India has been witnessing a marked change in climate in last few decades. This change has been very pronounced in last 8/9 years. Deadly heat-waves, periodic cyclones, very short or excessive rainfalls, prolonged draught, frequent cloudbursts, lethal strikes by thunder, flash floods and melting glaciers have been the fallout of this climate change caused by unbridled greenhouse gas emission from burning of fossil fuel, uncontrolled discharge of various air pollutants by motor vehicle exhausts, emission and dumping of toxic material by the factories violating anti-pollution norms, reckless deforestation, thoughtless urbanization and triggering ecological disbalance in the name of promoting eco-tourism or mega-pilgrimage. Evidently, the environmental disasters are man-made and not attributable to the vagaries of nature.
A recent study shows that since 1992, more than 24,000 people have died in India due to heat waves. “Long-term projections indicate that Indian heat waves could cross the survivability limit for a healthy human resting in the shade by 2050,” mentioned a study. Severely impacted by heat waves, more than 90% of the country, according to the heat index, could fall into an extreme heat “danger” zone, the study found. It will make millions more Indians vulnerable! In 2022, India experienced a searing heat-wave when the temperature in parts of the country climbed to more than 490C (1200F).
In 2023, the mercury soared more than 450C in some areas. Such repeated blows of heat waves will gravely affect millions of lives and livelihoods. On 16 April 2023, at least 13 people who were attending a government programme at Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, died due to heat-stroke while around 100 people were to be hospitalized. Heat exposure in the country led to the loss of 167 billion potential labour hours, a 39% increase from 1990- 1999, said the Climate Transparency Report 2022. Between 2016-2021, extreme events such as cyclones, flash floods, floods, and landslides caused damage to crop in over 36 million hectares, a USD 3.75 billion loss for farmers in the country, the Report said. The phenomenally rising temperature resulted in the reduction of working hours, which entailed substantial income losses in services, manufacturing, agriculture, and construction sectors. The future is stated to be much more horrifying. “Estimates show a 15% decrease in outdoor working capacity … during daylight hours due to extreme heat by 2050,” the study observed. “Precipitation (water that is falling out of the sky, this could be rain, drizzle, snow, sleet, hail or something rarer) is projected to increase by 6% from the reference period of 1986-2006, at 1.50C of warming. Under a 30C warming scenario, precipitation will increase by three times the precipitation anticipated at 1.50C of warming,” it said. The rainfall pattern in India has also changed in the past 30 years, impacting many economic activities such as agriculture, forestry and fisheries.” Snowfall in India is expected to decrease by 13% when compared with the reference period’s snowfall levels. At 30C of warming, the decrease is expected to be 2.4 times the 1.50C scenario,” the Report said. The annual damage from river flooding in the country is likely to increase by around 49% at 1.50C of warming. The damage from cyclones is slated to increase by 5.7%. “The annual expected damage from tropical cyclones and river flooding at 30C is 4.6 to 5.1 times that from 1.50C,” the report mentioned.” The increased heat is expected to cost India 2.8% and 8.7% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and depressed living standards by 2050 and 2100, respectively,” it added. Labour productivity in India is projected to decline by 5% from the 1986-2006 reference period if global temperatures increase by 1.50C, it said. The decline in labour productivity will be 2.1 times more if the global temperatures increase by 2.5 and 2.7 times.
But the Indian rulers are unfazed. Driven by the lust for profit maximization, the monopoly houses and multinationals are violating environmental norms with elan. Their pliant bourgeois parties in power ensure that the class interest of their masters is served to the best possible extent even if that means pushing the oppressed toiling millions to the precipice of utter ruination. The present BJP-led Indian government is also not just reluctant to take stern measures to combat climate change, it is aggressively pursuing measures that cause climate change. Just the other day, we have seen how the various parts of Uttarakhand experienced landslide and flashfloods as because more than one hydel power projects and the Chardham Yatra, a Hindu religious voyage, were being organized disdaining the vulnerability of the soil structure. Earlier, repeated bouts of severe cyclones like Tsunami, Amphan, Jawad, Fani, etc., wreaked havoc in various regions of the country particularly the coastal zones. Deserts are receiving heavy rainfalls whereas normal rain-prone areas went dry. Of late, the BJP government has amended laws which allow the corporate sharks to clean the forests and use the lands for setting up mining and other industries by forcibly evicting the forest-dwelling poor tribal populace. The monopolists are also allowed to lift use huge amount of ground-water and surface-water to feed cold drink industries.
The government has also sold some rivers and basins to the corporates. All these will add fuel to the fire—climate will be further damaged, and the downtrodden will find mere survival under threat. While many countries have been closing down their nuclear power projects due to environment risks, waste hazards and danger of radioactive emissions, the Indian government is procuring the rejected nuclear technology in the name of setting up alternative power source while the hidden motive is to manufacture nuclear armaments. Even the bourgeois governments, both at the Centre and in the states, are overtly pretending to be too eager to stop the use of plastics which cause environmental hazards, they are in no mood to control the production of those harmful single-use plastic goods. They have actually been running with the hare and hunting with the hounds.
Can this be allowed to continue unabated? Surely not. Then it is our bounden duty to take up cudgels against the slew of environment pollution measures and steps fostering climate change and compel the government, under pressure of united resistance movement, to dissuade from the killing path.