PM Modi cautions states against delaying environmental clearances
He called for clearing them sooner as projects worth thousands of crores of rupees will be stuck due to the pendency
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday urged state environment ministers against unnecessarily allowing obstacles in the name of the environment and to ensure ease of living and doing business while highlighting the importance of the parivesh portal for the single-window forest, wildlife, environment, and coastal regulation zone clearances.
He said over 6,000 proposals for environmental and 6,500 for forest clearance were pending with the states. He called for clearing them sooner as projects worth thousands of crores of rupees will be stuck due to the pendency.
Modi underlined the need for bringing about a change in the work environment so that the pendency goes down and clearance is expedited.
“Expedited clearances should also take care of the rules and give priority to the development of the people... It is a win-win situation for both the economy and ecology. …we have to remember the faster the environment clearance is available, the faster the development will also take place,” he said in his address at an environment ministers’ conference.
The conference has been convened to improve synergy between the Central and state governments in formulating policies on issues such as plastic pollution elimination and for action plans to combat climate change with a focus on the Lifestyle for the Environment (LiFE) Movement. Modi launched LiFE in June for people to have a lifestyle in tune with their planet.
Modi cautioned against “urban naxals”, a term used for intellectuals allegedly linked to Maoists, delaying environmental clearances. He blamed them for hindering development by taking money from global organisations.
Modi said Gujarat’s Sardar Sarovar Dam was initiated in 1961 when Jawaharlal Nehru was the Prime Minister but its completion took decades due to conspiracies of “certain groups” in the name of the environment.
He said World Bank refused to give a loan to increase the height of the dam due to their conspiracies. “It took some time to thwart these conspiracies, but the people of Gujarat came out victorious. The dam was being described as a threat to the environment, and today the same has become synonymous with protecting the environment.”
Modi underlined flyovers, roads, expressways, and railway projects help in reducing carbon emissions. “At the time of clearances, we should not ignore this angle.”
Modi said New Delhi’s Pragati Maidan tunnel, which was inaugurated this year, has eased the trouble of the people, who would get stuck in traffic, with a reduction in jams. He said it will help save over 5.5 million litres of fuel annually. “This will reduce carbon emissions by about 13 thousand tonnes every year which is equivalent to more than 600000 trees, experts have said.”
Modi said environment clearances would earlier take over 600 days eight years ago but now just 75 days. He said the coordination in executing infrastructure projects has improved. Modi said many projects have gained momentum since the implementation of PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan for multimodal connectivity infrastructure.
Modi referred to the net-zero target for 2070 and added the country’s focus is on green growth and green jobs. He said India’s share in global emissions is negligible. Modi referred to wildfires and said India has to stay alert to such disasters and use technology in dealing with them.
He said the role of the environment ministry is more of a promoter of the environment than a regulator. Modi asked the states to work on measures such as vehicle scrapping policy and ethanol blending. “Measures like chemical-free natural farming, Mission Amrit Sarovar for water security are not limited to the individual departments...the environment department will also have to consider these as an equally pressing challenge.”
He said the National Education Policy lays a lot of emphasis on experienced-based learning. “The environment ministry should lead this campaign. This will create awareness about biodiversity among the children and will also plant the seeds of protecting the environment.”
Modi said children living in coastal areas should be taught how to protect the marine ecosystem. “We have to make our children and future generations sensitive toward the environment.”