“Enforcement has been the priority of my ministry in the past one year”, said Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change( MOEFCC), Prakash Javadekar, addressing a press meet on the completion of a year in office. “India has multiple laws and regulations but where it is lacking is enforcement,” said the minister.
Highlighting the progress made by the Ministry, Javadekar said it has unlocked the unused amount of over 30,000 crores in the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA), which was taken from project holders for compensatory afforestation.
“In the case of private projects, we require stakeholders to give us land equal to the size they require in a non-forest area which can be utilized as forest land, and so we have added over 20,000 acres under forests,” said Javadekar rebutting the allegations of large- scale diversion of land for industrial purposes.
“In case of public projects, we demand a double compensation for the land taken, so overall, there has been more addition than reduction of forest land,” he added. Calling the perceived contradiction between the government’s agenda of development and the Ministry’s mandate of protecting the environment, a non-existent problem, the Minister said, development without destruction is very much possible.
“We have so far closed 124 non-complying industries, and are monitoring industries on a day-to day basis to reduce pollution levels,” said Javadekar. The green body has also imposed stringent checks on the cement industry, considered to be the second most polluting industry, in India.
Addressing the rising pollution levels in New Delhi, the Minister said, “The condition of air has deteriorated since 2007 it is not a recent phenomenon. The National Air Quality Index launched by us is a paramount step in this direction.”
He also called for a joint effort by agencies and governments of neighbouring states to help curb pollution. “Pollution is greater in Delhi because of the air shade it shares with other states like Punjab and Haryana. We are looking to rope in everyone’s help to tackle this problem,” he said.