Teri Survey Says 93 Percent of Jabalpur Respondents Feel River Narmada Has An Impact on Their Health

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JABALPUR: The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) released the findings of the TERI Environmental Survey 2015 today. The survey aims to gauge the perception, awareness, opinion and behavior of people towards environment in Indian cities.

This year’s survey covered seven river cities in the country, namely: Delhi on River Yamuna, Varanasi on River Ganga, Cuttack on River Mahanadi, Surat on River Tapti, Jabalpur on River Narmada, Vijayawada on River Krishna, Dibrugarh on River Brahmaputra.

The survey was divided into three sub-sections – overall environment, health and environment and environment in river cities.The total sample size of the Jabalpur Survey was 2028 and the respondents were distributed across different age groups, occupation, and educational background and income levels.

Launching the findings, Dr Leena Srivastava, Acting Director-General, TERI said “People’s perceptions may or may not reflect reality; but they do reflect their confidence levels in governments, their engagement with common cause issues and their daily fears”

Shri Prakash, Distinguished Fellow, TERI said “The report clearly brings out the deep concern of people for saving environment irrespective of age, income level and educational standard. Also, the successive annual environmental surveys indicate a growing majority of the people who believe that the development and environment protection should be given equal emphasis and not pitted against each other”

The launch of the survey was accompanied by a panel discussion on ‘Citizen’s Perception, Opinion, Behavior and Awareness about Rivers in Indian cities’. Panelists included  Bharati Chaturvedi, Director, CHINTAN; Dr. Sejal Worah, Programme Director, WWF-India; Vimlendu Jha, Executive Director, SWECHHA and Dr Shyamala Mani, Professor, NIUA.

Environment in River Cities:

The survey assessed the perception of the people about the overall quality of river water. 78 per cent felt that the condition of the river Narmada in their city was good, while only 3 per cent felt that it was poor. 51 per cent of the survey respondents put the onus of the current quality and hygiene of the river on individual citizens and 47 per cent identified local government and the Municipal Corporation as the one responsible. 3 per cent of the respondents also chose industries, factories, and NGOs to be responsible.

Majority of the respondents perceived all the indicators to have improved in the last five years namely; water color (by 82 per cent of the respondents), odor in surrounding areas of the river (by 81 percent of the respondents), presence of fish in water (by 71 percent of the respondents), greenery along the river banks (by 68 percent of the respondents), and presence of animals and birds around the river (by 46 per cent of the respondents). 16 per cent of the respondents felt the presence of birds and animals around the river to have worsened and only 3–7 per cent of the respondents felt worsening of other environmental indicators.

Overall Environment:

37 per cent of respondents believe the air quality to have worsened in the past five years, followed by 32 per cent who felt there was no change and 30 per cent felt that it had improved. 50 per cent of the respondents perceived no change in the quality and availability of both surface and ground water.

81 per cent of respondents who were illiterate, felt that drinking water quality had improved over the last five years, compared to 70 per cent of respondents who were educated up to graduation and above. Nearly 40 per cent of casual workers or daily wage workers and 38 per cent of regular salaried government employees indicated an improvement in the air quality of the city over the last five years, while only 21 per cent of the retired survey respondents felt this improvement.

Nearly 50 per cent of the respondents were not aware of any policies or legislation regarding water conservation and climate change, while 20 per cent sensed inadequacy in the existing policies.

However, waste management and forest conservation were two issues for which nearly half (58 per cent and 42 per cent, respectively) of the surveyed citizens of Jabalpur felt that policies existed and were well implemented.

85 per cent of the surveyed people of Jabalpur were in favor of the ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ and felt that it will prove to be successful in improving the quality of the river flowing through their city. Lack of proper waste management in Jabalpur is a major threat not only to the overall environment but specifically to the health and quality of water sources in the city; hence the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan can play a significant role if implemented well.

Health and Environment

99 per cent respondents agreed that the quality of the environment has an immediate impact on human health. 57 per cent identified poor waste management as the issue with greatest visible impact. Water and air quality were also identified by 24 per cent and 19 per cent of respondents, respectively, to be the problem with the most visible impact on human health.

Over 70 per cent of the survey respondents identified skin diseases to be linked to poor environmental quality, along with 64 per cent attributing respiratory illnesses (asthma and lung cancer) and 69 per cent attributing water-borne diseases (diarrhea, jaundice and cholera) to environmental issues.

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