Dr. Amrita Sengupta*
Economic activity is one of the prime drivers of environmental change. All economic activities affect the environment in some way whether it is done intentionally or unintentionally. These could be positive or negative effects. Most of the time, they are negative. Most activities usually end up harming ecosystems or just polluting the environment. Economic activities can range from mining all the way to farming. The first effect on the environment is the over harvesting of species. This is mainly caused due to hunting, fishing and forestry. It is important to have a clear understanding of the relationships between the natural environment and economic activity. The aim of economic activity is to produce human welfare through the interaction of society with the resources it has available. Chief amongst the resources available to society are those which may be found in the natural environment. Most debates on development prospect of Northeast India focus on the relation between economic development on one side and unrest, conflict and insurgency on the other. Volumes have been written on whether peace must precede development or prosperity brought by development is the best antidote for conflict. As a predominant section of the population of the region is still directly dependent on agriculture, it is often stated that economic development of the region would critically depend on improved productivity of agriculture. Arguments for the prospects of industries in the region appear to be less forceful. Though it is conceded that the region is endowed with abundance of natural resources for industrial exploitation, opinions seem to be less enthusiastic about the possibilities of industries sprouting up to take advantage of these resources. The policy measures by the central and the state governments for promotion of industries in the region arrive mostly in the forms of offering of subsidies and concessions rather than as strategic interventions for addressing the fundamental constraint on industrial growth in the region. The present paper reviews the linkages between environment and economic development which many times are ignored especially so in this region because of the abundance of natural resources.
*Department of Management Studies, Sikkim Manipal Institute of Technology VALUATION OF THE ENVIRONMENT
The value of human welfare created through economic interactions involving environmental resources is typically analyzed by mainstream literature according to two classifications: The Total Environmental Value approach classifies the value of human welfare into Use and Non-Use values. The use value involves the creation of human welfare through the utilization, in a direct (extractive) and indirect (non-extractive) manner, of environmental resources. Non-use values emanate from the knowledge of the existence of environmental assets without entailing any use whatsoever. The Source, Sink, Support approach is another way of categorizing total environmental value. Source consists of the utilization of the environment to obtain resources in a manner that gives direct satisfaction or in order to enable productive activities. The Sink function entails the use of environmental resources to absorb and transform unwanted by-products of human economic activity. The Support value of the environment consists of all the remaining functions through which the environment enables and supports human life, including, for example, provision of the atmosphere. These two approaches are essentially different ways of analyzing the same phenomenon and correlations can be identified between them. It is also important to recognize that environmental values may conflict with each other. We have to obtain a clearer idea of the value of the environment for economic activity in the North East. Quantitative assessments based on the principal economic indicators,...