India Needs To Focus On Environment To Avoid Future Pandemics Like COVID-19: Environmentalist Sunita Narain

India Needs To Focus On Environment To Avoid Future Pandemics Like COVID-19: Environmentalist Sunita Narain

NDTV speaks with Environmentalist Sunita Narain about COVID-19, its learnings and how individuals and authorities need to save the environment in a bid to avoid future pandemics
Environment, Features
- in Environment, Features
India Needs To Focus On Environment To Avoid Future Pandemics Like COVID-19: Environmentalist Sunita NarainNDTV speaks with Environmentalist Sunita Narain about what individuals and authorities can do to overcome future pandemics

New Delhi: Since the onset of COVID-19 pandemic, experts and scientists have suggested a clear link between diseases like COVID-19 and environment. UN’s environment chief, Inger Andersen said, “Nature is sending us a message with the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing climate crisis.”

United Nations Environment Programme says that COVID-19 disease has underlined an important link between the health of people and the planet are one and the same. It states that human activity has altered virtually every corner of Earth, bringing humans into contact with new vectors. It further estimates that seventy-five percent of all emerging infectious diseases in humans cross from animals.

Also Read: Looking Back At The Last Few Outbreaks And The Role Of Environment Degradation

As per a study titled ‘Nature and COVID-19: The pandemic, the environment, and the way ahead’, the SARS-CoV-2 virus may have emerged from wildlife reservoirs linked to environmental disruption. The study decodes that the novel coronavirus was transmitted to humans via the wildlife trade, and its spread was facilitated by economic globalisation.

Whereas WHO says that climate change may indirectly affect the COVID-19 response, as it undermines environmental determinants of health, and places additional stress on health systems.

NDTV speaks with Environmentalist Sunita Narain, who heads the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) and is a member of the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) about the same and what individuals and authorities can do to overcome future pandemics.

Talking about the relationship of the environment with COVID-19 disease, she said,

It is very clear that COVID has a major relationship with nature. What is very clear is that we know that zoonotic diseases or viruses that are found in wild animals are mutating and making their way to human beings. We already have Arabian Flu issue, Swine Flu and now COVID-19, which has literally destroyed the world.

Stressing on the fact that COVID-19 is giving everyone a stark reminder that we need to start taking the environment seriously, Ms Narain added,

One of the most important lessons COVID-19 has given us is that this is the time to repair our relationship with nature. Ecosystem Restoration is not just about the environment or ecosystem itself, it is also about the human beings and what we can do to restore our relationship with nature.

Also Read: 75% Of Emerging Infectious Diseases Are Zoonotic, Caused By Biodiversity Loss, Warns UN Environment Programme Official

Highlighting the ways in which we can protect the environment, she said,

We need to make sure that we don’t destroy our habitats, where animals are found. That was the reason we up Ebola and many other such viruses moving to humans. We also need to change the way we do food production because in today’s time it is highly chemicalised and industrialised and is one of the major cause of the growth of viruses in the food which then makes it way to humans.

Further talking about the prevention part of COVID-19 disease and its link with the environment, Ms Narain added,

Today we know, to fight COVID-19, one of the basic ways is to wash hands –
but water must be available to people as well, to fight the battle. The irony of the situation is not only we are not harvesting enough rainwater but whatever we have – the rivers, lakes, all our water resources – we are destroying it with deliberate pollution.

Also Read: Study Links Disease Outbreaks To Deforestation, Forest Conversion And Commercial Palm Plantations

Explaining the part of individuals and authorities in making sure the environment remains the focus and future pandemics can be prevented, Sunita Narain said,

We as individuals need to start making good choices, we need to make choices for the food we eat. It needs to be locally grown, it should be free from toxins like chemicals or pesticides. Whereas, authorities, need to make sure individuals have more means and money to buy good food and our producer of the food is well cared for. Individuals should start doing rainwater harvesting, authorities should make it compulsory for institutions and buildings. We also need to look at ways we can stop polluting our environment. Authorities need to think beyond toilets and look at how we are treating our sewage waste. Both individuals and authorities have the power to walk the talk by doing things differently. After COVID-19, the next big threat we are looking at is climate change, so no questions asked, we all need to come forward and do something to save the environment and safeguard ourselves.

Also Read: Coronavirus Explained: All You Need To Know About The SARS Epidemic Of 2002

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene


Coronavirus has spread to 194 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 19,89,21,889 and 42,35,871 have died; 6,44,02,340 are active cases and 13,02,83,678 have recovered as on August 3, 2021 at 3:55 am.


3,17,26,507 30,549Cases
3,08,96,354 38,887Recovered
4,25,195 422Deaths
In India, there are 3,17,26,507 confirmed cases including 4,25,195 deaths. The number of active cases is 4,04,958 and 3,08,96,354 have recovered as on August 3, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths

63,15,063 4,869

78,700 3,650

61,03,325 8,429

1,33,038 90


34,25,473 13,984

1,65,834 2,057

32,42,684 15,923

16,955 118


29,08,284 1,285

24,045 123

28,47,627 1,383

36,612 25

Tamil Nadu

25,63,544 1,957

20,385 139

25,09,029 2,068

34,130 28

Andhra Pradesh

19,70,008 1,546

20,582 437

19,36,016 1,968

13,410 15

Uttar Pradesh

17,08,500 24

646 18

16,85,091 42


West Bengal

15,29,295 575

10,803 171

15,00,331 734

18,161 12


14,36,401 51

538 44

14,10,809 95



10,02,458 236

1,918 1

9,87,012 234

13,528 3


9,79,737 1,032

13,318 820

9,60,386 1,785

6,033 67


9,53,704 16

241 9

9,44,509 25



8,24,922 22

251 3

8,14,595 25


Madhya Pradesh

7,91,862 17

132 7

7,81,217 10



7,69,956 14

703 12

7,59,614 25

9,639 1


7,24,917 37

401 34

7,14,872 71



6,45,997 591

8,819 54

6,33,371 643

3,807 2


5,99,162 32

473 31

5,82,395 63



5,68,257 1,275

12,429 213

5,50,534 1,469

5,294 19


3,47,223 23

239 15

3,41,855 38



3,42,198 37

574 35

3,34,261 71

7,363 1

Jammu And Kashmir

3,21,725 118

1,254 43

3,16,090 73

4,381 2

Himachal Pradesh

2,06,369 208

1,304 75

2,01,543 132

3,522 1


1,71,295 90

1,027 16

1,67,118 72

3,150 2


1,21,059 54

944 38

1,18,320 92



99,872 541

9,814 591

88,480 1,120

1,578 12


79,026 304

3,104 12

75,167 292



65,939 350

5,843 200

58,987 537

1,109 13


61,960 6

33 3

61,116 3


Arunachal Pradesh

48,565 305

3,508 167

44,823 469

234 3


40,111 748

12,316 127

27,642 618

153 3


28,004 59

1,300 44

26,130 99

574 4


26,880 126

3,323 131

23,211 256

346 1


20,345 5

57 0

20,081 5


Dadra And Nagar Haveli


15 9

10,631 9



10,207 12

79 4

10,078 8


Andaman And Nicobar Islands


6 1

7,404 1


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