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INDIA HAS BEEN ranked at a low 177 position in the Global Environmental Performance Index (EPI), that places countries on how well they perform on high-priority environmental issues. The 2018 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) finds that air quality is the leading environmental threat to public health. The tenth EPI report ranks 180 countries on 24 performance indicators across 10 issue categories covering environmental health and ecosystem vitality. Switzerland leads the world in sustainability, followed by France, Denmark, Malta, and Sweden.

Air quality remains the leading environmental threat to public health. In 2016 the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimated that diseases related to airborne pollutants contributed to two-thirds of all lifeyears lost to environmentally related deaths and disabilities. Air pollution issues are especially acute in rapidly urbanizing and industrializing nations such as India and China.

The world has made great strides in protecting marine and terrestrial habitats, exceeding the international goal for marine protection in 2014. Additional indicators measuring terrestrial protected areas suggest, however, that more work needs to be done to ensure the presence of high-quality habitat free from human pressures. Most countries improved GHG emissions intensity over the past ten years. Three-fifths of countries in the EPI have declining CO2 intensities, while 85–90% of countries have declining intensities for methane, nitrous oxide, and black carbon. These trends are promising yet must be accelerated to meet the ambitious targets of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

With 20 years of experience, the EPI reveals a tension between two fundamental dimensions of sustainable development: (1) environmental health, which rises with economic growth and prosperity, and (2) ecosystem vitality, which comes under strain from industrialization and urbanization. Good governance emerges as the critical factor required to balance these distinct dimensions of sustainability.

Centre for Science and Environment in its lates release ‘The State of India’s Environment’ (SoE) figures also explained about other several important environmental factors including Water, Air, Sanitation, Energy and Forest. India scored 5.75 out of 100 in air quality. India’s disappointing performance and the gravity of the situation is further highlighted when compared with countries such as Switzerland and Japan which have scored over 90.

According to the SoE report, Lucknow fared much worse in the winter months, where very poor air quality was recorded on over 70 per cent of the monitored days and severe levels of air pollution witnessed on around 24 per cent of the days. Thiruvananthapuram, Bengaluru and Chennai, on the other hand, experienced comparatively better air quality.

The SoE in Figures find a lack of data on air quality in several Indian cities. Even in places where pollution levels are being monitored, gaps in data pose a serious challenge to successful implementation of the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP).

The dependency on groundwater has increased between 2004 and 2013. As per SoE in Figures, 70,736 rural habitats with a combined population of 47.4 million live on contaminated groundwater. Traces of new contaminants are now being reported in the country, suggesting a steady decline in the quality of groundwater.

In sanitation, under the Swachchh Bharat scheme, 72.1 million individual household toilets have been constructed. In energy, the SoE’s report highlighted that after missing its targets for two consecutive years, the Centre, it appears, is fast losing interest in meeting its ambitious target of installing 175 gigawatt (GW) of renewable energy by 2022.

The poor performance will also hit the job-creation potential of the scheme which was estimated to be over 300,000. Only 9 per cent of the roof-top solar target has been met so far, the report mentioned.

In forest cover, India's total forest cover has registered a 0.2 per cent increase between 2015 and 2017. The SoE also released data on environmental crimes.

Considering the database derived by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the CSE said that the number of environment-related police cases seem to be gradually decreasing after NGT came. “However, the number of court cases has drastically gone up,” CSE mentioned.

Leaders in Air Quality Australia, Barbados, Jordan, Canada, Denmark

Laggards in Air Quality Nepal, Bangladesh, India, China, Pakistan

What Does High Ranking Demonstrate? Long standing commitments to:

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