Hot spot and priority
HOTSPOTS AND PRIORITIES
Given the magnitude of environmental problems outlined in the earlier chapters, any planned cost effective action to address these issues needs careful understanding of the severity of these problems as well as the related priorities. This chapter indicates and environmental hotspots and priority issues.
All pervasive problems . Availability of safe and adequate drinking water and lack of sewerage and sanitation facilities are an issues across the state. In all the districts, indoor air pollution due to use of biofuels is an issue. Similarly, only 8.8 percent of land area in the state is under forest and tree cover and about 50 districts have less than 5 percent of area under forests. Hence, all the districts in UP are environmental hotspots as far as drinking water, sewage and sanitation facilities, indoor air pollution and forests and biodiversity issues are concerned. For this reason, these problems are not considered whild arriving at hotspot districts.
ENVIRONMENTAL HOTSPOTS . A district is considered as an environmental hotspot, if any three of the seven environmental problems viz. Surface water pollution, groundwater pollution , hazardous waste, municipal solid waste and land degradation cross the following broad criteria :
- BOD load on surface water bodies is over 500 kg/day
- Levels of fluoride, nitrate or iron groundwater are beyond the WHO prescribed drinking water standard.
- Groundwater exploitation is more than 70 percent of annual recharge.
- Ambient air emissions are over 100 tons per year
- Hazardous waste generation is over 500 tons per year
- Degraded land area is over 9 percent
22 hotspot district. As per the analysis, 22 of the 70 district in UP emerged as environmental hotspots. Kanpur Nagar is the most critical district where 6 issues crossed the criteria. Five issues crossed the criteria is 8 districts, four issues in 8 districts, and three issues in 5 districts (Table 32). Ambient air pollution and Hazardous waste (19 districts each), MSW (18 districts), surface and groundwater pollution (14 districts each) are the main environmental concerns that make these districts environmental hotspots. Budaun, Bulandshahr, Ghaziabad, Mathura, Meerut, Moradabad, Saharanpur and Sonbhadra are the other critical districts where 5 environmental issues crossed the criteria levels outlined above. Around 64 million people (38.5% of state's population) are exposed to these environmental problems in the 22 hotspots districts.
APPROACH FOR PRIORITIZATION . Occurrences of several environmental problems in one district often exacerbate the over all environment and have compounding impact on the social and economic development. Since the resources available to remediate the environmental problems are limited, a prioritization of the problems, followed by a careful cost effectiveness analysis of the solutions is needed. Setting priorities is a process of ranking future actions so that issues of greatest impact attract the highest investment relative to the available resources. Priorities, therefore, determine the path by which improvements in environmental management are to be achieved. How far wan how fast the management interventions change the environment are determined by many dynamic factors, such as level of political commitment, resource availability, administrative capability and public participation through participatory processes. One particular methodology for prioritizing environmental issues was applied to UP and is presented below11. It needs to be pointed out that the results should be treated as indicative, requiring further verification by other methods/exercises.
The seven environmental problems that contribute to overall environmental degradation in the hotspot districts were considered for prioritization. In addition, the problem of indoor air pollution and lack of forest cover were also considered here for prioritization. The prioritization methodology, developed by Carter Brandon and Smita Misra allows a relatively quick and simple first order ranking of issues. It uses consultation and expert opinion to derive weightings which are then applied to get scores for the range of identified problems. Using stakeholder consultations and secondary sources of information to provide guidance on the importance of the different environmental issues in UP, a quick assessment of the magnitude of economic, social and ecological impacts of each problem has been carried out. A score of 1 to 3 has been given to low impact, 4 to 6 for medium impact and 7 to 9 for high impact, depending on the severity of impact. Equal weightage was given for economic, social and ecological impacts.
Conclusions : The environmental challenges before UP are significant and it is time for bold, concerted and coordinated action. However, it needs to be noted that all the interrelated. For this reason, these problems require coordinated and concurrent action, may be at different scales and intensity. As seen in the earlier chapter, environmental expenditures are growing. The conclusions drawn in this chapter suggest a broad frame work for prioritization of environmental issues for action. It is hoped that the prioritization framework presented here will help the state government in designing more cost effective interventions. Considerable environmental awareness already exists in the government and a number of recent initiatives look encouraging. By assessing the key environmental problems this Monitor intends to facilitate this process of change towards better environmental Management and sustainable development in UP.