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Uttarakhand tops in environmental standards

 

The Hindu, New Delhi, 30th October, 2012

Uttarakhand has more than just natural beauty to boast of. It also tops the list of best-performing States and Union territories in terms of environmental well-being.

Uttarakhand is followed by Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Sikkim, and Andhra Pradesh on the Planning Commission’s Environmental Performance Index (EPI) list. Environmental well-being is one of the considerations for devolution of funds to the States under the Gadgil formula.

Uttarakhand has been given a cumulative score of 0.8123, followed by Himachal Pradesh (0.7316), Chandigarh (0.7270), Sikkim (0.7149), and Andhra Pradesh (0.7147).

Mizoram, Kerala, Goa, Sikkim, Tripura, Puducherry and Andaman and Nicobar, with an average score of 1, have been ranked as the best States in terms of air quality. Ironically, except for Uttarakhand, all the States meet the prescribed national ambient air quality standard in respect of the sulphur dioxide of 20 micrograms per cubic metre. The indicators considered for measuring the ambient air quality performance are sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and particulate matter.

In respect of nitrogen oxide, more than 10 States don’t meet the 30 microgram per cubic metre national standard. In respect of suspended particulates, except for Goa, Kerala, and Mizoram, no State meets the 60 microgram per cubic metre national standard.

On water quality standards, except for Himachal Pradesh, which has set up 100 per cent treatment capacity for sewage, the treatment capacity in the remaining States ranges from 0 (13 States) to less than 20 per cent (8 States) and more than 50 per cent in four States, indicating a pathetic performance in this respect.

Sewage disposal, water quality of rivers — dissolved oxygen, total coliform count and the percentage of water exploitation — are considered for the State-wise performance for water quality. As far as total fecal coliform count is concerned, it is as much as 92 per cent in most of the States, with none complying with the standards.

Delhi, Punjab, Rajasthan, Daman and Diu, and Puducherry extract more water than they recharge, but Himachal Pradesh, Goa, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry are the only States which show a semblance of adherence to river water quality. On forest conservation, Chandigarh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh are among the five best-performing States that have preserved forests as well as increased cover.