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    Economic Survey dwells on SDG achievements

    EnvironmentAirEconomic Survey dwells on SDG achievements
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    Economic Survey dwells on SDG achievements

    The Economic Survey highlights the importance of balancing rapid economic growth with conservation, ecological security and environmental sustainability.

    A day before presenting the budget before the Lok Sabha, India’s finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman today tabled the annual economic survey in Parliament. According to the document, India’s economic growth estimation has been revised from 9.2 per cent to a growth of 8 to 8.5 per cent for the 2022-23 financial year.

    The National Statistical Office (NSO) had earlier projected a 9.2 per cent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) expansion in the current year.

    On the COVID-19 pandemic, the survey notes that the impact of the second wave during its first quarter was less than the impact of the full lockdown phase.

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    Of particular interest is the economic survey’s emphasis on India’s progress in road to fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The finance minister mentioned the improvement of India’s score from 60 in 2019-20 to 66 in 2020-21 on the NITI Aayog SDG India index and dashboard. The score was 57 in 2018-19.

    This achievement and reiterates India’s commitment towards achieving social, economic and environmental goals under SDGs, she said.

    According to the survey, the number of front runner states (scoring between 65 and 99) has increased to 22 states and union territories in 2020-21 from 10 in 2019-20. Left-ruled Kerala remains the top state. Chandigarh tops the list of union territories on the list.

    64 districts were front runners and 39 districts were performers in North East India, the Economic Survey report said.

    The Economic Survey highlights the importance of balancing rapid economic growth with conservation, ecological security and environmental sustainability.

    Land and forests

    The Economic Survey notes that India has increased its forest area significantly over the past decade and now ranks third globally in average annual net gain in forest area between 2010 to 2020. At the same time, India’s forest cover has increased by more than three per cent during 2011 to 2021, mainly attributed to increase in very dense forest, growing by 20 per cent during the period.

    Plastic waste management and single use plastics

    The survey reiterates the announcement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that India would phase-out single use plastic by 2022. The plastic waste management amendment rules notified in 2021 aims at this phasing-out of single use plastic. The draft regulation on the extended producer responsibility for plastic packaging has also been notified to strengthen the circular economy of plastic packaging waste, promote development of new alternatives to plastics and sustainable plastic packaging.

    Water

    The ground water resource management and the findings indicate that states and union territories need to manage their ground water resources (including recharge) carefully and to stem the over-exploitation of water resources. The survey mentions the finding that over-exploitation of ground water resources is concentrated in north-west and parts of southern India.

    The survey also observes that reservoir live storage is at its peak during monsoon months and lowest in summer months and therefore requires careful planning and coordination of storage, release and utilization of reservoirs.

    Highlighting the number of sewage infrastructure projects created under Namami Gange Mission since its inception, the survey brings to light the improvement in compliance status of grossly polluting industries (GPIs) located in the Ganga main stem and its tributaries from 39 per cent in 2017 to 81 per cent in 2020. There has also been a reduction in effluent discharge from 349.13 million of liters per day (MLD) in 2017 to 280.20 MLD in 2020.

    Air

    The national clean air programme (NCAP) was launched by the Indian government with a target to achieve 20-30 per cent reduction in particulate matter concentrations by 2024 across the country. The survey mentions that the programme is being implemented across 132 cities. It states that a number of other steps are being taken to control and minimize air pollution from various sources in the country, covering vehicular emissions, industrial emission and air pollution due to dust and burning of waste and monitoring of ambient air quality.

    India and climate change

    India had announced its first nationally determined contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement in 2015 and in 2021 announced ambitious targets to be achieved by 2030 to enable further reduction in emissions. The need to start the LIFE or lifestyle for environment movement urging mindful and deliberate utilisation has also been underlined by the survey document.

    The survey mentions that India has been exercising significant climate leadership at the international stage under the international solar alliance (ISA), the coalition for disaster resilient infrastructure (CDRI) and the leadership group for industry transition (LeadIT Group). The Ministry of Finance, RBI and SEBI have also taken several initiatives in the area of sustainable finance, the survey says.

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