Setting An Agenda For Sustainable Development

There is a general impression that India is consuming more than what its ecosystem can sustain, and hence there is a need for programmatic interdisciplinary planning and inter-agency efforts at all levels. A number of national strategies and policies, which inculcate the principle of sustainability, have already been put into place. These policies are:

  • The National Environmental Policy (NEP), 2006: It articulates that only such development is sustainable which respects ecological constraints and the imperatives of social justice.
  • The National Agricultural Policy (NAP): It focuses on sustainable development of agriculture, by promoting technically sound, economically viable, environmentally non-degrading and socially acceptable use of the country’s natural resources. The NAP also states that improving the quality of land and soil, its rational utilisation, conservation of water and sensitising the farming community to environmental concerns should receive high priority. 
  • The National Electricity Policy (NEP), Integrated Energy Policy (IEP) of 2010: They underscore the use of renewable sources of energy.
  • National Urban Sanitation Policy, 2008: It seeks to generate awareness, eliminate open defecation, promote integrated citywide sanitation, safe disposal and efficient operation of all sanitary installations

Some important perspectives for achieving sustainable development in our country are listed below:

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

India’s sustained efforts towards reducing the emission intensity of its GDP will ensure that country’s per capita emissions will continue to be lower than developed countries. It is estimated that India’s per capita emission in 2031 will still be lower than the global per capita emission in 2005 (in 2031, India’s per capita GHG emissions will be under 4 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide equivalent (CO2eq.) which is lower than the global per capita emission of 4.22 tonnes of CO2eq. in 2005). Even then India has taken upon itself the voluntary target of reducing the emission intensity of its GDP by 20–25 per cent, over the 2005 levels, by 2020.

Sustainable Agriculture Development

The major thrust of the agricultural development programmes is on improving the efficiency of use of scarce natural resources, namely, land, water and energy. This can be achieved through improved productivity, which in turn will improve the welfare of farmers and agricultural labour, and help eradicate rural poverty. Conservation of land resources can promote a sound land use, matching the land capabilities with development alternatives. Pricing water and electricity appropriately will help recharge the depleting aquifers. Shifting urea to a nutrient-based subsidy regime is also the need of the hour, which cannot be neglected any longer.

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