POPULATION AND ENVIRONMENT IN INDIA Abstract


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POPULATION AND ENVIRONMENT IN INDIA
Abstract
Rapid population growth and economic development in country are threatening the environment through expansion and intensification of agriculture, uncontrolled growth of urbanization and industrialization, and destruction of natural habitats. The present paper is an attempt to study the population change and its impacts on land, forest and water resources. The data have been analyzed from various secondary sources of data. Conducted an analysis of changes and trends over last forty years. The analysis reveals that outcomes of high population growth rates are increasing population density and number of people below poverty line. Population pressure contributes to land degradation and soil erosion, thus affecting productive resource base of the economy. Rapid population growth plays an important role in declining per capita agricultural land, forest and water resources. The importance of population and environment has been highlighted. The paper concludes with some policy reflections and emphasizes the potential importance of natural resources.

POPULATION AND ENVIRONMENT IN INDIA
Introduction
The rapid population growth and economic development in country are threatening the environment through the expansion and intensification of agriculture, the uncontrolled growth of urbanization and industrialization and the destruction of natural habitats. One of the major causes of environmental degradation in India could be attributed to rapid growth of population, which is adversely affecting the natural resources and environment. The growing population and the environmental deterioration face the challenge of sustained development without environmental damage. The existence or the absence of favorable natural resources can facilitate or retard the process of economic development. The poverty-environmental damage nexus in India must be seen in the context of population growth as well. The pressures on the environment intensify every day as the population grows. The rapid increase of human numbers combines with desperate poverty and rising levels of consumption are depleting natural resources on which the livelihood of present and future generations depends.
As the 21st century begins, growing number of people and rising levels of consumption per capita are depleting natural resources and degrading the environment. Though the relationship is complex, population size and growth tend to expand and accelerate these human impacts on the environment. What is more concern, the number of population rise will increase to such an extent in future that it will cause overall scarcity for resources. India is having 18 percent of the world's population on 2.4 percent of its land area has great deal of pressure on its all natural resources. The increase of population has been tending towards alarming situation. Population Reference Bureau estimated the 6.14 billion world's population in mid 2001. Contribution of India alone to this population was estimated to be 1033 millions. It is estimated that the country’s population will increase to 1.26 billion by the year 2016. The projected population indicates that India will be a first most populous country in the world and China will be second in 2050. If the world population continues to multiply, the impact on environment could be devastating.
The availability of cultivation land per capita in India has declined from 0.89 ha in 1951 to 0.33 ha in 2000 A.D. Globally, about 1/3 of agricultural land is devoted to crops and the remaining 2/3 is devoted to pasture for livestock grazing. Lack of pastureland to poor mass also affects environment. In India, pastures and grazing land hardly occupy 40 percent of agricultural land, although we have over 20 percent of the world's cattle, buffalo, sheep and goat population. Overgrazing of all community lands has converted them in to barren lands. The growing trends of population and consequent demand for food, energy, and housing have considerably altered land-use practices and severely degraded India's forest vis-à-vis environment also. The growing population put immense pressure on land extensification at cost of forests and grazing lands because the demand of food could not increase substantially to population. Thus, horizontal extension of land has fewer scopes and relies mostly on vertical improvement that is supported by technical development in the field of agriculture i.e. HYV seeds, Fertilizers, Pesticides, Herbicides, and agricultural implements. All these practices causing degradation and depletion of environment with multiplying ratio. Poverty, is amongst the consequences of population growth and its life style play major role in depleting the environment either its fuel demands for cooking
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or for earning livelihood for their survival. The unequal distribution of resources and limited opportunities cause push and pull factor for people living below poverty line that in turn overburdened the population density and environment get manipulated by manifolds.
