Gross Environment Product

Uttarakhand became the first state in the country to start tabulating a ‘gross environment product’ (GEP) — a measure of the health of the state’s natural resources — to be released alongside GDP figures every year.
Chief minister Vijay Bahuguna directed his officials to begin work on formulation of the new measure which would give out yearly updates on the status of the state’s glaciers, forests, rivers, air quality, soil etc. These figures could become an important tool for conservation strategies, besides giving indications of the toll economic activity was taking on Uttarakhand’s environment.
The announcement comes in the wake of the unprecedented devastation caused by last month’s flash floods in Kedarnath and elsewhere, after which the state has faced criticism for placing development over environment. Bahuguna announced the new green measure after a meeting with environmental activist Anil Joshi, whose organization, HESCO, has been demanding it for some time.
Joshi called it a “historical decision” that other states should emulate. “It is the most important step that the government has taken. GEP will act as a balance between ecology and economy. It will truly represent the rural resource growth rate, which was otherwise neglected in GDP figures,” Joshi said. An Uttarakhand government release said a nodal authority would be formed under the state’s environment ministry to coordinate work on GEP tabulation.
“The CM has called for a meeting within a month with institutions such as the Forest Research Institute and Central Soil and Water Conservation Research and Training Institute for working out how the GEP figures would be arrived at and other details,” Joshi said.
All state departments and agencies would be asked to take up GEP-related work as a mission, the government release said. These numbers will be reflected yearly in the state’s charter of growth. Joshi said that with GEP figures in the public domain, the “government will not be able to ignore the state’s ecology in favour of economic growth”.

No comments: