To avoid another ecological disaster like Joshimath, India will need to focus on sustainability even as it pursues development and economic growth, some of the leading names from India Inc said.
“The climate crisis is here and now and we can say that 75 per cent of India’s districts are hotspots for extreme climate events,” Dr Arunabha Ghosh, CEO of the think tank Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), told managing editor Business Today TV, Siddharth Zarabi during a panel discussion on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos. “The development pathway that we design has to be completely different from anyone else because the advanced economies of today have already built out that infrastructure and created a global problem in the first place.”
The country will, therefore, have to decide the pattern of economic growth it wants for its different parts said Dr Ghosh. The vulnerable regions such as the hill areas may call for a different kind of development compared to the plains, which may be more suitable for the building of harder infrastructure. Besides, mapping climates risks at the hyperlocal level would help in pricing them for purposes such as insurance.
Referring to his own experience of working in the area of water conservation, chairman & managing director of the engineering and construction major HCC, Ajit Gulabchand, pointed out that except for the Brahmaputra Basin, a lot of river basins in the country had started drying up due to reckless use of water.
“Each time we discuss water, we talk of drinking water but that’s not how water is used. Nearly 75 per cent of water is used for agriculture. Another 20 per cent is used by industries. Only about 5 per cent is used for sanitation and drinking,” said Gulabchand.
He called for urgent steps for recycling water to significantly bring down its wastage.
Commending the role being played by the central government on the policy front as well as its initiatives to not only make India into a green economy but to also turn it into an export hub for green technologies, the chairman & CEO of the country’s largest renewable energy company, ReNew Power, Sumant Sinha felt that more work was needed at the level of states.
“States must also join the party and put sustainability at their core,” emphasised Sinha. “At the same time, corporations need to take sustainability much more into their core operations and thought process. And that’s beginning to happen because we have now begun to sell a lot more of green electricity to corporates, he added.
The panel was also of the view that Indian companies, especially those in exports, had to factor sustainability into their business plan to keep pace with the changing global market standards.