New Delhi: The country’s 9% growth story on Thursday came in for questioning from environment minister Jairam Ramesh who contended that if the impact on ecology had been taken into consideration, the growth would have been only around 6%.
He said from 2015 onwards the impact of ecology would be part of calculations to judge the economic growth.
“If you are reporting a 9% GDP growth...the real GDP growth in terms of accounting for ecological degradation, loss of natural resources, loss of bio-diversity would probably be somewhere closer to five and half to 6%,” Ramesh said.
He was addressing the Stakeholders Consultations on the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity in India’ here.
Referring to a World Bank report which underlined the need for “environmental sustainability” as the next great challenge that India faces along its path to development, the minister said one should take “cognizance” of this.
People should be “more sensitive” to ecological loss on account of the economic growth, he said.
“By 2015... I have an agreement with the Planning Commission.... India will report not just GDP as a conventional measure,” the minister said, adding the GDP would incorporate the loss of natural wealth and loss of the country’s biodiversity because of developmental pressure.
Ramesh said India should learn from Australia, Norway and Mexico where “integrated natural resource” is accounting into their economic accounts.
“We need to train new generation and scholars in this area. We need to train economists in this area,” he said.
Ramesh said the Ministry would also soon launch Green India Mission, which would mark a “profound paradigm shift in the way we approach the forests and forest management.”
“Who is going to do Green India mission. That is the real paradigm shift. It is the people who are going to be responsible for Green India Mission,” he said.
It will be implemented through local bodies, local institutions, local women’s self help group, local communities with technical and managerial assistance of the forest department, Ramesh added.
He questioned the contention that India has 33% of forest cover and said 40% of the country’s forest area is open de-graded.
The Minister emphasised the need of upgrading the quality of the forests as increasing the quantity of forest is difficult because of developmental and demographic pressure.