet. Cutting of trees will lead to destroying the human existence on the earth. So, the time has come that we to be aware of the problems we will be facing due to large deforestation and we should start taking preventive measures to stop it.