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Focus on air, water and waste management: editorials


With callous planning that creates a false binary and prioritizes development over the environment, weak enforcement of green laws, inefficient and corrupt regulators, and irresponsible civic behavior, India’s list of environmental challenges is long. The most important thing, of course, is the climate crisis, which affects all sectors and has an impact on daily life. Combating the climate crisis has to be the general framework. All laws and regulations must be based on that priority and objective. But World Environment Day also offers an opportunity to observe three, other, more immediate crises: air pollution; Water crisis; and waste management.

While the blockade to stop the spread of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) gave us clean air for two months, this was only a short-term gain. With the opening of industries and the return of vehicles to the road, everything will continue as usual. When winter comes, the challenge will intensify. The water crisis is marked by falling groundwater levels, contaminated bodies of water, or drying of Himalayan springs. Last year, India pledged to phase out the use of single-use plastic by 2022. This will not be easy, and the growing demand for disposable personal protective equipment will add to the challenge. With the country facing an economic recession due to Covid-19, there will be a temptation to relax environmental standards for industries. But this will be a big mistake. Building greener again will prepare the country for the future.

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