By Kota Sriraj
Natural resources have been powering India’s growth. They can script a riveting future progress as well only if they are used with responsibility. In the current scenario, India needs competent efficient resource utilisation strategy that can achieve maximum benefit with least possible resource input
The rapid pace of India’s economic development has become a cynosure of global attention, resulting in financial investment flowing into the economy from commercial entities across the world. As India becomes the preferred global commercial destination, the burgeoning
Indian market has attained an enviable position, especially in the Asian region.
This fast-tracking of economic development, though appreciable, has put enormous strain on India’s natural resources. Given this, efficient resource utilisation has been recognised as a key element of sustainable development, which is reflected in the sustainable development goals (SDG’s) too, which aim to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
Efficient resource use is now a priority for the Government of India as well, and is reflected in various policies and programme such as ‘Make in India’, ‘Zero Effect-Zero Defect’ scheme, ‘Smart Cities’, ‘Swachh Bharat’, and ‘Ganga Rejuvenation Mission’. However, the pace of progress in ensuring sanctity of natural resources, besides optimising their use is still far away in the Indian context. This needs to change.
In order to attain a competitive vantage position amongst global economies, India must evolve a broad strategy for enhancing resource-use efficiency in the economy and industry. The stratospheric speed of India’s growth is evident in the form of an expanding industrial and service related production, rise in average income, a thriving middle class, rapid urbanisation and a growing population.
These changes have been underpinned by increased scale and intensity of resource use leading to manifold rise in demand for natural resources, especially materials. This in-turn has led to resource depletion and supply constraints, besides price shocks and rapid degeneration of natural resource base.
As the runaway economy gallops ahead at full throttle, the resource reserves are struggling to keep up; this is leading to complex economic, social, political and environmental consequences. For instance, intensive resource extraction, utilisation and
disposal has worsened climate change, this in-turn is having an overbearing impact on the fringe population of the society that are poor and vulnerable.
These alarming conditions now urgently warrant judicious use of resources, through measures that hinge on conservation and efficiency, not only seek to strengthen the foundations of the economy and society but also build a robust environmental sustainability.
In order to log initial successes in this regard, it is crucial to understand that natural resources are not unlimited and that it took enormous time for these resources to get accumulated and unless they are utilised prudently, the same can dwindle away rapidly.
In an increasingly resource constrained world, the challenge for a developing country like India is to find a balance between the developmental needs and minimising the negative impacts associated with resource use.
While developed countries need to reduce their overall resource and carbon footprint gradually, a rapidly developing country like India will need to increase its overall resource consumption in the short-to-medium term in order to meet its developmental goals. Therefore, efficient use of resources is essential for India in order to achieve sustainable development and is unavoidable policy priority. In the current scenario, India needs competent efficient resource utilisation strategy that can achieve maximum benefit with least possible resource input.
Fostering resource efficiency aims at governing and intensifying resource utilisation in a purposeful and effective way. Such judicious resource use can bring about multiple benefits along the three dimensions of sustainable development — economic, social and environmental. India must also ensure that through sustainable development, there is an equitable access to natural resources for every strata of the society, irrespective of location in the socio-economic-environmental matrix. This will ensure a dignified sustenance through minimum level of income and quality of life in a healthy environment.
The strategy for efficient resource use must also ensure that the benefits, burdens and risks of resource use and conservation are equitably distributed in society. This will spread the risks. Additionally, resource efficient production and consumption practices must be designed that aim to take into account the needs of future generations by conserving access to resources.
The strategy for efficient resource utilisation must also factor in the damaging impact of fossil fuel extraction. According to Ministry of Coal estimates, the area under coal mining is expected to increase from the current 22,000 hectare to 73,000 hectare by 2025. This can spell doom for the environment unless an efficient strategy is in place to rescue the situation.
Natural resources have powered India’s growth till now, and can script a riveting future progress as well only If they are used with responsibility and accountability.
(The writer is an environmental journalist)
Source: Daily Pioneer