India can support economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic by generating green jobs under its vast public works programs.
Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that providing clean and reliable energy supplies to Indians is the topmost priority of the government. Dharmendra Pradhan added that India will emerge as a winner in developing green solutions and the world would admire for the decades ahead. However, the increased usage of green energy and cutting down the use of traditional sources of fuel may bring five major advantages to India’s lap. The major advantage is that India can support economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic by generating green jobs under its vast public works programs. In addition, migrant workers who have returned to their villages can be encouraged to set up forest-based enterprises, World Bank added.
5 lessons for India’s green recovery during the ongoing crisis
- Returning migrants can be encouraged to set up new forest-based enterprises — Given the rapidly growing demand for natural products, returning workers can be encouraged to set up MSMEs that add value to non-timber forest produce (NTFP) using their knowledge of new technologies and urban markets. The move may help in generating jobs and raising local incomes. India’s NTFP sector is valued at over $25 billion, but it rarely results in a steady income for the tribal populations that collect and sell these products, said the World Bank report.
- Thriving forests can benefit agriculture — Increased forest areas can help in controlling soil erosion; improving the quality of soil, water, and air; preventing landslides; reviving pastures; recharging aquifers; and providing food, fodder, and medicines. Restoring forests can also help regulate sediment and water flows in large river basins such as the Ganges and Brahmaputra, making agriculture, hydropower, water supply, and roads more resilient to the impacts of climate change, and reducing air pollution, said Aditi Jha, an environmental consultant with the World Bank.
- Promotion of nature-based tourism — Restoring India’s natural heritage and unique ecosystems can also boost opportunities for nature-based tourism. By creating safer habitats for India’s vast biodiversity, forests can help boost tourism, generating gainful employment for rural residents.
- Meeting international commitments towards climate change and land degradation — Restoring forests and terrestrial landscapes may help India meet its international commitments towards climate change and land degradation. Under IUCN’s Bonn challenge, India has the highest global commitment for arresting climate change, aiming to restore over 20 million hectares of degraded land by 2030. Achieving this could make India the global leader in green recovery.
- Building green infrastructure — India can use the Mahatma Gandhi National Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) and the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhyaan – which have a combined annual outlay of $20 billion – to build the country’s green infrastructure. These programs can help restore forests at scale; improve the quality of pastures, forests, and wetlands; control erosion; and forest fires.
Meanwhile, the report underlined that every dollar spent on restoring the landscape has the potential to generate at least $9 in economic benefits. In the US alone, ecological restoration is a $9.5 billion industry, employing 126,000 people and indirectly generating $15 billion and another 95,000 jobs.