Population growth in India
India is the second most populous country in the world after China. Recently, the population of India has crossed the one billion marks. According to the Census of India 2001, the population of India on 1st March 2001 is 1027 millions. About 17 Million people, almost the size of Australia's population, are added each year to India's population. It is a matter of great concern to all that India needs to support this massive and rapidly growing population on a land area that is less than one-half of Australia's land area. Recent trends of population show that India's population doubled in just two decades and it is estimated that next would be in 10 to 15 years time to take its double. During the 20th century alone about 600 million more people have been added. Most of this massive 20th century increase in India's population has come during the postIndependence period. Table 1 presents one hundred years of demographic changes in India. Around 1911, the population growth rate in India was under 1 percent, and during 1911 to 1921 it was actually negative. This was mainly because mortality levels before were nearly as high as fertility levels. Since 1921, there has been a continuous decline in the death rate. Many factors, such as the disappearance of plague and control over cholera, malarial fever, and other infectious diseases, as well as improvements in food production and distribution systems and progress in public health and sanitation, have contributed to improvements in mortality conditions, especially after the Second world War when death rates fell at a faster rate (Coale and Hoover 1958). Infant mortality rate declined from over 200 around 1921 to 66 in 2001, and life expectancy at birth for both male and females increased from little more than 20 years in 1921 to 61 years during 19931997.
Fertility did not decline as fast as mortality. The birth rate stayed well above 40 for most part of the pre- independence period and for about two decades after independence. It was not until the late 1960s, when family planning efforts were increased, that fertility started to fall. But these benefits were significantly mitigated by an unduly coercive approach to family planning during the emergency period in the mid 1970s.The family planning program has since recovered. According to the Sample Registration System, the birth rate is 25.4 births per 1000 population per year in 2001. The differential changes in fertility and mortality after 1921 are clearly reflected in the widening gap between the birth rate and death rate. After independence it experience steady rate of population growth, it can visualize that during a period of 40 years India literally added another India. Though the growth rate appears to have stopped increasing, its level is still quite high. At the time of independence, the country's population was 342 million. The number has multiplied three-fold during five decades. The total population size of India had grown from 361 million in 1951 to 1027 million in 2001.
Population Distribution in the States of India
The growth of population, distribution and density of population are interrelated with each other. It is important to note that the population in the states is not always proportionate to the area of
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the states. People move more in areas where employment opportunities are available by way of agriculture or industry and less in forest and dry areas. Since majority of the population in the country depends upon agriculture, variation in population distribution is related with the agricultural potentialities, which are mostly affected by natural conditions such as climate, soil, rainfall and temperature. The various natural factors, urbanization and industrialization have played a dominant role in the distribution of population in different states of India. The state-wise distribution of population for the four census years from 1971 to 2001 is presented in Table 2. India is the second most populous country of the world. The population of India increased from 548 million in 1971 to 1027 million in 2001. The population has been increasing at more than a desirable rate in all the states. Wide variations have also been observed in the growth of population among various states. It can be seen from the table that in census year 1971, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar were the most populous state in the country with 16.12 percent and 10.28 percent to the total population whereas in the census year 2001, Uttar Pradesh remains the most populous followed by Maharashtra and Bihar. The percentage of population is still higher in eight states namely, U.P, Bihar, M.P, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan. Among the states, Uttar Pradesh is a highest populous state in the country. The population of this state was 8.83 million in 1971, which increased to 16.60 million in 2001. The lowest population was recorded in Nagaland. While among the Union Territory, Delhi is the most populous, whereas L. M. and A. islands is the least populous union territory. These differences might be due to the poverty, illiteracy and inadequate access to health and family welfare services, which coexist and reinforce each other. The five states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh that currently constitute nearly 402.49 million population to the total population of India. Demographic outcomes in these states will determine the timing and size of population at which India achieves population stabilization.
Growth Rates of Population in the states of India
The percentage decadal and annual growth rate of different states and Union Territory as recorded in various censuses from 1971 to 2001 are presented in Table 3 and 4. The percentage decadal growth rate during 1991-2001 has registered the sharpest decline since independence. It has declined from 24.80 percent in 1961-71 to 21.35 percent in 1991-2001, i.e. a decrease of 3.45 percent. The percentage decadal growth of population during 1961-71 has recorded low of 15.61 percent in Jammu and Kashmir, while the highest in Delhi (52.93 percent), Nagaland with 39.84 percent, Aruanchal Pradesh with 38.99 percent, Manipur (37.44 percent), Tripura (36.25 percent), Goa (34.97 percent) and Assam (34.95 percent) and very high growth also recorded in one small Union Territory, Andman and Nicobar Island with 82.54 percent. Whereas during 1991-2001, the decadal percentage growth varied from a low of 9.42 percent in Kerala to a very high 64.43 percent in Nagaland followed by Delhi (46.31 percent), Chandigarh (40.19 percent), Sikkim (33.0 percent) rates and small Union Territory of Dadar and Nagar Haveli also registered very high growth rates. Kerala and two other major States in Southern India i.e. Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh reported low growth rates during 1991-2001. The percentage annual exponential growth rate in states and Union Territory of India has declined from 2.24 percent in 1961-71 to 1.95 percent in 1991-2001. The average annual exponential growth rate has declined during the census decades 1991-2001 as compared to the previous census decade in all the states and Union Territories except Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar, Nagaland, and Dadar and Nagar Haveli etc.
