Since the second half of the 20th century, rapid development was witnessed across the world which resulted in the rapid degradation of environment surrounding us. In the quest of development, man ignored the very environment which is vital for sustaining the life on the planet earth. The ruthless development increased the percentage of green house gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere which led to the rise in the long term mean temperature of the earth often called as global warming. The primary greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone.
GHGs and their concentration in the atmosphere is increased due to the burning of fossil fuels, clearing of forests etc. The global warming has increased the frequency of extreme weathers conditions like droughts, floods, cyclones etc. which would ultimately affect the crop production in almost all countries. Since agriculture sustains the life of the poorer sections of the society, changing weather pattern is putting their existence as well as food security at stake.
Projections by the International Energy Agency (IEA) say that annual medium temperatures could rise 5.3 degrees by the end of 21st century, if countries across the world don't take action. All the governments in the world realised the need of restoring the environment balance and therefore called for the sustainable development.
Sustainable development is defined as catering to the needs of present generation without comprising the needs of the future generation. In India too, several measures were undertaken to protect the environment like passing of Environment (Protection) Act 1986 which made it mandatory to get environment clearance for any big project.
For a country like India where substantial chunk of population could hardly meet its daily need, economic development is only pill which could pull these people from the quagmire of poverty. For the rapid economic development of the country, new projects like power plants, mines etc. needs to be implemented which are the core inputs for all other industries. However, in India apart from the bureaucratic red tape, such projects are often get stalled due to the objections by Environment Ministry. It often leads to the confrontation between environment ministry and other ministries.
If environment protection is the basic requirement for sustaining the healthy life on the globe, economic development is no less important to assure the quality of life of the inhabitants of the earth. If climate change is a reality encountered by the world, development is the basic requirement for reducing the economic and social inequality.
The only option left for the humans is to tread on the path of sustainable development which improves life of a person without adversely affecting the environment surrounding him. As once Mahatma Gandhi has said, “Earth provides enough to satisfy everyman’s need but not enough for any man’s greed”, sustainable development also calls for the development in perpetuity which is not possible if the environment is ignored.
It is true that clean technologies are bit expensive and increase the cost of production, the polluting technologies would cost more by increasing the expenditure on healthcare. The ‘polluter must pay’ principle should be adopted universally to generate the funds for environment protection.
It must be noted that environment protection is not to put environmentalist and developers at the loggerheads but to make development in synergy with the environment. In the quest of increasing the GDP, policy makers must not forget the Green GDP. Indeed, environment protection and economic development can go and must go hand in hand.