The following points highlight the five main factors responsible for ecological imbalance in India. The factors are: 1. Degradation of Land and Soil Erosion 2. Deforestation 3. Faulty Utilisation of Water Resources 4. Environmental Problems from Faulty Mining Practices 5. Industrial and Atmospheric Pollution.
Ecological Imbalance: Factor # 1.
Degradation of Land and Soil Erosion:
The Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India has reported about the serious problem of land degradation and soil erosion as given in Table 5.6.
Table 5.6 reveals that about 174 million hectares (i.e., 53 per cent of the total land area) of land in India is facing the serious problem of land degradation out of which a 144 million hectares is subjected to soil erosion through water and wind and the rest 30 million hectares is subjected to other problems.
Moreover, heavy population pressure has led to conversion of forest and permanent pastures into crop lands leading to indiscriminate grazing.
Ecological Imbalance: Factor # 2.
Large scale deforestation has been continuing since independence due to over- exploitation and mismanagement of forest resources. During the first two decades of planning (i.e., from 1951 to 1972) India lost about 3.4 million hectares of forestland out of which about 70 per cent of that area was lost to river valley projects, roads and communications and industries.
Deforestation is still continuing at a rapid scale and the problem has reached to such a proportion that it has totally disturbed the ecological balance of the country.
The National Committee on Environmental Planning has remarked that total land surface having adequate tree cover is not more than 12 per cent of the total geographical area of the country, although the official statistics show it as 22 per cent of the total geographical area.
The degree of deforestation in Himalayan ranges from Kashmir to North-East India is very high. All these have led to an ecological collapse in the country.
Ecological Imbalance: Factor # 3.
Faulty Utilisation of Water Resources:
Being one of the wettest country of the world India is still suffering from flood and droughts due to faulty utilisation of water resources. Since independence, too much importance was laid on the development of big dams.
But these Gigantic dams have displaced crores of tribal people, drowned million hectares of rich forest areas, failed to prevent and control floods and often created destructive flash flood in the downstream valley.
As per one recent estimate, it is found that area affected by floods in India has increased from 20 million hectares in 1971 to 40 million hectares at present. Moreover, these huge dams and multi-purpose projects have created an environmental impact in the form of degradation of soil in the command areas due to continuous water logging and increasing soil salinity.
The major portion of increasing salinity affected areas lies in the Indo-Gangetic plains of U.P., Punjab and Haryana.
Ecological Imbalance: Factor # 4.
Environmental Problems from Faulty Mining Practices:
In India large scale extraction of minerals are creating serious environmental problems, ruining the country’s land, water, forest and air. Large scale mining has resulted in conversion of agricultural and forest land into stockyards townships, roads, railway lines etc. and removed vegetation and top soil.
The disposal of mining waste, mineral dust from mines are constantly polluting air and also reducing agricultural productivity. Underground mines are often creating subsidence of land due to it’s over exploitation. Mining activity is also polluting water resources as the rain waters, passing through mineral wastes, are flowing into rivers and streams.
Mining operation has also resulted large scale deforestation, soil erosion and is also responsible for various health hazards to human beings in the form of respiratory problem and other illness. Thus in the new Mineral Policy, 1993, attempts have been made to check this environmental pollution arising out of mining operations and to follow some reclamation measures.
Ecological Imbalance: Factor # 5.
Industrial and Atmospheric Pollution:
In India, unplanned and uncontrolled growth of industries and ill-maintained automobiles are creating huge atmospheric pollution regularly leading to huge environmental problems. The main atmospheric pollutants include carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, sulphur dioxide, hydrocarbon and metallic traces.
Besides some specific pollutants are also being mixed with atmosphere which include lead from automobile emission, urea dust from fertilizer factory, cement and lime dust from cement factories, increasing radiation of nuclear power stations etc.
Moreover, industrial wastes coming out of fertiliser factories, paper mills, leather factories are constantly being discharged in rivers, lakes and seas, creating huge health hazards for the population of the country.
Thus under this present situation, environmental problems of India are being added in increasing proportion. Thus it is high time that planners and policy makers of the country should take necessary steps to reduce the degree of environmental pollution in the country and should preserve proper environment at any cost.