NDA did well on pollution but slow on flagship schemes: CSE

New Delhi : The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) on Tuesday appreciated the BJP-led central government’s work on pollution control and monitoring but also pointed out tardiness in its flagship programmes like sanitation and Ganga rejuvenation.

“The NDA government has taken few important steps towards improving the way we manage our environment and our resources. At the same time, a few of the big steps that it has initiated are in the danger of remaining mere half-measures if a course correction is not carried out immediately,” said Chandra Bhushan, Deputy Director General, CSE, in a study launched on the completion of two years of the NDA government.

Support TwoCircles

CSE said several positive measures with respect to pollution control and monitoring have been proposed, but termed the Climate Change Conference-COP21, held last year in Paris as a “missed opportunity”.

“The agreement remained largely one for the big polluters, where no targets have been set for developed countries to cut emissions,” said Bhushan, adding “On the other hand, India lost the opportunity to exert the ‘right of development’ of the world’s poor.”

“The undermining of people’s participation in green clearances is also worrisome. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government continues to dilute the public hearing process,” CSE Director General Sunita Narain said.

However, the study appreciated the central government’s technology-based mechanisms like Continuous Emissions Monitoring Systems (CEMS), air quality index, LPG connections to poor families, six waste management rules and announcements to setup Euro VI emissions standards by 2020.

It also observed that mining and infrastructure sector remains a focus of green clearances.

CSE said that over 300 projects for coal and non-coal mining were given environment clearances and 47,473 hectares of forest land was diverted, of which 29 per cent is for mining.

“There is a suggestive trend of shifting from a people-centric to a more industry-centric and technocratic approach,” says Bhushan.

The study pointed out how a major effort of the government remains focused on unlocking the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) of Rs 42,000 crore.

The CSE study however remained unsatisfied with the groundwork on cleaning the Ganga river.

“Despite an outlay of Rs 20,000 crore for five years till 2019 for cleaning the Ganga, and several promising plans, action on the ground for cleaning and rejuvenating the river remains far from satisfactory,” Narain said.

On the Swachh Bharat Mission, Narain said that so far the success of the programme has been around building toilets which will clearly not be enough.

“There is very little focus on managing the waste from these toilets which, if not handled properly, can contaminate ground and surface water,” she said.

CSE, however, saw some signs on the domestic front on climate change.

“The government has also increased the ambition of renewable energy, 100 gigawatt (GW) for solar and 75 GW for other renewable by 2022, that can be helpful in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions,” the study said.