Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh on Thursday questioned the 9 per cent growth prediction, saying that if the impact on ecology is taken into consideration, the growth would have been only around 6 per cent.

He said from 2015 onwards, the impact of ecology would be part of the calculations to judge the economic growth and the real GDP growth in terms of accounting for ecological degradation, loss of natural resources and biodiversity would come down to 5 to 6 per cent.

Mr. Ramesh was addressing the ‘Stakeholders Consultations on the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity in India' here.

Advocating the need to take cognisance of the World Bank report, which underlined need for “environmental sustainability” as the next great challenge that India faced along its path to development, he said people should be “more sensitive” to ecological loss on account of the economic growth.

By 2015 the Planning Commission would report not just GDP as a conventional measure. It would also incorporate the loss of natural wealth and loss of the country's biodiversity because of developmental pressure. Mr. Ramesh cited the examples of Australia, Norway and Mexico where “integrated natural resource” is accounting into their economic accounts.

Paradigm shift

“We need to train new generation and scholars in this area. We need to train economists in this area,” he said. The Environment Ministry would soon launch a Green India Mission, which would mark a “profound paradigm shift in the way we approach the forests and forest management.”

It would be implemented through local bodies, institutions, women's self-help groups and communities with technical and managerial assistance from the Forest Department.

Tiger census

Later, talking on the sidelines of the function, Mr. Ramesh said the results of a scientific census of tigers would be made public by next month-end. It was being carried out through cameras installed at strategic points such as water bodies. A computer analysis was being done to ascertain their presence.

Though preliminary analysis of the census indicated that their numbers might have increased, there was concern over the rise in incidences of man-animal conflict. The 2007 census showed a sharp fall in the number of tigers in the country. According to it, India had only 1,411 big cats left in the forests.