Lokniti-CSDS, CNN-IBN and Outlook survey on State of Environment in Indian Cities was conducted in six selected Indian cities- Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad. The survey was conducted to find out level of people’s awareness, concern, their perception and practice, attitudes, willingness to change and their hope about environment in Indian cities. In order to reflect this, a comprehensive questionnaire relevant to these issues was made for all the cities including specific issues for different cities. In the process of preparing questionnaire, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) also assisted as knowledge partner for the survey.
The fieldwork of the survey was conducted from 9 May to 14 May 2008 in these cities. Prior to the field works of the survey, a one-day training workshop for investigators to be involved in the survey was also held on 7 May and 8 May 2008 in different cities. Altogether 36 field investigators were involved in the survey.
The sample for the survey was selected using purposive sampling technique. A total of 1800 respondents purposively selected on the basis of socio economic status of the colonies were interviewed in 36 locations. In each city, 300 interviews in 6 locations- 2 colonies from each lower, middle and higher income groups were conducted. Out of the 6 locations in every city, 2 were from lower class colonies, 2 from middle class colonies and 2 from richer class colonies. Respondents from different age groups like school children, young, and middle aged were respondents from different age groups like school children, young, and middle aged were interviewed in equal proportions. Beside, the interviews were also conducted on the basis of respondents proportionately divided between both genders in these locations.
The fieldwork was coordinated by Narashima Rao (Hyderabad), B.S. Padmavathi (Bangalore), Nitin Birmal (Mumbai), G. Koteswara Prasad (Chennai), Suprio Basu & Jyoti Prasad Chatterjee (Kolkata) and CSDS central team (Delhi). The team that designed, coordinated and analyzed the survey at CSDS comprised of Yogendra Yadav, Sanjay Kumar, Praveen Rai, Kshetri Rajiv Singh, Dhananjai Joshi, Himanshu Bhattacharya, K.A.Q.A Hilal and Kanchan Malhotra.
ANALYTICAL POINTS OF FINDINGS OF THE SURVEY
Most respondents are aware of more day-to-day issues such as law banning smoking in public places.
A large section of the respondents are aware of global warming, rainwater harvesting and solar energy, however a relatively smaller section is aware of environmental issues such as bio-diversity, Eco-tourism, and acid rain.
Looking at a general awareness, metropolitan Indian seems to be fairly well informed on environmental issues.
Among different cities in India, Kolkata tops in level of awareness. Majority of respondents from Delhi and Hyderabad are also highly aware of environmental issues. Chennai scores least on awareness.
Overall metropolitan India ranks inflation as the most important problem. But interestingly environmental pollution is second, followed by more popular issues such as corruption and unemployment. Poor transport facilities comes at the bottom.
Looking at environment problems in particular, air pollution tops the rank followed by lack of green cover while garbage disposal ranks at the bottom.
Air pollution turns out to be an issue that tops the agenda of respondents from all classes, though when comparing the 6 metros, Hyderabad is the city where air pollution seems to be the biggest environmental issue.
Most people think that plantation of trees is the most important initiative to be taken up by the government. Cutting across metros public opinion calls for policies to reduce air pollution and plant more trees.
C: COMMON PRACTICE
In most cases drinking water is mainly supplied by the government and is available inside the house.
A garbage collector generally collects garbage on a daily basis and most of it is disposed at colony dustbin/municipal truck.
Attending conferences and seminars is the most common way to participate in activities related to environmental issues.
Compared to college students, school students are more actively involved in environment related activities.
Planting trees is the most common practice that cuts across classes.
Installing a solar heater, rainwater harvesting and energy saving devices, or for that matter not used plastic bags and changed to CFL bulbs is predominantly an upper class concern.
Most people think that the best way of managing garbage is to reduce the use of plastics.
There seems to be a subtle class-wise divide among those who feel that giving recourses to private enterprises might be a better way to manage garbage and those who continue to count on the government.
People in Chennai and Delhi prefer privatization of garbage management while other cities maintain that it should be with government.
The survey reveals a clear consensus among respondents that pollution of air, water and noise in cities has increased in the last 5 years.
Though most respondents opine that industries contribute maximum to air pollution, many also feel that private vehicles and deforestation are major contributors to the increasing pollution. This opinion cuts across all the 6 metros that were polled.
Among different items used at home, people rank food packed in plastic as most hazardous to environment while batteries are suppose to be the least hazardous.
Most respondents think that trees are more important than flyovers. This is an opinion across all the 6 metros.
A large section of population thinks that discharge of industrial waste is main reason for pollution in rivers followed by discharge household sewage.
Most people blame all of us together for environment pollution, while some blame government and corporations.
Overall respondents prefer good public transport and metro networks for commuting. This is an opinion that cuts across metros, with Hyderabad standing out as an outlier with a substantial proportion of the respondents being enthusiastic about a fuel-efficient car.
Lower class and middle class respondents preferred public transport, while the upper classes were most keen a fuel-efficient car.
The survey indicates that people are generally of the opinion that Indian are not sensitive towards environmental issues. This opinion was strongest in Chennai and weakest in Bangalore.
The survey reveals a clear support for a ban on polythene and pushing environmental studies as a compulsory subject in schools.
Considerably strong support is voiced for a pollution tax on companies and a ban on diesel engine cars. Public opinion calls for development with a special concern for the environment.
In the absence of a vibrant Green politics in the electoral arena, public opinion seems to be divided among those who will consider voting for a politician who promises a cleaner environment and those who will not buy that as an issue that would influence their voting preference. Majority of respondents from Delhi and Bangalore seem to be positive about such a politician.
E: WILLINGNESS TO CHANGE
Overall majority of respondents are not ready to pay extra tax for environment protection, but respondents from Kolkata are willing to shell out some extra money for protecting the environment.
When it comes to paying extra tax on cars for more busses, Mumbaikars are the exception as majority of them feel that this is something doable. The rest of the metros are clearly not open to such an idea.
If public transport networks were good, most middle class respondents were open to use it instead of their own cars. However, this is not the case with the upper class.
F: IS THERE A HOPE?
The survey revealed a rather pessimistic picture about the future.
The respondents share a clear consensus that the environmental pollution will increase in the next five years.
Overall environmental conditions are expected to go worse. Respondents from Kolkata are most pessimistic, while Delhiites seem to be relatively optimistic.