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Reality check of India's state of green

It takes more than nature's endowments to remain sustainable shows a new study on Indian states' green performance.

Shalini S. Dagar        Print Edition: February 21, 2010

Here's some food for thought. Abundance of natural resources in India does not mean anything when it comes to environmental preservation. States such as Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh rank poorly on environment preservation, while those like Goa, Orissa and Chattisgarh fare just marginally better. In contrast, states such as Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, despite rapid industrialisation and demographic pressures, have maintained environmental conditions.

These are the results of a study by Chennai-based Centre for Development Finance (CDF) on environment challenges and priorities faced by India's 29 states.

In what is an early effort into a topic gaining attention, CDF has computed an Environment Sustainability Index (ESI) score based on 40 indicators ranging from air and water quality to population pressure in relation to a state's resources and policy framework. The ranking shows how states fare relative to each other.

A low ESI for a state is as much a sign of pressure on its resources and environment as unresponsive institutions.

Northeastern and Himalyan states as also West Bengal and Kerala, CDF concludes, are the only ones that are maintaining themselves on the Green count as of now.

WHAT THE ENVIRONMENT SUSTAINABILITY INDEX (ESI) THROWS UP

Performance of states under nine thematic sub-indices:

  • Air quality and pollution: West Bengal and Uttaranchal score high on ESI but low on air quality.
  • Water quality, availability: UP, Haryana, Punjab, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Bihar face greater water stress and pollution.
  • Land use and agriculture: Himachal Pradesh, with 27 per cent of its land under grazing, faces highest soil erosion.
  • Forest and biodiversity: Sikkim tops here.it has a high land mass under forest cover, which is growing at 120 per cent.
  • Waste management: Gujarat, a chemicals industry hub, has the highest per capita hazardous waste.
  • Energy management: Focus on wind energy helps Tamil Nadu rank number 4 on this count.
  • Health impact: One in five people in Himachal Pradesh, Kerala prone to lung diseases.
  • Population pressure: Bihar, UP get dragged down on ESI on this indicator.
  • Environmental budget: Most states with higher ESI also spend more on environment sectors.

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