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Environmental Issues, Ecological Preservation, Conservation of Natural Resources in India
There has been an increasing awareness in recent years that protection of the environment is necessary for
sustaining the economic and social progress of a country. This awareness was reflected at the Earth Summit in
Rio de J aneiro in J une 1992, where more than a 100 heads of government adopted a global action plan called
Agenda 21 aimed at integrating environmental imperatives with developmental aspirations and reiterated
through the U.N. General Assembly Special Session on Environment held in 1997.
The Indian Government's Policy towards Environment is guided by the principles of Agenda 21. The
Government of India has issued Policy Statements on:
Abatement of Pollution
National Conservation Strategy
Environment and Development
The main environment problems in India relate to air and water pollution, degradation of common property
resources, threat to biological diversity, solid waste disposal and sanitation. Increasing deforestation,
industrialization, urbanization, transportation and input-intensive agriculture are some of the other major causes
of environmental problems faced by the country.
Complete information on the concept and principles of Environmental Conservation

The rapid decline in the quantity and quality of natural resources has led to a concern for their management and
Natural resources are raw materials obtained or derived from nature. They are classified into renewable and non-
renewable resources. Renewable resources are replaced from time to time by natural processes, like
multiplication, recycling, etc. They are, in this sense, inexhaustible. Forests, pastures, wildlife and aquatic life
come in this category.
However, it is necessary to properly plan and manage their use. Non-renewable resources such as minerals,
metals, soil, coal, oil deposits, etc., are available in limited amounts and in no manner can be rebuilt or
If man expects to have a future on the earth, he must use the resources in the most prudent manner possible.
Conservation does not mean hoarding. It means the wise management of resources to provide a continuous
supply for a long time into the future. This implies continuous renewal of a resources and recovering, recycling
or reusing the products.
Conservation of a natural area means its maintenance in a natural state for the purpose of enjoyment or study in
order to understand and appreciate the complexities of ecological laws.
1) Concept of Conservation
Conservation is a broad concept with involves not only the scientific but ethical, moral, economic and political
aspects as well. Conservation has been variously defined. Conservation for the petroleum engineer is largely
minimizing of waste from incomplete extraction and for a forester it may be sustained yield of products. In all
cases, conservation deals with judicious development and manner of use of natural resources of all kinds.
A generalized definition of conservation is the maximization overtime of the net social benefits in goods and
services from resources. Although it is technologically based, conservation cannot escape socially determined
Conservation may also be defined as the achievement of the highest sustainable quality of living for mankind by
the rational utilization of the environment, protection of nature to enrich the life of man and the control or
elimination of environmental pollution in its many manifestations.
Conversation advocates practices that will perpetuate the resources of the earth on which man depends or in
whose continued existence he takes an interest. Conversation derives its tenets from a knowledge of ecology, the
science concerned with interrelationship between living things and their environment.
But the question arises, why there is a need for conversation? The reasons are:
a) World population is increasing at an alarming rate,
b) World resources are being used up at an increasing rate due to increase in population,
c) Pollutions is increasing with the passage of time, and
d) Damage caused by human activities is sometimes irreversible.
Conservation involves perpetuation of the natural environment of man including the infinite resources of air,
water, soil and life forms. Conversation involves the collective responsibility of governments, private
organizations, industries and individuals and the setting aside of funds, finances for ecological research and
execution of conservation projects.
2) Aims and Principles of Conservation
The aims of conservation are two-fold:
i) To ensure the preservation of a quality environment that considers aesthetics and recreational as well as
product needs.
ii) To ensure a continuous yield of useful plants, animals and materials by establishing a balanced cycle of
harvest and renewal.
Principles of Conservation
Conservation is achieved through measures adopted in favour of a natural resource in order to increase its
longevity and improve usage patterns. Some such measures are as follows:
a) Rational use of the resources:
Rational use of the resourcesis one of the concepts is conservation of natural resources in an essentially
undisturbed condition because they are of scientific interest, have aesthetic appeal or have recreational value.
Preservation also serves an ecological purpose by maintaining the function of the total environment, for
example, protection of forests assures a sustained yield of water into urban reservoirs, and protection of
estuaries perpetuates ocean fishery.
But rational use is not just preservation. It also implies the direct use of resources for their commodity or
recreational value. Thus, harvesting of forest crops, livestock grazing of grassland, catching fish and hunting
wild animals can be considered a legitimate part of the rational use of natural resources, if they are carried out in
such a way that the resource is perpetuated and not endangered.
b) Sustained yield:
Concept of sustained yield is involved in these activities. This means cropping the annual surplus of individuals
so as not to endanger the breeding stock of game animals or fish. Similarly, tree cutting or grazing of grass
should remove only the annual increment and no more.
c) Restoration:
Restoration is another important aspect of conservation. It is a widely familiar conservation measure, which is
essentially the correction of past careless activities that have impaired the productivity of the resource base.
Deforests areas and mined and barren lands can be revegetated with some effort. Depleted animal and plant
populations can recover if they are accorded protection. This measure is familiar in modern soil and water
conservation practices applied to agricultural land.
Restoration is possible, however, only as long as species are protected and genetic diversity of life is
maintained. When species become extinct, the restoration of past conditions becomes impossible.
d) Protection:
Protectionof natural resources from commercial exploitation to prolong their use for recreation, watershed
protection, and scientific study. This is the concept underlying the establishment and protection of parks and
reserves of many kinds.
e) Reutilisation :
Reutilisation is the reuse of waste materials, as in the use of industrial water after it has been purified and
cooled. The same process becomes recycling if the water material requires minor treatment before it can be
used, as in the use of scrap iron in steel manufacture.
f) Substitution:
Substitution, an important conservation measure, has two aspects: (i) the use of a common resource instead of a
rare one when it is for the same purpose, (ii)the use of a renewable rather than a non-renewable resource when
conditions permit.
g) Allocation:
Allocationconcerns the strategy of use- the best use of a resource. For many resources and their products, the
market price decides as to the use a resource is put, but under certain instances, general welfare may dictate
otherwise. The allocation of resources may be controlled by government through the use of quotas, rationing
and outright permits.
h) Integration:
Integration in resource management is a conservation measure because it maximizes over a period of time, the
sum of goods and services that can be had from a resource, or a resource complex such as river valley. This is
preferable to maximize certain benefits from a single resource at the expense of other benefits or other
resources. Integration is a central objective of planning.
Environmental pollution results from the release of substances and energy from waste products of human
activities. There are many types of pollution. They are classified on the basis of medium through which
pollutants are transported and diffused. Pollution can be classified into;
water pollution,
air pollution,
land pollution and
noise pollution
Surface water available from rivers, canals, lakes, etc contains small quantities of suspended particles, organic
and inorganic substances. When concentration of these substances increases, the water becomes polluted, and
hence becomes unfit for use.
Water pollutants are created from natural sources as well as human sources;
Natural sources:
Natural sources include;
decay and decomposition of plants and animals, etc.,
Human sources:
Pollutants from human sources are the real causes of concern. Indiscriminate use of water by increasing
population and industrial expansion has led to degradation of the quality of water considerably. Human sources
industrial activity
agricultural activities
cultural activities.

