Environmental flashpoints | Cover Story | Times Crest
Popular on Times Crest
  • In This Section
  • Entire Website
  • Fun and games
    July 13, 2013
    Bombay Gymkhana first opened its doors strictly to moneyed Britishers.
  • Dying to get in
    July 13, 2013
    At its AGM held on June 29, 2008 it was resolved to put a 5-year freeze on membership applications at Bangalore's most coveted club, the…
  • Seeking good company
    July 13, 2013
    Madras Club is today home to modern aristocrats.
More in this Section
Profiles
Leaving tiger watching to raise rice Ecologist Debal Deb, who did his post-doctoral research from IISc in…
The crorepati writer He's the man who gives Big B his lines. RD Tailang, the writer of KBC.
Chennai-Toronto express Review Raja is a Canadian enthusiast whose quirky video reviews of Tamil…
Don't parrot, perform Maestro Buddhadev Dasgupta will hold a masterclass on ragas.
A man's man Shivananda Khan spent his life speaking up for men who have sex with men.
Bhowmick and the first family of Indian football At first glance, it would be the craziest set-up in professional football.
From Times Blogs
The end of Detroit
Jobs in Detroit's car factories are moving to India.
Chidanand Rajghatta
How I love the word ‘dobaara’...
Can ‘bindaas’ or ‘jhakaas’ survive transliteration?
Shobhaa De
Anand marte nahin...
India's first superstar died almost a lonely life.
Robin Roy
Cover Story

Environmental flashpoints




In the years to come, the country will have to deal with three main issues that can be termed environmental flashpoints. In one form or another, they reflect the existing fights over resources. The answers to these concerns are largely political in nature, not technical or legal. Law and technology can only help the political establishment to achieve what it desires. People often suggest replacing political will with laws. But in the end, laws only codify political will.

REDEFINING THE TERM 'NATIONAL ASSET' Today, when the government puts the `national asset' tag on a natural resource, it usually ends up helping the wealthy to make more money. For example, iron ore and coal are national assets or properties for common good under the Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation Act. But those who lived on and owned the land where these minerals lie get virtually no share of the royalties and taxes the government collects from mining companies. On the other hand, miners and exporters make a huge profit and sectors that use these minerals, like the steel industry, get captive raw material at cheap government rates. The poor who have protected the resources over generations, find themselves evicted from the lands on which they have traditionally lived. Shutting down one refinery or two mines (eg Vedanta's bauxite mines in Niyamgiri, Orissa) is like put a lid on a simmering pot. Sooner or later, the government will have to bite the bullet and work out a plan for equitable sharing of mineral resources. The proposed mining bill (to replace the existing MMDR Act) may be a step in that direction.

URBAN EQUITY In cities too, public resources are not shared equitably. The poor pay through their nose for private water supply and illegal electricity because civic authorities have not drawn up proper distribution plans. The rich pay peanuts because the government subsidises them. The poor pay with their health for the lack of sanitation in slum colonies and the rich have taken over a disproportionate amount of road space with their cars because the government doesn't spend enough on public transport. Urban resources will have to be distributed more rationally otherwise metros and cities will collapse.

ENERGY An energy crunch exacerbated by the challenge of climate change will make it tougher for the country to produce electricity for the 400 million households that still use biomass sources like woodfires or cowpats. The challenge for future governments is to electrify these households at a cost the poor can afford and the atmosphere can bear. With the battle for energy increasingly becoming a political one defined by geostrategic realities, it will be tough task for the country to claim and retain rightful carbon space for economic growth.

Other Times Group news sites
The Times of India | The Economic Times
इकनॉमिक टाइम्स | ઈકોનોમિક ટાઈમ્સ
Mumbai Mirror | Times Now
Indiatimes | नवभारत टाइम्स
महाराष्ट्र टाइम्स
Living and entertainment
Timescity | iDiva | Bollywood | Zoom
| Technoholik | MensXP.com

Networking

itimes | Dating & Chat | Email
Hot on the Web
Hotklix
Services
Book print ads | Online shopping | Business solutions | Book domains | Web hosting
Business email | Free SMS | Free email | Website design | CRM | Tenders | Remit
Cheap air tickets | Matrimonial | Ringtones | Astrology | Jobs | Property | Buy car
Online Deals
About us | Advertise with us | Terms of Use and Grievance Redressal Policy | Privacy policy | Feedback
Copyright© 2010 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved. For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service