Mains Daily Question
Feb. 16, 2024

Q3. “Increasing environmental migration is a tangible reality and is expected to grow significantly in the coming years." In this context, analyze the impact of the rising environmental migration in India and outline the measures India should undertake to effectively confront this challenge. (10M, 150W)

Model Answer


Understanding and structuring the answer:

The answer has 2 main headings - ‘impact of environmental migration in India’ and ‘measures should be undertaken by India to deal with the issues’. It can be structured as given below.


Define environmental migration along with some data.


Heading-1: Write down the impact of environmental migration in India.

Heading-2: Explain how India is trying to deal with the issue.


Conclude in a holistic way by providing the importance of the issue for urgent global effort as environmental migration is a ‘threat multiplier’.

Answer: The escalating issue of environmental migration has garnered widespread attention in recent years, primarily attributed to the shifting climate patterns and environmental degradation. 

As per International Organization of Migration (IOM), environmental migration is referred to as, the movement of a person or groups of persons who, predominantly for reasons of sudden or progressive change in the environment that adversely affects their lives or living conditions, are obliged to leave their habitual place of residence, or choose to do so, either temporarily or permanently, within a State or across an international border

According to the UNHCR : Nearly 32 million displacements caused by environment related issues and climate hazards in 2022, represents a 41 per cent increase compared to 2008 levels. 

Impact of Environmental Migration in India:

  • Large Number of Displacement Events: Current instances of sea-level rise in the Sundarbans, droughts in central India, and floods in the Ganges and Brahmaputra regions displace communities. Also climate-induced migration within India increases due to drought, desertification, and melting glaciers.

Example: There is now a much higher scale of migration from the hills, with entire ghost villages or empty habitations scattered across the Himalayas. According to 2011 census figures, of 16,793 villages in the state 1,053 have no inhabitants and 405 villages have less than 10 residents.


  • Agricultural Challenge and food insecurity: Warming climates reduce agricultural potential, affecting livelihoods and ecosystem services.


  • Lack of urban infrastructure: Leads migrants to crowded, inadequate shelters with limited amenities as Urban areas lack infrastructure to host migrants, exacerbating resource scarcity. Migrants often lack skills for urban employment, posing development challenges.


  • Stress on the Natural Resources: The migrated population in a specific region causes the over exploitation of the natural resources such as water resources  thus further increasing the risk of climate change.


  • Frequent Disease Outbreaks: Climate change is increasing the risk of infectious diseases worldwide. Also due to migration the influx of people in the closed pockets of the city such as slums which are lacking in sanitation infrastructure is further increasing the risk of disease outbreaks in the communities.


  • Social Conflict: Climate change is fuelling social conflicts.

Example: The UNHCR finds that 80% of displaced people worldwide live in areas with acute food insecurity. The desperation over existential resources is sharpening struggles.



  • Loss of Biodiversity in India: Due to the diversion of the forest land to accommodate the migrating population. 


Example: India has four biodiversity hotspots and 90% of this area has been lost, according to the Centre for Science and Environment’s (CSE) new report entitled ‘State of India’s Environment in Figures 2021’. 


  • Proximity to Bangladesh: Shared ecological zones and borders make India susceptible to a substantial influx of migrants from Bangladesh.

Example: The Sundarbans Delta of Bangladesh is one of the high-risk areas and it is estimated that around 50–120 million climate refugees might migrate to India. India needs to be prepared for this crisis and develop a sound refugee policy framework. 


Measures India should Undertake to Effectively Confront the Challenges of Environmental  Migration:


  • Agricultural Resilience: Develop climate-resilient agricultural systems, including drought-resistant crops.

Example: Development of drought-resistant crop varieties like millets in rain-deficient regions. 

  • Livelihood Support and food security in vulnerable  areas:  This would involve supporting the livelihoods of people and strengthening social support systems, particularly for women, children, and Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe populations.

For example: social security measures, including the PDS, NREGA etc.

  • More Resilient Infrastructure:Ensure mega-cities are less vulnerable to the effects of mass urbanization.Long-term plans for financing rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in climate-induced disasters.

Example: National Smart Cities Mission,National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) provides financial assistance for rehabilitation after climate disasters.

Example: India is part of Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. 


  • Need of a Sound Refugee Policy Framework: India needs to develop a proper policy and framework for the climate induced migrants and refugees.


  • International Cooperation: India has been actively engaging in international cooperation on the issue of environmental migration, recognizing the global significance of addressing this challenge. Also India provides capacity building support to other developing countries to enhance their resilience to climate change-induced migration. This  includes training programs, workshops, and knowledge-sharing initiatives aimed at building local capacities to adapt to climate impacts.

Example: Paris Agreement


An urgent global effort is required to establish an international framework and a recognised definition for addressing migration caused by environmental  challenges, ensuring the protection of individuals compelled to relocate due to environmental shifts.

Subjects : Environment
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