Air, water quality has worsened in all six metros: TERI survey

Quality of air and water in Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kolkata is worsening by the year, the 2013 TERI environmental survey has indicated. Yet, people are divided on whether development and environment protection can go hand in hand.

The survey conducted by The Tata Energy Research Institute assessed people's perceptions, behaviour, awareness and opinions towards environment with the aim of helping formulate policies and implement measures to make metros more sustainable.

"Our towns and cities, particularly the largest ones, are often populated by people who have lost their linkages with nature and are often seen to be generally opposed to any legislation or action to protect the environment. It is a fact that often towns and cities possess disproportionately greater power in influencing public opinion, resource allocation decisions and policies. In order to generate knowledge on the perceptions that people carry in our largest cities, TERI carried out this very valuable survey of perceptions related to the environment," TERI chief R K Pachauri wrote in the report.

The survey found that air quality for respondents in the six cities has either worsened or remained unchanged; availability of ground water has declined except in Chennai, as has forest cover except in Mumbai. Surface water quality has worsened in five cities and remained unchanged in Mumbai.

All six cities have seen a decline in the number and species of birds and animals. In Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi and Hyderabad, respondents have seen waste management deteriorate but those in Kolkata and Mumbai have seen improvement. Quality and availability of drinking water have improved in all cities, except Hyderabad, where respondents said it has worsened.

So far as public awareness of policies on environment was concerned, the survey threw up mixed results. Respondents in Delhi significantly lacked awareness of such policies while those in Chennai were not adequately aware of policies on air pollution and climate change. Most respondents in the other cities were aware of policies on forest conservation and climate change but felt they were inadequate or not implemented well.

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