UPSC Editorial Analysis

Need for the New Govt. to focus on Environmental Challenges

GS Paper 2 - Environmental Pollution, Climate Change and its Impacts


The new government formed at the Centre and Lok Sabha must now prioritize prevailing environmental issues and challenges in the country. Historically, Indian governments have favored development over environmental protection, often to the detriment of green interests.

Although the recent governments have focused on industries like mining and power, the focus on environmental concerns have taken a back seat.. India is now facing significant environmental challenges that require immediate attention and the integration of sustainable practices into its economic growth strategy to prevent further degradation.

Lack of Political Will on Environmental Governance

India’s environmental policy has been marked by a series of shortcomings that have contributed to a growing ecological crisis.

  • Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation – The country’s efforts to combat climate change are falling short, particularly in the areas of carbon emission reduction and the development of strategies to adapt to the inevitable changes that are occurring. There is a significant gap in addressing the remediation aspects of climate change, such as ensuring food security for the population and preparing for natural disasters, which are becoming more frequent and severe due to global warming. 
  • Diminishing Forest Cover – The environmental concerns are further exacerbated by the degradation of forest cover across the country. Not only has there been a quantitative loss of forests, but the quality of the remaining forests has also declined. This is partly due to recent legislative changes that have weakened protections for these critical ecosystems, leading to increased environmental damage. 
  • Urban Environment – Urban environments in India are facing their own set of challenges. Cities are plagued by severe air pollution and a scarcity of clean water, both of which have dire consequences for public health. The infrastructure for sewage treatment is woefully inadequate, resulting in the pollution of rivers and other bodies of water, which are vital sources of water for millions of people. 
  • Climate Change Impacts in the Himalayas – In the Himalayan region, the effects of environmental degradation are particularly acute. The rapid melting of glaciers and altered weather patterns threaten the region’s water supply and, by extension, the food security of the populations that depend on it. The government’s inaction in the face of local environmental protests and concerns has highlighted a disconnect between national policy and the needs of grassroots communities. 
  • Lacunae in the EIA Process – The process of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) in India has also come under scrutiny. These assessments, which are supposed to prevent environmentally harmful projects from moving forward, have been reduced to mere formalities. The dilution of EIA regulations and the lack of meaningful engagement with stakeholders have compromised the country’s environmental protection efforts.

Measures to Repair Environmental Damages

  • Improved EIA Procedures – To avoid projects from causing environmental harm, strengthen EIA mechanisms, make them mandatory, and ensure that they are thorough and transparent. 
  • Restoration Projects –  Launch large-scale conservation and restoration efforts for glaciers, forests, and rivers in the Himalayas.
  • Community Involvement – Actively involve local communities and stakeholders in decision-making processes to ensure that their concerns and knowledge are considered when developing policies. 
  • Strict Enforcement of Environmental Law – Improve enforcement of existing environmental standards and enhance fines for infractions in order to discourage harmful behavior.
  • Sustainable Development Policies – Create and implement policies that strike a balance between development and environmental conservation, promoting long-term ecological health and resilience. 
  • Revised Laws – Reconsider and change laws, such as the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023, to give stronger protections for natural ecosystems.
  • Resilience Building – Invest in infrastructure and programs that promote resilience to climate change impacts, such as better water management systems and disaster preparedness strategies.

Steps taken by Government in this Regard

The Indian Government has implemented several steps and schemes to combat the adverse impacts of climate change:

  • National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) – The scheme which was launched in 2008 outlines eight National Missions that focus on promoting understanding of climate change, adaptation, mitigation, energy efficiency, and natural resource conservation
  • National Missions – National Solar Mission, National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency, National Mission on Sustainable Habitat, National Water Mission, National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem, National Mission for a Green India, National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture, and National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change
  • National Adaptation Fund on Climate Change (NAFCC) – It supports projects aimed at implementing climate change adaptation 
  • Climate Change Action Programme (CCAP) – It is designed to build capacity at the state level to address climate change and support the implementation of the State Action Plan on Climate Change.
  • Panchamrit Action Plan – The country aims  to achieve various short-term and long-term targets, such as reaching a non-fossil fuel energy capacity of 500 GW by 2030, fulfilling at least half of its energy requirements through renewable energy by 2030, reducing CO2 emissions by 1 billion tons by 2030, reducing carbon intensity below 45 percent by 2030, and paving the way for achieving a Net-Zero emission target by 2070.


It was sad to see major political parties overlooking environmental issues and challenges in their election manifestos. It is still not late and we still have enough to reverse the damages caused by climate change and environmental pollution. The new Indian government needs to critically assess the nation’s ecological health to genuinely fulfill its role as the guardian of its citizens. By tackling these pressing environmental challenges, we can safeguard the lives and well-being of countless individuals.

SOURCE: The Hindu

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