The unsustainable life styles and consumption patterns of the industrialized countries have led to the worst environmental degradation. As far back as in 1992, Earth Summit at Rio de Janiero highlighted the facts adding that poverty is the main setback in controlling and reforming of the environmental pollution for the poor and developing countries.
It called for a global partnership for environmental protection. Agenda 21 adopted at Reo de janiero addressed the pressing problems of the day with over 2500 recommendations for action in social and economic areas, such as combating poverty, changing patterns of production and consumption, conserving and managing natural resources, protecting the atmosphere, oceans and bio-diversity, preventing deforestation and protecting sustainable agriculture.
The major problems of the environment are recognized as global climatic change, ozone depletion, water and air pollutions, deforestation and resources degradation. 23 billion tons of carbon dioxide is released in the air by burning fossil fuels causing Greenhouse effect. The Greenhouse gases are mainly contributed by the industrialized nations.
By the middle of 21st century, earth's temperature at present level of heat emission would go up by one to three degree Celsius and the sea level would rise between 30 to 100 centimeters.
India has witnessed alarming environmental degradation in the last two decades. It is the sixth largest and the second fastest producer of Greenhouse gases. The key environmental pollutions related to industries in India are water pollution, soil erosion, ground water contamination and deforestation. Indian rivers are also suffering from high level of pollution due to enormous municipal wastes, industrial effluents and agricultural runoffs.
According to expert findings, 70 percent of India's surface water is severely polluted. As per government statement in 1992, 3/4th of the total waste water generation is due to the municipal waste, which is one half of the total pollution load.
Consequent to it, fresh water resources are depleting very fast and water-born diseases are on the increase that account for 2/3rd of the total illnesses in India.
Air pollution in India is the highest by vehicular sources to the extent of 64 percent, by thermal power 16 percent, by industry 13 percent and by climatic sector 7 percent. The average level of suspended particular matter, in Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi is very high and these are included in the list of 10 metropolitans of the world in respect thereof. These cities have reached critical level while Kanpur, Nagpur and Ahmadabad are hitting the same. Chennai is found moderate.
In respect of land pollution, it is disposal of solid and toxic municipal and industrial wastes. The per capita solid waste generation average in India is to the order of 360 to 400 gms. Per day. This waste counts for affliction of respiratory diseases.
In case of pollution control or environment reform it is very important to note that a partnership of highly industrialized nations with the poverty stricken and developing countries is a must for sustainable development. It implies the help of the farmer to the latter which includes transfer latest non-pollution technology. This has been the main stress in the Rio Declaration.
In June 1997, Earth plus five summit was held in New York to review the programme adopted in 'Agenda 21'. The conference concluded that the targets were not achieved annual emission of carbon dioxide, blamed for global warning, continued to rise, fresh water scarcity remained, and depletion of forest cover was not being checked.
In another conference, held in a Japanese resort, Kyoto, in December 1997, to check global warming, participant agreed to meet binding target between 20C and 2012.
The steps to control pollution in India include environmental clearance for major industrial activities based to impact assessment before sit selection. Introduction of unleaded petrol, low-sulphur diesel and higher emission norms throughout the country in a phased manner is the second significant step. Beside this, efforts are to be intensified further to control pollution in 22 industries in various towns and cities that are critical polluted.
The industries are to comply with such emission and effluent standards as may be notified in a time-bound manner.