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Population Density in the States of India
The density of population varies from state to state. Density of population can be used as an indicator to measure the population pressure on land area. The present study will attempt to examine the population density per square Km. of total land area only. The density of population per square Km. of total land area from 1971 to 2001 is shown in Table 5. There has been an increase in the population density in all the states of India from 1971 to 2001. West Bengal is having the highest population density whereas Arunachal Pradesh is having the lowest population density. In 1971 and 1981 there were 9 states and 5 union territories with higher population density as compared to 9 states and 6 union territories in 1991 and increased to 11 states and 6 union territories in 2001 as compared to national average. When the rate of increase in different states is examined, West Bengal and Bihar has recorded the highest population density during the 30 years period from 1971 to 2001. The third, fourth and fifth positions have been taken by Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh respectively. Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Mizoram, Sikkim and Andaman and Nicobar Islands registered a lower percentage of increase in population density than national average during 2001. There were 14 states and 1 union territory with lower population density as compared to national average. It is clear from table that average population density at the national level had increased by more than double in the last three decades. Population density in Bihar, Haryana, Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal is very high (more than 400 persons per square Km. of total land area).
Trends in poverty and its environmental effects in India
Most of India's poor live in rural areas and are engaged in agriculture. India, with a high density of population relative to resources, faces developmental challenges in alleviating massive poverty and deprivation, and in raising the quality of life of poor people. The growth performance of states has crucial implications in poverty reduction, which is an important objective of the economic policy. India's poverty reductions through the anti-poverty and employment generation programmes along with overall economic growth-planning efforts have helped to reduce the poverty ratio in the country. The trends in poverty in India are depicted in Table 6. The people below the poverty line have declined from 55 percent in 1973 to 26 percent in 1999-2000 for India as a whole. Nineteen states and union territories have lesser percentage of population below poverty line than the national average. There are wide interstate variations in the poverty ratios of different states. The poverty ratio in Orissa at 47.15 percent is about eight times that in Punjab (6.16 percent). Almost half the population in Orissa and Bihar is below the poverty line. On the other hand there are 14 states, which have less than 20 percent of population below the poverty line. The highest percentage of population below poverty line found in Orissa, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh whereas the lowest percentage of population below poverty line found in Jammu and Kashmir, Goa, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana. Poverty is said to be both cause and effect of environment degradation. The poverty and rapid population growth are found to coexist and thus seems to reinforcing each other. The poor people, who rely on natural resources more than the rich, deplete natural resources faster as they have no real prospects of gaining access to other types of resources. Poorer people, who cannot meet their subsistence needs through purchase, are forced to use common property resources such as forests for food and fuel, pastures for fodder, and ponds and rivers for water. In the absence of capital resources, the poor are directly
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dependent on natural resources. Moreover degraded environment can accelerate the process of impoverishment, again because the poor depend directly on natural assets. It also contributes to environmental degradation through over exploitation of natural resources like land and water. The deterioration of natural resources and unsafe living conditions affects the environment and health of the poor people.
Environmental challenges
Population growth and economic development are contributing to many serious environmental problems in India. These include pressure on land, deforestation and water scarcity and water pollution.
Pressure on land
India faces the most acute pressure on agricultural land. Over the past fifty years, while India's total population increased by about 3 times, the total area of land under cultivation increased by only 15.92 percent from 118.75 to 141.23 million hectares. Despite past expansion of the area under cultivation, less agricultural land is available to feed each person in India. A change in land utilization pattern implies an increase or decrease in the proportion of area under different land uses at a point in two or more time periods. Table 7 describes the land utilization pattern in India from 1951 to 2000. It shows variations in land use and a narrow range of fluctuations in the proportion of net sown area to total land in the country since 1951 to 2000. Out of total geographical area of 329 million hectares, only 306 million hectares is the reporting area (the rest being unadministered for various reasons). The land for non-agricultural uses (housing, industry and others) is increased from 9.36 million hectares in 1951 to 42.41 million hectares in 2000. About 19 million hectares are snow bound and remote leaving only 264 million hectare for agriculture, forestry, pasture and other biomass production. The area under cultivation had increased by about 30 percent until 1981 and thereafter depicts marginal decline. The net sown area increased from 119 million hectares in 1950-51 to 140 million hectares in 1970-71 mostly through reclamation of old fallow and culturable wastelands and diversion of groves. The net area sown has increased only marginally from 140 million hectares in 1970-71 to 141.23 million hectares in 1999-2000, indicating that the private efforts have peaked and the intervention of the Government is required for further land reclamation.
