We care for nature more: Javadekar

Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar during a Interview with The Hindu in New Delhi on Sunday. Photo: R. V. Moorthy

Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar during a Interview with The Hindu in New Delhi on Sunday. Photo: R. V. Moorthy  

‘One lakh industries will soon be monitored for pollution’

Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has come in for criticism often since he assumed office last year, but in an interview to The Hindu on Sunday, he said his Ministry was not diluting environmental laws. On the contrary, he argued, it was making compliance with law the mainstay of the Ministry, something previous governments did not do.

“Actually, our government in the past eight months has showcased that we care for nature more and we have made conditions of environmental protection more stringent. We have said that more than 3,000 industries from 17 critically polluting industrial sectors should have 24x7 pollution monitoring devices to be set up at effluent discharge points and chimney stacks,” he said.

The Ministry is reviewing pollution preparedness and planning to cover 1,00,000 industries within 24-hour monitoring in the next three years. “Fresh air is our birthright,” he said. “Our mandate is simple — clean water, clean air and energy and more greenery — these are the four things on which we are building our environment protection.”

He said steps were being taken to avoid delay in clearances. “We are taking policy-based decisions. We are making processes transparent and time-bound but there is no compromise on environmental conditions, they will remain as they are or even more stringent.”

Though the report of the high-level committee on revising green laws has not yet been fully accepted by the Ministry, it has advertised for a technical consultant. Mr. Javadekar said this was in order as it did not have a single advocate and there were hundreds of cases daily. “So we have asked legal firms to join us to protect the environment. The Parliamentary Committee can look at the high-level committee report on their own — it’s their right and we are happy as we need inputs.”

He said laws could be changed during the Budget session.

“I am working on two or three contingency plans — if I can bring about all comprehensive changes in one go — that’s the best case scenario, but you can’t rush through it. Then there is Plan B — and that is to take immediate steps. There will be no ordinances; we are into the session. It’s about bringing in some changes which are immediately necessary and comprehensive changes later. By March-end, the picture will be clear.”

GM trials to continue

On the issue of GM crops, Mr. Javadekar said the BJP mandate was very clear on scientific evaluation and safe field trials were part of it.

“We are not going ahead with [approving] Bt brinjal. But we are going ahead with field trials. The Supreme Court can decide on the issue of field trials and we can’t force the court. But you can’t stop science … safeguards are the key.”

On accounts of NGOs being frozen, he said: “We have not prevented anyone from speaking out, but government has clarified more than enough on this issue and even if they are stopped from going abroad, they are speaking on Skype. You can’t stop conversation.”

(Click >here to read full text of the interview)

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 3:57:51 AM |

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