45% of country`s land degraded: Environment report

Last Updated: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 - 00:22

New Delhi: At least 45 per cent of the
country`s land is degraded, air pollution is on the rise in
all cities while rare flora and fauna is diminishing at a
rapid rate, according to the State of Environment Report India
2009.

The third official report on the state of India`s
environment released by Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh
paints a grim picture of the status of environment in the
country, highlighting water, energy, food, climate change and
urbanisation.

"At least 45 percent of India’s land area is degraded
due to erosion, soil acidity, alkalinity and salinity,
waterlogging and wind erosion," said the report prepared by
Development Alternatives on behalf of the ministry.

On air pollution, the report points out that levels of
respirable suspended particulate matter has been on the
increase "in over 50 cities and with their population of 110
million the public health damage costs were estimated at Rs
15,000 crore in 2004."

Rooting for public transport system, the report blames
urban air pollution on vehicles and factories.

While India remains one of the world`s 17
"megadiverse" countries in terms of the number of species it
houses, 10 per cent of its wild flora and fauna are on the
threatened list, the report points.

’No evidence of glacier melting’

The Central government will
set up a glaciology institute in Dehradun to find out whether
Himalayan glaciers were receding due to climate change or it
is a natural phenomenon.

The Centre has decided to set up a Himalayan
Glaciology Institute in Dehradun as presently there is no
robust scientific conclusion that the glaciers were melting
due to climate change, Environment Minister Jairarm Ramesh
said today.

"We don`t have conclusive evidence that the glaciers
are melting due to climate change though it can be one of the
reasons, but receding can be a natural phenomenon also,"
Ramesh said.

Adequate scientific capacity will be brought in the
field to study and expand the area, the Union Minister said,
adding there is also a need to set up weather stations in
various Himalayan states such as Uttarakhand, Assam and
Arunanchal Pradesh.

Bureau Report



First Published: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 - 00:22

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