The extent of agricultural intensification and extensification characterized by increase in cropping and irrigation intensity and higher use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides. The process of agricultural extensification and intensification is leading to land degradation, overexploitation of underground water resources, increased use of chemical fertilizers leading to eutrophication and water pollution. Agricultural intensification because of increasing cropping intensity, irrigation intensity and excessive use of chemical fertilizers resulting into water logging, salinization and alkalinization of croplands and eutrophication of water bodies and ill health of oceans and thus reductions in biodiversity.
Land/Soil degradation
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Direct impacts of agricultural development on the environment arise from farming activities, which contribute to soil erosion, land salination and loss of nutrients. The spread of green revolution has been accompanied by over exploitation of land and water resources and use of fertilizers and pesticides have increased many folds. Shifting cultivation has also been an important cause of land degradation. Leaching from extensive use of pesticides and fertilizers is an important source of contamination of water bodies. Intensive agriculture and irrigation contribute to land degradation particularly salination, alkalization and water logging. It is evident that most of the land in the country is degrading, thus affecting the productive resource base of the economy. Out of the total geographical area of 328.7 million hectares, 175 million hectares are considered to be land-degraded area (Table 8). Water and wind erosion is the major contributor of 141.3 million hectares to soil erosion, with other factors like water logging 8.5 million hectares, alkali soil 3.6 million hectares, acid soil 4.5 million hectares, saline soil including coastal sandy areas 5.5 million hectares adding to the situ degradation. While soil erosion by rain and river in hill areas causes landslides and floods, deforestation, overgrazing, traditional agricultural practices, mining and incorrect siting of development projects in forest areas have resulted in opening up of these areas to heavy soil erosion. Ravines and gullies reported 4 million hectares; area subject to shifting cultivation reported 4.9 million hectares and riverine and torrents erosion due to floods and eutrophication due to agricultural run off reported 2.7 million hectares. The increasing intensification and extensification also results in salination, alkalization and water logging in irrigated areas of the country. For achieving and maintaining food security, sustainable forestry, agricultural and rural developments controlling of land/soil erosion is very much necessary.
State wise area affected by soil erosion and land degradation in India
Land is degraded when it suffers a loss of intrinsic qualities, decline in its capabilities or loss in its productive capacity. Land degradation may be due to natural causes or human causes or it may be due to combination of both. Soil erosion is the major cause of land degradation. Soil is the non-renewable natural resource, which supports life on earth. The estimated state wise area affected by soil erosion and land degradation in India during 1984 is given in Table 9. The estimated area affected by soil erosion and land degradation is considered to be 1731.1 lakh hectares in India during 1984. Land affected by soil erosion is the major contributor of 1266.2 Lakh hectares and land degraded through other problems is 465 lakh hectares. The highest estimated land affected by soil erosion and land degradation is 374 lakh hectares (21.6 percent) in Rajasthan, land affected by soil erosion contributes to 199 lakh hectares and 175 lakh hectares through other problems. The estimated land affected by soil erosion and land degradation varies from 78 lakh hectares to 207 lakh hectares (4.5 percent to 12 percent) in Orissa, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. The estimated land affected by soil erosion was highest in Rajasthan (199 lakh hectares), Madhya Pradesh (196.1 lakh hectares), Maharastra (191.8 lakh hectares), Andhra Pradesh (115 lakh hectares), Karnataka (109.9 lakh hectares), Gujarat (99.5 lakh hectares) and Uttar Pradesh (71.1 lakh hectares). The estimated land degraded through other problems was highest in Rajasthan (174.9 lakh hectares), followed by Uttar Pradesh (60.1 lakh hectares), West Bengal (32.7 lakh hectares), Orissa (32.3 lakh hectares), Gujarat (26.4 lakh hectares) and Haryana (25.7 lakh hectares). The estimated area of land affected by soil erosion and land degradation in India varies state to state and it varies 0.1
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percent in Goa to 21.6 percent in Rajasthan. Soil erosion results in huge loss of nutrients in suspension or solution, which are removed away from one place to another, thus causing depletion or enrichment of nutrients. Besides the loss of nutrients from top soil, there is also degradation through the creation of gullies and ravines, which make the land unsuitable for agricultural production.
