Environment and Development are considered as two sides of the same coin. The environmental degradation, in fact, started with the propagation of human race, e.g., considering the mythological suggestion that the process of Adam and Eve who ate an apple and threw away the peels, which led to the beginning of the environmental degradation.
This process of environmental degradation was accelerated with the development of socioeconomic activities, e.g., agriculture, industrialization, drugs and pharmaceuticals, transport, civil construction including roads and buildings, etc., with growing population, the requirements of food grains and other consumer items increased greatly, leading to further environmental degradation.
As long as the assimilation capacity of receiving water system, land, air, etc., was more than the pollution load, the importance of environmental degradation was not really appreciated.
Image Source : ec.europa.eu
But today there are places where rivers are polluted to the extent that they have practically no assimilation capacity due to domestic waste and trade effluents, e.g., river Ganga at Kanpur, river Gomti at Lucknow, etc.
In India, beginning 1951-52 when the first Five Year Plan was initiated, production of total food grains was about 52 million tonnes. This was raised to 66.85 million tonnes in 1955- 56 when the first Five Year Plan terminated and during the successive plans, the production of total food grains was increased to 138.41 million tonnes in 1987-88.
The production of rice was increased from 21.3 million tonnes in 1951-52 to 56.43 million tonnes in 1987-88; wheat production was increased from 6.18 million tonnes in 1951 -52 to 45.1 million tonnes in 1987- 88.
This exponential increase was possible due to the increasing input of fertilisers- nitrogenous, phosphatic, and potashic, and also with proper irrigation, contributed by major irrigation through canal system and minor irrigation through tube wells. The use of increasing amount of fertiliser to increase the productivity of land, contributed to water pollution through soil pollution as well as air pollution.
The production of pesticide to meet the requirement of agriculture, in order to remove the effect of pest on agriculture, also led to water pollution as well as air pollution.
The development of large scale canal system led to deforestation; water logging, around canal system, led to barren lands. Thus, it is clear that on the one side agriculture was intensified with the input of fertilisers and irrigation, and on the other side the environment was degraded.
However, during this period the population increased from 235.9 million in 1891 to 361 million in 1951 and further to about 800 million in 1988. As the per capita net availability of total cereals remained at about 400 grams/ day and pulses at about 40 grams/day.