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Business Environment and Law-Business And Its Environment

Natural Resources-Natural Resources And Economic Development

   Posted On :  04.05.2018 05:12 am

Natural resources include land, water resources, fisheries, mineral resources, forests, marine resources, climate, rainfall and topography. But nature possesses more in its bosom and in order to discover what it hides; man is required to develop techniques of knowing the undiscovered resources. Some times the discovery of the use of a resource can immediately increase its value.

Natural Resources And Economic Development

Natural Resources

Natural resources include land, water resources, fisheries, mineral resources, forests, marine resources, climate, rainfall and topography. But nature possesses more in its bosom and in order to discover what it hides; man is required to develop techniques of knowing the undiscovered resources. Some times the discovery of the use of a resource can immediately increase its value.

When we talk about the natural resources of a country, we have obviously in mind the extent of the known or discovered natural resources with their present uses. With the growth of the knowledge about the unknown resources and their use, the natural endowment of a country will be materially altered.

Another consideration regarding the nature of natural resources is that some resources; e.G., Land, water, fisheries and forests are renewable and there are others like minerals and mineral oils which are exhaustible and can be used only once. Consequently, careful use of the exhaustible resources and maintenance of the quality of renewable resources like land are a sine qua non in the process of development.

Principles Of Resource Development

The principal objective of resource development is to maximize gross domestic output (GDP) and for this purpose there should be optimum utilization of resources not only in the short period but, in a sustained manner, over the long period. Various guiding principles for resource development are:

  •   Economic use of resources to achieve minimum waste
  •   Sustained use of economic resources through conservation of renewable resources and economic use of exhaustible resources
  •   Multi-purpose use of resources: if a certain resource has a number of uses, it is necessary to have all the uses
  •   Integrated planning in the use of natural resources
  •   Location of industries with a view to reducing transport costs to the minimum
  •   Abundant supply of energy resources, specially electric power so as to utilize other resources in the best possible manner

Land Resources

The total geographical area of india is about 329 million hectares of which 42 million hectares or 14% of the total reporting area in india is classified as:
  •  Barren land, such as mountains, deserts, etc. Which cannot be brought under cultivation and

  •  Area under non-agricultural uses, that is, lands occupied by buildings, roads and railways, rivers and canals, and other lands put to use other than agricultural.

  •  The rest of the land is put under three major uses, viz., Forests, pastures and agriculture.

Forest Resources

Forests are important natural resources of india. They help control floods and thus they protect the soil against erosion. They supply timber, fuel wood, fodder and a wide range of non-wood products. They are the natural habitat for bio-diversity and repository of genetic wealth. Forests, thus, play an important role in environmental and economic sustainability. Under land utilization pattern, the government of india estimated the total area under forests as 68 million hectares or 22 % of the total geographical area. In our country, forests have generally been undervalued in economic and social terms.

The contribution of the forest sector to GDP was put as 1% in 1996 – 97 (measured at 1980 – 81 prices). A recent estimate puts the gross value of goods and services provided by the forest sector at 2.4% GDP. There is concentration of forests in a few states in assam, madhya pradesh, orissa and a few union territories. Northern india is particularly deficient in forests. There is a need to increase forest areas in the entire country as also to develop them in deficient states.

Forest Policy, 1952

Appreciating the necessity of developing forests, the government of india declared its first forest policy in 1952. According to this policy, it was decided to raise steadily the area under forests to 100 million hectares or 33 % for the country as a whole. The target area was to provide green cover over two thirds of the land area in the hills and mountains. The main objectives of forest policy under the five-year plans were:

  •  To increase the productivity of forests

  •  To link up forest-development with various forest-based industries and

  •  To develop forests as a support to rural economy.

New Forest Policy, 1988

The 1952 forest policy had failed to stop the serious depletion of forest wealth over the years. Accordingly, it became imperative to evolve a new strategy of forest conservation. The government of india announced its new forest policy in december 1988. The important features of this policy are:

  •  Role of tribal in forests recognized

The new policy enunciates that all agencies responsible for forest management, including forest development corporations should associate tribal people closely in the protection, regeneration and development of forests.

  •  Depletion of forest area and the target for green cover

The new policy reiterates that green cover should be extended to over two-thirds of that land area in the hills and mountains and that the total forest area in the country should be raised to 100 million hectares or 33 % of the total geographical area in the country.

