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Saturday, Dec 14, 2019

Environmental degradation a global concern, says commerce minister Goyal

chandigarh Updated: Nov 16, 2019 22:53 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Union minister of railways and commerce Piyush Goyal at a conference on ‘Environmental Law: Challenges and Solutions’ in Mohali on Saturday.
Union minister of railways and commerce Piyush Goyal at a conference on ‘Environmental Law: Challenges and Solutions’ in Mohali on Saturday.(HT photo)
         

Union minister of railways and commerce Piyush Goyal said on Saturday that environmental degradation remained a global concern and India was fighting the same in its own way with economic policies aimed at addressing all related issues. “Good economics can make for good environment and that is the mission of the government,” Goyal said, speaking at a two-day conference on ‘Environmental Law: Challenges and Solutions’, at Chandigarh University, a private varsity in Mohali. Delegates from 11 countries are participating in the conference.

The theme of the conference is relevant for the present times, as Punjab and Haryana are being blamed for the chronic poor air quality in northern India, especially in New Delhi, where schools had to be closed and the state government has resorted to odd-even scheme of rationing road space to check pollution.

On stubble burning, the minister did not offer any solution, but said, “There is a need for delicate balance between environmental concerns and the society’s needs, particularly poverty alleviation, which should be on the agenda of any government.”

To the remark of Supreme Court judge, justice Deepak Gupta at the conference that these days a non-smoker in Delhi was inhaling poor air with smoke equal to 16 cigarettes per day, the minister said, “We share the concern (expressed by the SC judge), but why did not any government think of women who cook food on traditional wooden stoves (who roughly inhaled smoke equal to 400 cigarettes a day) before our government took over,” claiming that today, 90% of such homes had been provided with an LPG connection.

In his address, justice Deepak Gupta had also added that sustainable development should not compromise on environment and if remedial steps were not taken, humanity was headed for a disaster. He also highlighted that courts had to intervene as governments had failed in their duty towards environmental conservation.

“There are enough laws, but enforcement is a problem in India,” the SC judge said, lamenting that the compensatory forestation record of the country was dismal.

In their address, Dr R Carnwath, a Supreme Court judge of the UK, and L Lavrysen,a judge in Belgium constitutional court and president, EU Forum of Judges for environment, spoke about the importance of India’s role in shaping the future.