President calls for balancing economic growth, environment

New Delhi, Jan 14 (IANS) Economic growth is undoubtedly the prime driver of a country's overall development but the natural ecosystem and the people who make up the society are also vital for nation building, President Pranab Mukherjee said Monday.

Speaking at the presentation of the CII-ITC Sustainability Awards 2012, Mukherjee said: "We need to usher in a culture of social responsibility in the governance of Indian companies."

"Indian business, by integrating social and environmental objectives in their operations, can make a positive contribution for the betterment of our society. Inclusive growth should not be a mere slogan but a fundamental driving force for sustainable development," he said.

The president said the imperative to grow rapidly amidst difficult global circumstances is not the only challenge though and as we progress on our chosen path of inclusive growth, we are confronted with a multitude of challenges.

"Challenges such as poverty alleviation, mitigation of environmental degradation, response to climate change, increasing competition in international markets, escalation in energy demand, and many more," he said.

Appealing to the Indian industry to be part of the sustainability movement and participate in true nation-building, Mukherjee said: "What is necessary for our industry is a belief that the compulsion of creating value for a business cannot be separated from our concern for society and environment."

He said that environmental sustainability finds an important place in today's global discourse on growth and development.

"While ensuring universal access to natural resources, we must also promote its efficient use. Most economic activities depend on products and services provided by the ecosystem. In order to sustain the pace of economic growth, businesses must be able to operate without compromising the future capacity of the ecosystem," he said.

The president's remarks assume significance as they come against the backdrop of the Prime Minister's Office mulling doing away with Forest Rights Act which envisages consent of tribal people before any forest land is taken for non-forest use like infrastructure projects and mining.

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