Centre and States must together move towards a green industrial economy, says Modi
New Delhi, September 23, 2022
Drawing attention to India’s promise to cut emissions to net zero by 2070, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the focus of the country was on green growth and green jobs.
Inaugurating the National Conference of Environment Ministers in Ekta Nagar, Kevadiya, Gujarat via video conferencing, Modi stressed the need to maintain equilibrium with nature. He also highlighted the role of the environment ministries of the states in achieving these goals.
“I urge all environment ministers to promote a circular economy as much as possible in the states. It will significantly strengthen the Solid Waste Management campaign and will free us from the clutches of single-use plastic,” he added.
The Prime Minister said the role of the environment ministries should not be seen in a restricted manner. “I think the role of the Ministry is more as a promoter of the environment rather than as a regulator," he said.
He urged the states to own the measures like the vehicle scrapping policy and promotion of biofuels like ethanol blending and strengthen them on the ground. He asked for healthy competition as well as collaboration among the states to promote these measures.
He said the conference was being held when India was setting new goals for the next 25 years. The holistic development of Ekta Nagar was a prime example of an environmental pilgrimage when it comes to forests, water conservation, tourism and the tribal brothers and sisters, he added.
India was not just taking huge strides in the field of renewable energy, but also guiding other nations of the world, Modi said referring to the International Solar Alliance, Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure and LiFE movement. “Today's new India is moving ahead with new thinking, new approach.
“India is a rapidly developing economy and continuously strengthening its ecology as well. Our forest cover has increased and wetlands are also expanding rapidly,” he added.
The world is joining India because of its track record of fulfilling its commitments. “Lions, tigers, elephants, one-horned rhinos and leopards have increased in numbers over the years. The homecoming of the cheetah in Madhya Pradesh a few days ago has generated new excitement,” he said.
On the groundwater issues, the Prime Minister said the states with abundant water resources were also facing water shortages nowadays. The challenges and measures like chemical-free natural farming, Amrit Sarovar and water security were not limited to the individual departments and the environment department will also have to consider these as an equally pressing challenge. “It is critical to work with a participative and integrated approach by the environment ministries. When the vision of the environment ministries changes, I am sure, nature will also be benefitted.”
While stressing that this work is not just limited to Information Department or the Education Department, he said public awareness was another important aspect of protecting the environment. “As you all are well aware that in the National Education Policy that has been implemented in the country, a lot of emphases has been laid on experienced-based learning.”
This campaign should be led by the Ministry of Environment. It will create awareness about biodiversity among the children and plant the seeds of protecting the environment, he said.
“Children who live in our coastal areas should also be taught how to protect the marine ecosystem. We have to make our children and future generations sensitive toward the environment.”
The universities and laboratories in the states should give top priority to innovations related to environmental protection, he said, and underlined the adoption of technology in protecting the environment. “Study and research on the conditions of forests in the forests are equally important,” he added.
Focussing on the alarming rate of forest fires in the western world, he said, “India's share in global emissions may be negligible due to wildfire, but we have to stay alert at all times,” he said. The forest fire fighting mechanism in every state should be technology driven and robust. During the training of forest guards, special emphasis should be given to forest fire fighting.
Pointing out the complications involved in getting environmental clearance, he said such delays hinder the development of modern infrastructure and efforts to improve the standard of living of the people. The Sardar Sarovar dam project, initiated in 1961 by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, took decades to complete construction due to the conspiracies carried out in the name of the environment.
Modi said "Urban Naxals" were hindering the development of India by taking crores of rupees from different global organizations and foundations due to which the World Bank had refused to give a loan to increase the height of the dam.
“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 dam has become synonymous with protecting the environment,” he added.
Referring to the more than 6,000 proposals for environmental clearance and 6,500 applications for forest clearance lying with the states, he said, “Efforts should be made by the states to clear every proper proposal soon. You can guess that due to this pendency, projects worth thousands of crores of rupees will be stuck.”
The Prime Minister also emphasised the need to bring about a change in the work environment so that the pendency goes down and clearance was expedited. “In giving environmental clearance, we also take care of the rules and give priority to the development of the people of that area. It is a win-win situation for both the economy and ecology.
“It should be our endeavour that no obstacle should be allowed in the quest of Ease of Living and Ease of Doing Business. We have to remember that the faster the environment clearance is available, the faster the development will also take place,” he added.
The Prime Minister gave the example of the Pragati Maidan tunnel in Delhi that was dedicated to the nation a few weeks ago. “Due to this tunnel, the trouble of the people of Delhi getting stuck in traffic jam has reduced. Pragati Maidan Tunnel will also help in saving more than 55 lakh litres of fuel every year. It will reduce carbon emissions by about 13,000 tonnes every year, equivalent to more than 6 lakh trees, according to experts.
“Be it flyovers, roads, expressways or railway projects, their construction helps in reducing carbon emissions equally. At the time of clearance, we should not ignore this angle,” he said.
He emphasised the use of the Parivesh Portal, a single-window mode for all types of clearances related to the environment while stressing its transparency and efficacy in reducing the rush for getting approvals. “Where environment clearance used to take more than 600 days eight years ago, it takes 75 days at present, ” he added.
Since the implementation of PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan, coordination in infrastructure projects has escalated and many projects have gained momentum. The Master Plan is also a great tool for protecting the environment.
He also stressed the need for disaster-resilient infrastructure. “We have to make good use of every emerging sector of the economy while facing the challenges related to climate change. Both the central and the state governments together have to move towards a green industrial economy.” the Prime Minister added.
“You will find a lot to learn, see and do in Ekta Nagar. Sardar Sarovar Dam, which gives Amrit to crores of people of Gujarat, is present here itself. Such a huge statue of Sardar Saheb inspires us to stick to the pledge of unity,” he added.
Pointing out the learning opportunities in Kevadiya, Ekta Nagar, the Prime Minister remarked that solutions to issues like the simultaneous development of ecology and economy, strengthening of the environment and creation of new employment opportunities, bio-diversity being a medium to increase eco-tourism and how the wealth of the forest goes up with the wealth of tribal brothers and sisters can be addressed here.
Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel and Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Bhupendra Yadav were among those present on the occasion.
The two-day conference will have six thematic sessions with topics focusing on LiFE (Lifestyle for Environment), Combating Climate Change (Updating State Action Plans on Climate Change for Mitigation of Emissions and Adaptation to Climate Impacts); PARIVESH (Single Window System for Integrated Green Clearances); Forestry Management; Prevention and Control of Pollution; Wildlife Management; Plastics and Waste Management.