Define the concept of carrying capacity of an ecosystem as relevant to an environment. Explain how understanding this concept is vital while planning for the sustainable development of a region.

Demand of the Question
Introduction: Define the term “carrying capacity”.
Body: Write How the understanding of this concept is vital while planning for sustainable development of a region.
Conclusion: Conclude by telling how this understanding can be developed.
The carrying capacity of a biological species in an environment is the maximum population size of the species that the environment can sustain indefinitely, given the food, habitat, water and other necessities available in the environment.
In other words, carrying capacity of an area refers to an extreme limit. This limit defines the population carrying capacity of the area. If this limit is crossed then nature will react by imposing pressure to resist the abrupt growth and development of the people resulting into equilibrium. These pressures can be in the form of floods, droughts, famines, landslides, etc.

Understanding this concept is vital for sustainable development of a region in following ways

  1. Population control: understanding would push for more efficient implementation of population control measures.
  2. Intensity and pattern of resource usage estimation for the development of infrastructure such as water supply system, sewage system, transportation system, waste disposal system, among others. Example: Young sees carrying capacity as an insightful tool for the selection of proper solid waste disposal method that is not only engineeringly and economically feasible and socially, politically and ecologically sound in terms of resource supply and waste assimilation.
  3. Creation of regulatory framework: Understanding will help in the enforcement of acts like environmental protection act, biodiversity conservation act as well as zoning and regulations, building permits, land-use ordinances, etc, which provide standards to
  4. control the haphazard development in the urban environment. Example: Gadgil Committee report specifies that the present system of governance of the environment should be changed as it is going beyond the carrying capacity of western ghats. It recommended constitution of a Western Ghats Ecology Authority (WGEA), as a statutory authority under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, with the powers under Section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
  5. Ensuring Sustainable tourism: Tourism carrying capacity is estimated to determine the maximum number of people that may visit a tourist destination at the same time, without causing destruction of the physical, economic, socio-cultural environment and an unacceptable decrease in the quality of visitors’ satisfaction. Example: Goa has roped in National institute of Oceanography to study carrying capacity of its popular beaches in a bid to control pollution and proliferation of beach shacks. In this context, carrying capacity of an ecosystem need to be understood in terms of three factors: the amount of resources available in the ecosystem; the size of the population or community; and. the amount of resources each individual within the community is consuming. It is an efficient tool to maintain a fine balance between Environment and Development – a longstanding debate of all time.
NAPCC, though conceived with noble objectives, has not served well in dealing with the impacts of climate change. Critically discuss.

Demand of the Question:
Introduction: Briefly introduce NAPCC and write its objectives
Body: Highlight the success achieved
Provide the limitations of NAPCC in dealing with impacts of climate change.
Conclusion: as per context
PM’s Council on Climate Change introduced National Action Plan on Climate change (2008) in the backdrop of 4th assessment report of IPCC (2007) and to safeguard economic growth against the threat of climate change.
OBJECTIVES OF THE PLAN: Emphasizing the overriding priority of maintaining high economic growth rates to raise living standards, the plan “identifies measures that promote development objectives while also yielding co-benefits for addressing climate change effectively.” The eight missions introduced in NAPCC are in line with the Paris Agreement, SDG and Sendai Framework for disaster risk reduction.


  1. Introduction of innovative market-based mechanisms and policies – PAT (Perform, Achieve and Trade) Scheme, Solar Rooftop Investment Program, PM Ujjwala Yojana and Street Lighting Program.
  2. Establishment of databases in public domain such as Water Resource Information System (WRIS).
  3. Development of institutions and partnerships at both national and international levels – E.g. India-led International Solar Alliance.
  4. It brings a balanced perspective on mitigation and adaptation through some new dimensions like creation of National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change
  5. Mission Specific Successes:
    a. National Solar Mission – Solar tariff achieved grid parity. Initiatives – Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects, Green Energy Corridor. Target of 20GW by 2022 met four years earlier in 2018 itself.
    b. National Mission on Sustainable Habitat – Adoption of Energy Conservation Building Code, Programs like AMRUT, Smart Cities etc. to promote sustainable urbanization
  6. As per The World Wide Fund for Nature-India (WWF) the National Action Plan is fairly comprehensive and has cross-sectoral links through the eight National Level Missions.
  7. The focal point is India’s impetus on following on a low carbon energy path without impending economic growth and quality of life of people.
  8. Even though the NAPCC has been in existence for a decade, most missions have lagged behind in achieving their targets.
  9. The focal point of NAPCC seems to be solar power mission only
  10. The plan report makes no commitment to cut the country’s carbon emission which should have been an integral part of it.
  11. Structural weaknesses – NAPCC is a collection of independent plans, lacking an integrated vision. Several ongoing schemes of the government such as AMRUT are aligned with the mission objectives, but no convergence is attempted.
  12. Some missions are too broad, have long gestation periods (e.g. Green India Mission) and lack quantifiable targets, hampering their progress
  13. Low R&D, lack of skilled manpower and expertise has slowed missions like NMSKCC, NMSA, NMSHE.
  14. Lack of efficient functional decentralization is compounded by poor capacity building at the state level
  15. Lack of market-based investments resulting in sole dependence on limited budgetary resources.
  16. Another challenge is the monitoring systems, which are either ineffective or absent. Progress reports for NSM, NMEEE, and NWM are currently available but mapping of progress for other missions has been difficult due to their cross-cutting nature.
  17. The committee on estimates chaired by Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi in its report on the performance of NAPCC in 2018 further pointed out that institutional, systemic and process barriers— including financial constraints, inter-ministerial coordination, lack of technical expertise and project clearance delays—stand as major challenges in the efficient implementation of the missions.
    Most missions have seen slow progress. However, there are plans for 3 new sector-specific missions – Waste-to-Energy, Health and Coastal Mission. The criticism provides an opportunity for NAPCC 2.0 and pooling indigenous and global capabilities to cope with climate change.


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