- India, which was ranked 141 out of total 180 countries on the Global Environmental Performance Index (EPI) rankings in 2016, has slipped further to the 177th position this year.
- Failure to improve its air quality, protect biodiversity and cut greenhouse gas emissions has been cited as the reason for placing the country at the bottom, according to the State of India’s Environment (SoE) 2018 in Figures.
- The SoE in Figures is an annual compendium of environmental statistics put together by Down To Earth magazine, which Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) helps publish.
- The country is far behind in achieving any of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and ranked at 116 out of 157.
- Six out of Ten Indians continue to be poor, surviving on less than the US $3.20 per day.
What does the SoE in Figures say about key environmental parameters?
- The state of our air: India scored 5.75 out of 100 in air quality.
- India’s disappointing performance and the gravity of the situation is further highlighted when compared with countries such as Switzerland and Japan which have scored over 90.
The state of our water
- The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation launched the “Har Ghar Jal Yojana” to provide piped water supply to every household by 2030 to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.
- However, in 18 Indian states and UTs, over 82 Percent rural households, which is the national average, remain without a tapped connection.
- The dependency on groundwater has increased between 2004 and 2013.
The state of our sanitation
- Under the Swachh Bharat scheme, 72.1 million individual household toilets in rural India have been constructed; however, little has been done to popularise their use.
The state of our energy
- After missing its targets for two consecutive years, the Centre, it appears, is fast losing interest in meeting its ambitious target of installing 175 gigawatts (GW) renewable energy by 2022.
- Centre’s Ujjwala Yojana has covered all states, but LPG distribution has taken place significantly in only 15 states. And even here, a substantial portion of rural population relies on unhealthy firewood for cooking.
The state of our forests
- While India’s total forest cover has registered a 0.2 Percent increase between 2015 and 2017, there are some serious concerns over the growth pattern.
- The bulk of the increase has taken place in the open forest category, which includes commercial plantations–which is worrying.
- Overall, there has been a 146 Percent increase in forestland diversion for non-forest activities in the past one year with maximum diversions recorded in Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Odisha.
- Increasing number of forest fires in the country–which have gone up by 125 Percent within just two years (2015-2017).
The SoE on environmental crimes
- Since the National Green Tribunal (NGT) was set up in 2010, the number of environment-related police cases seem to be gradually decreasing.
- However, the number of court cases has drastically gone up.