Deforestation
Forests are an important natural resource of India. They have moderate influence against floods and thus they protect the soil erosion. Forests also play an important role in enhancing the quality of environment by influencing the ecological balance and life support system (checking soil erosion, maintaining soil fertility, conserving water, regulating water cycles and floods, balancing carbon dioxide and oxygen content in atmosphere etc. India has a forest cover of 76.52 million square kilometers of recorded forest area, while only 63.34 million square kilometers can be classified as actual forest cover. This accounts for 23.28 percent of total geographic area against 33 percent recommended by National Forest Policy of 1988. Per capita availability of forests in India is much lower than the world average. In the year 2001, as compared to 1999, the total forest cover had increased by 38245 Sq. Kilometers. The states, which have shown significant decline in the forest covers, are Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Whereas the states of Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujrat, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan and West Bengal have shown an increase in forest cover. However, it has increased in 1999 by 3896 square Kilometers as compared to 1997 and it has decreased by 6203 Sq. Kilometers in 1997 as compared to 1995 and it has again decreased by 1228 Sq. Kilometers in 1995 as compared to 1993 (Table 10).
In 1981-83, only 11.2 percent of country's total land area comprises dense forest with a crown density of more than 40 percent, thus reflecting a qualitative decline of forests in the country. The total forest area diverted for non-forestry purposes between 1950 and 1980 was 4.5 million hectares i.e. at an annual rate of 0.15 million hectare. To regulate unabated diversion of forestland for non-forestry purposes, Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 was enacted. It has resulted in reduction of diversion of forest area for non-forestry purposes considerably and the present rate of diversion is 16,000 hectare annually (Economic Survey of India, 1998-99). Continuing deforestation, therefore, has brought us face to face with a major ecological and socio-economic crisis.
Declining Per Capita Forest and Agricultural Land
The population growth has resulted in a downward trend in per capita availability of forest and agricultural land since the 1950s. The per capita availability of forest and agricultural land is depicted in Table 11. Overall, per capita availability of forestland had oscillated around 0.113 hectare during 1950s, and then consistently declined. The per capita availability of forest land declined from 0.124 hectares per capita during 1960-61 to 0.071 hectares in 1998-99- a level that is extremely low compared to the world standards. The growth of population is expected to be faster than hoped for improvements in forest cover as well as quality. Despite governmental initiatives of joint forest management, tree grower's co-operative movements etc. Over the last
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ten years, tangible results are still to be observed, and forest depletion and degradation is still increasing. Similarly, the per capita availability of agricultural land in rural areas decline consistently from 0.638 hectare in 1950-51 to 0.271 hectare in 1998-99. Availability is expected to decline further as population continues to grow. Ground Water Resources, Water scarcity and water pollution
Water use in India has been increased over the past 50 years. Out of the total replenishable ground water; about 84 percent is made available for agriculture and livestock, the rest 16 percent is made available for domestic consumption, industrial use and power generation. However, not all the water abstracted is effectively used, there are sizable losses in conveyance and application of irrigated water, a large part of water used by industry and domestic purposes is returned to the streams as effluent waste; and most of the water drawn by power station is used for cooling purposes and is available for reuse. The ground water resource in India is presented in Table 12. Out of the total replenishable ground water resource of 43.38 MhaM/Yr, the largest share goes to utilizable ground water resource for irrigation at 36.26 MhaM/Yr and 7.12 MhaM/Yr provision for domestic, industrial and other uses. Balance ground water resource for future use in net terms is 22.73 MhaM/Yr. Level of ground water development is 37.24 percent. The amount of water available per person has declined in recent decades primarily because of population growth and water scarcity is projected to worsen in the future. The water pollution in India comes from three main sources: domestic sewage, industrial effluents and run off from activities such as agriculture. Major industrial sources of pollution in India include the fertilizer plants, refineries, pulp and paper mills, leather tanneries, metal plating and other chemical industries. Levels of solid wastes increased in rivers and lakes and other water systems are also heavily polluted due to the intrusion of solid wastes. Largely because of widespread pollution, access to safe drinking water remains an urgent need as only 70.1 percent of the households in urban areas and 18.7 percent in rural areas received organized pipe water supply and others have to depend on surface and ground water which is untreated. Population pressure driven overexploitation of the surface and underground water resources by the poor has resulted into contamination and exhaustion of the water resources. Urban population is also using rivers to dispose of untreated sewage and industrial effluent. The result is that health of those dependents on untreated water resources is increasing at risk. The deterioration of natural resources and unsafe living conditions affects the environment and health of the poor people (Statistical Abstract of India, 1999).
