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Bibek Debroy: Health of environment directly linked to economic growth

New Delhi, Dec 23: Chairman of the PM’s Economic Council Bibek Debroy said on Thursday that as the per capita GDP rises, quality of the environment tends to improve.
“There is a co relation between the two. Empirical exercises establish that premium on the environment placed by a society increases when the per capita income of the country exceeds USD 10,000, even more so when it crosses USD 15,000” said Debroy while was speaking at the launch of the book ‘Ganga’ at the India International Center (IIC) here. The book is authored by civil servants Rajiv Ranjan Mishra and Puskal Upadhyay and is published by Rupa publications India.
Debroy underlined the cultural significance of the holy river. “Ganga in the northern parts of the county is the most important river as it sustains the lives of millions of people. In many acts of worship we invoke the Sapta Sindhu rivers and Ganga is the first river to be mentioned,” he said.
He pointed out how over the centuries the holy river got polluted. “In the book, there is a reference to Mark Twain’s visit to India and a particular quote is attributed to him when he was asked whether he was scared bathing in the Ganga, he reportedly said ‘I am not scared of bathing in the Ganga because it is so dirty that no bacteria will survive in it.’
Stressing that government intervention in terms of the ‘Namami Gange Programme’ has improved the condition of the river he cautioned people against being pessimistic. “It is possible to be dismayed when we look at the state of the rivers today, including the Ganga. However if we go back 50-60 years, how was the Thames like? Or the condition of Danube and Rhine rivers? Even when I was a student in Britain during the mid 1970s, Thames during those times use to stink. So there is no reason to be despondent,” he said.
He reminded the people that the task of cleaning up the Ganga or any other river is not merely the responsibility of the government but that of the entire society. “Remember the first attempt to clean up the Ganga was by the residents of Kashi in 1886, a totally citizen driven initiative. This is what the PM, in his independence day speech referred to Sabka Prayas,” Debroy adds.

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