Water usage to rise 3 times by 2030, land need to soar.
While Indian industry is well on course to meet the emission-intensity reduction targets that the government has set for 2020, according to a study of the top six emitting industries by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), India’s real problems will be to provide the land and water that industry will need in the next two to three decades. As for carbon emissions, CSE says that while the 2020 target of reducing emission-intensity by 20-25 per cent can be met, the options beyond this are both very expensive and difficult since the technology to do so is not available today.
According to CSE, the emissions of these six industries – steel, aluminium, cement, fertilisers, paper and power – will rise from 898 million tonnes in 2008-09 to 3,965 million tonnes if there is no change at all. Since industry will make certain changes on its own, according to CSE, a Business as Usual (BAU) scenario of emission is 3, 262 million tonnes by 2030 and this can be reduced to 2,669 mn tonnes in a low carbon scenario – but this requires a lot of technological innovation and money. In the case of the power sector, for instance, CSE estimates that while adopting a Low Carbon path (LC) will save 3.4 billion tonnes of carbon emission cumulatively, this will cost around $200 bn in investments. According to CSE Director Sunita Narain, “Clearly, the assumption that India does not need the developed world to pay for this is not tenable”.
According to CSE calculations, on a BAU basis, while GDP will grow 5.4 times by 2030, greenhouse gas emissions will rise 3.6 times and by around 3 times on a LC basis.
What is a lot more worrying are the CSE projections in terms of the land and water resources required. This has been calculated on the basis of the Environmental Impact Assessment reports of various projects, which have been projected keeping in mind the likely growth of industry. According to this, while these six industries occupy around 0.7 million hectares of land right now, another 1 million hectares by 2030, for land for mining and so on – more than doubling of the land industry already has. If this isn’t bad enough, what will be problematic is where the land is located. Dantewada, which accounts for 69 per cent of Chhattisgarh’s iron ore production, for instance, has a forest cover of over 62 per cent and a tribal population of 79 per cent. Korba, the country’s highest coal producing area, has 51 per cent of the area under forests. That is, much of the land which will be required for mines – 20 per cent of the additional million acreas of land required will be for mines alone – is in densely forested areas.
Water will be another problem area, and consumption here will rise from 5.6 billion cubic meters per annum in 2008-09 to around 18 bn by 2030 – the water consumption by industry in 2008-09, CSE estimates, is equal to the drinking and cooking needs of the entire population of the country.