From: Reuters
Published April 11, 2007 12:00 AM

World Bank Warns of Environment Cost of India Growth

NEW DELHI -- India's robust economic growth will put unprecedented pressures on its land, water, air, soil and forestry resources, a World Bank report said on Tuesday.

India's economy has grown more than 8 percent annually in the past two years, with manufacturing and services leading growth.

The country, which has Asia's fourth largest economy, is tipped to be a major global player in the next two decades.

"Rapid economic growth and the resulting changes in consumption patterns are drastically changing the nature and scale of impact on the country's environment and natural resources," the report said.

Industries like electronics and information technology -- one of India's flagship growth sectors -- textiles, pharmaceuticals, and basic chemicals, belong to the "red category" of major polluting processes, the report said.

These sectors are significantly polluting water and air and causing more hazardous waste.

Increased investment in the construction, mining and iron and steel sectors is leading to a mushrooming of brick-making units, iron plants and steel mills, many of which use highly polluting processes, it said.

"The result is a visibly deteriorating environmental quality in many industrial townships," the report said. Citing the example of Singrauli, which until the 1960s was an isolated rural region in central India, the report said it was now dotted with massive open-cast coal mines, thermal power stations and several large industries.

This development had brought disruption to traditional ways of life, and displaced up to 300,000 people amid a lack of adequate infrastructure and public amenities, the study said.

"Air and water pollution are of great concern, especially the presence of mercury in the food chain and other chemicals and heavy metals in water resources," it added.

Source: Reuters

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