Environment minister Prakash Javadekar will start nationwide consultations — called chintan shivirs — where he will meet forest officials and talk about the government’s move to change environmental laws and the need to adopt traditional ways of conserving nature.
This will be Javadekar’s first nationwide consultation since taking charge as minister in June 2014 after which the NDA government made more than 40 changes in environmental regulations.
“The idea is to have an open house with 150-200 forest officers in different age groups and take their feedback on what they think is wrong with the country’s environment management and ways to improve it,” said a Javadekar aide. “The minister will also emphasise that foresters should propagate the traditional Indian way of living has been environment friendly.”
The chintan shivirs come at a time when the environment ministry is pushing a new environmental regime by amending five environmental laws to boost ease of doing business in India, a move activists say will reduce environment protection measures.
“The amendments proposed would be disastrous for our environment and should not be pursued at all,” environmental lawyer Ritwik Dutta told a Parliamentary Standing Committee last week.
Javadekar said he wanted to hold the chintan shivirs to change the ministry’s negative image its policies has given it as well as to make environment regulation transparent and accountable.
“My idea was opposed by some officers but I have decided to go ahead with it,” he said.
The minister spoke about a broad-based consultative process at the Indian Science Congress in Mumbai this month, saying that ancient Indian scientific theories were based on centuries of observations.
“We should draw upon the knowledge of ancient Indian science concepts and explore possibilities of their application in the modern world,” he said.
The minister also directed officials to hold an exhibition at the ministry’s headquarters on conserving environment using Vedic methods.
“We are in touch with some Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh affiliate organisations to put up demonstrative models on Vedic ways of conserving nature,” a ministry official said.
The first chintan shivir will be held at Bengaluru on February 8-9, where a motivational speaker will address forest officials and other issues will be discussed, including cleaning rivers, social forestry and air pollution. The minister plans to hold four such sessions in different parts of the country.