Despite profoundly negative health consequences of indoor air pollution, about half of the households in the world cook using solid biomass fuels. The situation is much worse in India where 83 percent of rural households and nearly 20 percent of urban households still use firewood or animal dung as the primary source of energy for cooking. Burning these unprocessed biomass fuels in traditional open fire burners, or “chulhas,” results in an estimated half a million premature deaths and nearly half a billion illnesses each year.
One of the flagship programs of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) has been hailed by leading health economists as one of the “the most ambitious rural health initiative ever.” The stated goals of the NRHM were to “provide effective healthcare to rural population, especially women and children, with special focus on eighteen states – Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Orissa, the eight north-east states, and the three hilly states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand – which
2011 was a landmark year for environmental litigation in India, a country with a rich history of environmental movements, grass-roots activism and a responsive higher judiciary. Although litigation on environmental issues has flourished for more than three decades, 2011 is distinctive for the establishment of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). It is not just the fact that it was set up, as earlier on, there was a similar tribunal, albeit a less powerful one.
In 2008, for the first time ever, the urban population of the world outnumbered that of the rural. This visible trend has escalated over the last couple of decades; projections suggest that by the end of the twenty-first century, 80 percent of the world’s population will live in cities (which occupy 0.05 percent of the Earth’s surface).
“Technology magnifies human intent and capacity.” – Dr. Kentaro Toyama
Knowledge of the spatial nature of one’s surroundings is essential for resource use, environmental management, allocation of land rights and diplomatic relations with other communities. Obtaining and recording geographic information is an essential component of community functioning. Processing this information and making robust decisions is critical to the continued existence of a community, whether it is a small nomadic tribe or a nation the size of India.
It was the best of times; it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom; it was the age of foolishness. While the current dynamics of coal may not match the intrigue and tumult of A Tale of Two Cities, the initial sentiments certainly reflect how things are shaping up in the sector. Recently, newspapers were all abuzz with Coal India’s emergence as the country’s “most valued company” in terms of market capitalization.
India has one-sixth of the world’s population but accounts for about 5 percent of the world’s energy consumption. India’s energy sector is plagued with energy and peak power shortages. At the present time, a large percentage of the population – official estimates indicate about 50 percent – do not have access to electricity. The development goal of providing access to convenient energy sources – electricity, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for cooking – would need a significant increase in the energy services supplied.
Growing water scarcity is being recognized as an important problem facing India. Per capita availability of water in India has declined from over 3,000 cubic meters (CuM) per year from 1951 to 1,820 CuM in 2001. In nine out of twenty river basins, per capita availability of water is below 1,700 CuM per year, indicating that India is experiencing severe water stress. In particular, the status of groundwater resources of the country is a matter of serious concern.
At the recently concluded UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP-16) at Cancun, banners of civil society groups hopefully and expectantly urged “Cancun Can.” And it did; at the end of two weeks of exhausting discussions and negotiations, the world has taken a small but sure step towards a meaningful set of global agreements on climate change.
As the next round of international negotiations over climate change commences in Cancun, Mexico, the Indian government finds itself on center stage. In the lead up, the Indian environment minister has stated that India would proffer a framework for monitoring emissions-reduction efforts, known as the International Consultation Analysis (ICA), and a mechanism for technology transfer.