Among these activities, industry is the most significant contributor. Industries produce several undesirable
products including industrial wastes, polluted waste water, poisonous gases, chemical residuals, numerous
heavy metals, dust, smoke, etc. Most of the industrial wastes are disposed off in running water or lakes.
Consequently, poisonous elements reach the reservoirs, rivers and other water bodies, which destroy the bio-
system of these waters. Major water polluting industries are leather, pulp and paper, textiles and chemicals.
Various types of chemicals used in modern agriculture such as inorganic fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides are
also pollution generating components. These chemicals are washed down to rivers, lakes and tanks. These
chemicals also infiltrate the soil to reach the ground water. Fertiliser induces an increase in the nitrate content of
surface waters. Cultural activities such as pilgrimage, religious fairs, tourism, etc. also cause water pollution.

In India, almost all surface water sources are contaminated and unfit for human consumption. Water pollution is
a source of various water borne diseases. The diseases commonly caused due to contaminated water are
diarrhoea, intestinal worms, hepatitis, etc. World Health Organization shows that about one-fourth of the
communicable diseases in India are water-borne.
Air pollution may be defined as an atmospheric condition in which certain substances are present in such
concentrations that they can produce undesirable effects on man and his environment. These substances include
gases (sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons etc.,) and particulate matter (smoke,
dust, aerosol, and fumes), radioactive materials and many others.
A particular substance is harmful and polluting only when its concentration is relatively high and is harmful to
flora and fauna and to property. With increasing use of varieties of fuels as source of energy, there is a marked
increase in emission of toxic gases into the atmosphere resulting in the pollution of air.
Typically air pollutants are divided into two broad categories; Primary pollutants and Secondary pollutants.
Primary pollutants are those that are emitted directly from the sources. These include; particulate matter,
inorganic gases, hydrocarbons and radioactive compounds
Secondary pollutants include those that are formed n the atmosphere by chemical interactions among primary
pollutants and atmospheric constituents. E.g. sulphur trioxide, nitrogen dioxde, peroxyacetylntrate, ozone,
aldehydes, ketones and various sulphate salts. Secondary pollutants are formed by chemical and photochecal
Sources: Main sources of air pollution include;
Combustion of fossil fuels,
mining and
Industries are the main sources of air pollution.

