Friday, December 19, 2008

TN ranked low on environmental sustainability index

19 Dec 2008, 0059 hrs IST, TNN

CHENNAI: In a wake-up call to the state government, a Chennai-based non-profit research institute has ranked Tamil Nadu very low at 22 out of 28
states in the country on an environmental sustainability index (ESI).

The index has been prepared by the Centre for Development Finance (CDF) of the Institute for Financial Management and Research (IFMR) based on the environmental performance of states in the country. The ESI shows that the state is at 22nd place in a list that ranks the ability of 28 states to protect their environment in the coming years.

"ESI is an attempt to create a baseline of state's relative position in a sustainable trajectory. It has a strong policy focus and is designed to advocate analytical and empirical foundation for environmental policy making," said Jessica Wallack, director, CDF.

Studying 44 variables clustered into 15 indicators under five policy components to arrive at the ESI, the study reveals that none of the state is on a sustainable trajectory. At the same time, none of the states have performed very poor in all dimensions. Most states have done well in some areas and need to improve a lot in many other issues, the report says.

Shockingly, Tamil Nadu has scored very poorly, compared to other states, in environment governance which includes energy management, people's and government initiatives and curbing down on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, says Rupanwita Dash, the researcher.

The indicators on air and water pollution, waste generation, land use, natural resource endowment, air and water quality, GHG emissions are all in the negative for the state. Even if environment (control) systems were present, the stress on environment was on the rise, Rupanwita points out.

The best performing state in the 2008 ranking is Manipur. followed by Sikkim and Tripura with the lowest ranking states are Punjab, Gujarat and Haryana based on study of parameters like population pressure, stress on environment, environment systems, health vulnerability and environment governance.

At the launch function, Sikkim environment and forest department representative Pradeep Kumar highlighted how the government's laws like those relating to the ban on plastics, use of chemicals in farming and environment cess, had helped in conservation and bring in more money for forestry.

"Political will is essential," he affirmed. Chattisgarh member secretary of environment P V Narasigham Rao said the state was setting an example by finely balancing between industrialisation and ecology by strict monitoring. Meghalaya forest commissioner C D Kynjing said the Centre should create a "green fund" for north-eastern states for increasing forest cover.

Award for green states was given to five select states, who had performed well on various aspects of environmental sustainability, viz., Himachal Pradesh (government's initiative), Manipur (people's initiative), Chattishgarh (least polluted water), Sikkim (conservation of natural resources) and Meghalaya (air quality).


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