The increasing river water pollution is the biggest threat to public health. The diseases commonly caused due to polluted water are cholera, diarrhea, hepatitis, typhoid amoebic and bacillary, dysentery, guineaworm, whereas scabies, leprosy, trachoma and conjucvitis are some of the diseases associated with water scarcity. All these could be attributed to the rapidly increasing population and lack of water resources. Inadequate access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities leads to higher infant mortality and intestinal diseases. More than one million children died due to diarrhea and other gastrointestinal disorders in 1990s. In addition, around 90 lakh cases of acute diarrhea diseases have been reported in India, Uttar Pradesh reporting the highest number of cases (Central Bureau of Health Investigation, 1996). It is estimated that 73 million workdays are lost every year due to water related diseases. The cost of treating them and the loss in production amount to Rs. 600 crores a year (Citizen's Report, 1982).
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Households Having Safe Drinking Water Facilities
Access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation is both a right and a basic need. Access to safe drinking water in many households is non-existent or inadequate and remains an urgent need. The percentage distribution of households having safe drinking water facilities is presented in Table 13. In India, in 1981, 38 percent of households were access to safe drinking water facilities increased to 62 percent of households in 1991. About 27 percent and 75 percent of rural and urban households were access to safe drinking water facilities in 1981 increased to 55 percent and 81 percent of rural and urban households in 1991 respectively. The situation in rural areas is much worst. The households in eleven states and five union territories were access to safe drinking water more than the national average, and the households in 13 states and two union territories were access to safe drinking water below the national average during 1991. More than 50 percent of households in 13 states and 5 union territories were access to safe drinking water in rural India as compared to 21 states and 6 union territories in urban India. In India, almost all surface water resources are contaminated and unfit for human consumption. The impact of drinking water pollution is more severe on the poor. The problems have become more acute in the slum areas where such basic necessities of life are either non-existent, or are inadequate and very low in standard. The diseases commonly caused due to contaminated water are diarrhea, trachoma, intestine worms, and hepatitis. Inadequate access to safe drinking water leads to intestinal mortality and intestinal diseases.
Summary, Conclusions and Policy implications
The outcomes of high population growth rates are increasing population density, increasing number of people below poverty line and pressure on natural resources. The poverty and rapid population growth contributes to environmental degradation through over exploitation of natural resources. Rapid population growth continues to be a matter of concern for the country as it has manifold effects, most important being land degradation and soil erosion, deforestation and declining per capita land, forest and water resources. The study reveals that rapid population growth has led to the over exploitation of natural resources. The deforestation has led to the shrinking of forest cover, which eventually affects human health. Population pressure on arable land contributes to the land degradation, thus affecting the productive resource base of the economy. From the various effects of human beings on environmental degradation, discussed in this paper, it appears that if human beings want to exist on earth, there is now high time to give top priority to protect natural resources and environment. The creation of employment opportunities is essential in agricultural areas with high poverty, unemployment and landlessness. Poverty also affects the demographic characteristics of the population and hinders the transition to slower population growth. Unless significant measures are taken to incorporate environmental concerns into agricultural development, urban planning, technological innovations, industrial growth, and resource management, the situation is likely to worsen in the future. There is a need to control population growth below replacement level in the country. Special efforts should be made for informing and educating the people and local leaders about the adverse effects of large population through specially designed Information, Education and Communication (IEC) activities. In order to increase green cover and to preserve the existing forests, afforestation and social forestry programmes should be implemented at the local level. There is a need for
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POPULATION AND ENVIRONMENT IN INDIA Abstract