Indians give environment edge over economy

One of the world`s fastest growing economies, India is also trying to become a green economy.

Updated: Jun 04, 2011, 09:27 AM IST

Washington: One of the world`s fastest growing economies, India is also trying to become a green economy, according to a new poll showing Indians narrowly prioritise environmental protection over economic growth.

A survey by Gallup, leading US public opinion agency, shows 45 percent Indians putting environmental protection ahead of economic growth, favoured by 35 percent.

India`s burgeoning population, annual economic growth in the 8 percent to 9 percent range, and rising energy demands continue to place intense pressure on the country`s fragile ecosystems, particularly its forests, the Gallup survey said.

However, India has been fighting land degradation and desertification and investing in green technology, including one of the world`s largest green energy projects that will generate thousands of megawatts of solar and wind power, it noted.

Such investments likely find support among many Indians, though the country`s poorest residents remain more focused on the economy, Gallup said.

Thirty-nine percent of Indians who say they are finding it very difficult to get by on their household incomes prioritise the economy, while 29 percent favour the environment and many (23 percent) don`t have an opinion.

The bulk of the population, those who are getting by on their present incomes or finding it difficult to get by, remain more focused on the environment than the economy.

Indians living comfortably-and less likely to worry about putting food on their tables-are equally divided.

Indians are more likely to say they are satisfied with efforts to preserve the environment (45 percent) than to say they are dissatisfied (38 percent).

The country`s poorest citizens stand out-those finding it very difficult to get by are the least likely to say they are satisfied with efforts, but they are also the least likely to have an opinion.

Like many Indians, many Americans also believe the environment should be given priority, but Americans have tended to favour the economy in the recent tougher economic times. Indians` inclination to prioritise the environment merits watching if leaders want the green economy to take root, the poll showed.

IANS