These processes release oxides of sulphur and nitrogen, hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, lead
and asbestos.
Air pollution causes various diseases related to respiratory, nervous and circulatory systems. Smoky fog over
cities called as urban smog is caused by atmospheric pollution. It proves very harmful to human health. Air
pollution can also cause acid rains. Rainwater analysis of urban environment has indicated that pH value of the
first rain after summer is always lower than the subsequent rains.

Noise pollution refers to the state of unbearable and uncomfortable to human beings which is caused by noise
from different sources. This matter has become a serious concern only in recent years due to a variety of
technological innovations.
The main sources of noise pollution are;
various factories,
mechanised construction and demolition works,
automobiles and aircrafts, etc.

There may be added periodical but polluting noise from sirens, loudspeakers used in various festivals,
programmes associated with community activities. The level of steady noise is measured by sound level
expressed in terms of decibels (dB).
Of all these sources, the biggest nuisance is the noise produced by traffic, because its intensity and
nature depend upon such factors as the type of aircraft, vehicle, train and the condition of road as well as that of
vehicle (in case of automobiles). In sea traffic, the noise pollution is confined to the harbour due to loading and
unloading activities being carried. Industries cause noise pollution but with varying intensity depending upon
the type of industry.
Noise pollution is location specific and its intensity declines with increase in distance from the source of
pollution, i.e. industrial areas, arteries of transportation, airport, etc. Noise pollution is hazardous in many
metropolitan and big cities in India.
Environmental pollution by solid wastes has now got significance because of enormous growth in the quantity
of wastes generated from various sources. Solid waste refers to a variety of old and used articles. For example
stained small pieces of metals, broken glasswares, plastic containers, polythene bags, ashes, floppies, CDs, etc.
dumped at different places.
These discarded materials are also termed as refuse, garbage and rubbish, etc. and are disposed of from two
sources :
(i) household or domestic establishments, and
(ii) industrial or commercial establishments.
The household wastes is disposed off either on public lands or on private contractors sites, whereas the solid
wastes of industrial units are collected and disposed off through public (municipal) facilities at low lying public
grounds (landfill areas). The huge turn-out of ashes and debris from industries, thermal power houses and
building constructions or demolitions have posed problems of serious consequences.
Solid wastes cause health hazard through creation of obnoxious smell, and harbouring of flies and rodents,
which act as carriers of diseases like typhoid, diphtheria, diarrhoea, malaria and cholera, etc. These wastes cause
frequent nuisance as and when these are carelessly handled, spread by wind and splittered through rain water.
Concentration of industrial units in and around urban centres gives rise to disposal of industrial wastes. The
dumping of industrial waste into rivers leads to water pollution. River pollution from city-based industries and
untreated sewage leads to serious health problems downstream.
Urban areas are generally marked by overcrowding, congestion, inadequate facilities to support the fast growing
population and consequent poor sanitary conditions and foul air. Urban waste disposal is a serious problem in
In metropolitan cities like Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, etc., about 90 per cent of the solid waste is
collected and disposed. But in most of other cities and towns in the country, about 30to 50 per cent of the waste
generated are left uncollected which accumulate on streets, in open spaces between houses and in wastelands
leading to serious health hazards. These wastes should be treated as resource and utilised for generating energy
and compost. Untreated wastes ferment slowly and release toxic biogas to the atmosphere, including methane.
Population flow from rural to urban areas is caused by many factors like high demand for labour in urban areas,
low job opportunities in rural areas and unbalanced pattern of development between urban and rural areas. In
India population in cities is rapidly increasing. Due to low opportunities in smaller and medium cities, the poor
people generally bypass these small cities and directly come to the mega cities for their livelihood.