  • Discouragement to forest-based industries

The new forest policy states that no forest based enterprises except at the village or cottage level will be set up in the future, unless it is first cleared, after a careful study of the availability of raw materials.
  •  End the system of private forest contractors

The new forest policy advocates an end to the system of contractors working the forests. The contractors will be replaced by institutions such as tribal Co-operatives, government corporations, etc.

  • Forest land not to be diverted to non-forest uses

The forest department used to assign forestland to individuals or non-government agencies for the purpose of reforestation.

  • Participatory forest management system

This new strategy involves rural people, particularly women and tribal community who have intimated the knowledge of plant species, their growth characteristics, utility and medicinal value, etc. They also know the specific requirements of fuel, fodder, timber and other non-food products. The adoption of the new strategy has led to several positive outcomes, such as:

  •  Change in the attitude and relationships of local communities and forest officials towards each other and the forests

  •  Improvement in the condition of forests

  •  Reduction in encroachments

  •  Increase in the income of local people and

  •  Involvement of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in forest research, tree planting, promotion of productivity, etc.

Water Resources

India is one of the wettest countries of the world but it is not able to hold all the water it receives. Because of deforestation and denudation, a large portion of the monsoon water disappears into the sea as surface run-off. Community resources such as ponds, tanks and rivers are misused and continuously neglected.

Rivers are increasingly getting polluted as urban and industrial wastes are dumped into them. India’s water policy has concentrated on gigantic river systems and reservoirs and despite huge investments on them; their productivity continues to be low. They have not helped in controlling or moderating floods.

Nor are they cost effective, or ecologically desirable. Ground water table has gone down dramatically in more intensely cropped areas, clearly indicating the need to increase recharges or to regulate pumping. In some areas, there is serious pollution danger to ground water due to industrial wastes.

India continues to be highly flood-prone and drought–prone but neither the government nor the planning commission has shown sufficient imagination to appreciate the gravity of the situation and make necessary correction to india’s water policy.


India is the sixth largest producer of fish in the world and perhaps, second largest in inland fish production. Fisheries sector plays important role in the socio-economic development of india, generating employment for a large coastal population – about one million fishermen draw their livelihood from fisheries, but they generally live on the verge of extreme poverty. It is not only an important source of direct employment but generates employment in downstream industries. It is estimated that about six million people are employed in the fisheries sector.

Fisheries help in raising nutritional levels, augmenting food supply and earning foreign exchange. The contribution of the fisheries sector to gross domestic product (at current prices) has increased from rs. 1,230 Crores to rs. 32,060 Crores between 1980-1981 and 2001-2002. Fisheries contribute about 1.21 % Of india’s GDP. Broadly, fishery resources of india are either inland or marine. The principal rivers and their tributaries, canals, ponds, lakes, reservoirs comprise the inland fisheries. The five-year plans assign high priority to the development of fisheries because of the necessity to raise the nutritional levels of protein deficient indian diet and to earn much needed foreign exchange.

The fisheries programmes have emphasized family-based labour, intensive inland and brackish water fisheries and improving the harvesting from seas by stimulating the growth of country boats, mechanized boats and deep sea trawlers.

Mineral Resouces

The development and management resources play a major role in the industrial growth of a nation. Coal and iron, for instance, are the basic minerals needed for the growth of iron and steel industry, which in turn, is vitally necessary for the country’s development. Similarly, there are other minerals like mica and manganese, copper, lead and zinc, which are of economic importance.

Then we have mineral fuels like petroleum, coal, thorium and uranium, which are of national importance. Thorium and uranium, the atomic energy minerals, promise to be tremendous source of power. Besides these, we have a number of minor minerals with varying degrees of utility to the country.

The reserves of india in respect of minerals essential for basic industries viz., Coal and iron are ample. But there is a fairly long list of vital minerals like copper, tin, lead, zinc, nickel, cobalt and sulphur and most of all petroleum which india lacks.

The government of india amended the mines and minerals (regulated and development) act, 1957 in january 1994 and announced a new mineral policy:

  •  Throwing open the mining sector to the private sector including direct foreign investment,

  •  Empowering the states to grant prospecting licenses/mines leases without prior approval of the central government (except in a few cases)

  •  Removing the restrictions on equity holding by foreign nationals in a mining company

  •  The major objectives and the strategies of the new mineral policy are as follows:

  •  To explore for identification of mineral wealth on land and off-shore

  •  To develop mineral resources taking into account the national and strategic considerations

  •  To minimize adverse effects of mineral development on the forests, environment and ecology through appropriate protective measures
  •  To promote foreign trade in minerals

  •  To promote research and development in minerals

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