Environmental protection: individual efforts must accompany collective endeavour

By Nishant Jee*

Am I doing my part in protecting the environment? Am I entirely aware of how to do the required? Are the government’s policies in favour of the protection of the environment or corporate-driven? Is media bringing the relevant environmental issues in front of me? These are just a few questions, and there are many more which come in our mind when we think of “who needs to take responsibility for protecting the environment.”

First of all, is there a serious need to focus on the conservation of the environment? According to reports, there is a severe need to reduce our carbon emissions by half in the next 10 years. As a country, we are still very dependent on conventional sources of energy (coal, oil, natural gas etc.). Primary energy sources fulfil around 80% of the energy requirement in the country. However, there is a popular misconception that a significant percentage of energy produced is consumed in the form of electricity. In reality, when we see the data, we find that just 16% of energy is consumed in electricity. The problem lies with the demand forecast for electricity in the country. The model of demand forecast works on assuming India to be a manufacturing economy. However, India is a service-based economy. The service sector brings around 57% of GDP revenue, and the manufacturing industry brings less than 20% of GDP revenue. This flawed model inflates energy demand.

At the peak, India’s power requirement is 1,85,000 MW. The installed capacity of the country is 3,60,000 MW. India has been a power surplus from last four years. Around 140 power plants are idle in the country as there is no demand for power. In fact, the growth of power demand has fallen in the previous 5 years. The powerplants on which the government spent billions of rupees are idle as there is no demand. Still, a lot of villages in the country do not have electricity. The reason behind this is improper transmission and distribution. In the county, electricity generation is mostly in the hands of big corporates including TATA and Adani. The issue worsens as the general public does not have a say on transmission and distribution of electricity to households.

India currently ranks 6th in terms of the capacity of solar power installation. The ranking can improve significantly if the government properly works on the installation model. The beauty of solar energy installation is that there is no need to invest in a large capital at a single time. The capacity of a single plant can be increased when the need arises.

The role of government increases at this point as they need to be receptive of the general public. This audience includes the people who are at the bottom of the pyramid in the society. However, it has been seen that the government has not been receptive in the past. The banning and disqualification of NGOs, suppression of protests, and the arrest of activists display the government’s oppressive policies. The government has open industries, and the policies have been mostly corporate-driven, which have significantly hampered the cause.

Oh, Wait! One question must be coming in our mind; how can we forget the generation of employment from the installation of power plants and other developments? What is the issue if people get jobs by disturbing the environment a bit? Listen, if we go deep down, people who lose their livelihood are ten times more than people who get the jobs. One more reality is the locals-only get few jobs, and most of the jobs go to people with high skills and are from outside of that place. In terms of development, we take away the livelihood of natives who were directly connected with the environment and will not get any benefit from the so-called development.

There is also a buzzword that the media houses are mostly tilted towards the government in power. People perceive the national media to be in a sorry state. However, the regional media is still trying its best to bring in the relevant issues to the audience. The media should not be entirely blamed as the audience is also not very interested in the topics and news related to the environment. For more coverage, the readers also need to be aware and eager to know more. It will encourage media to give equal focus on these topics as they give it to others.

After understanding others’ responsibilities, we need to understand that we play a significant role in the protection of the environment. We cannot play a blame game and complain of others not doing their part. The problem is that people do not understand our connectivity with the environment. With the rapid urbanization, we do not stress ourselves to know our connections with the environment. The youths play a significant role in getting in-hand experience of getting close to our environment than just attending lectures on these topics. Here, teachers play a significant role as they can influence many individuals who are at their best age of learning. The society needs to be sensitized of these issues.

In the end, all I can say that individual efforts display the efforts, collective ones bring the change. We need to stand together, and everyone needs to do their part to protect our environment for ourselves and future generations.

*2nd Year MBA Student at IIM Ahmedabad

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