‘Maximum global talk, minimum local walk’ is principle followed by PM Modi: Congress
The Congress on Friday hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who told the COP 28 meeting in Dubai that India has "struck a great balance between ecology and economy", saying this was "yet another of his trademark falsehoods".
New Delhi, Dec 1 (IANS) The Congress on Friday hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who told the COP 28 meeting in Dubai that India has "struck a great balance between ecology and economy", saying this was "yet another of his trademark falsehoods".
In a statement, Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh said: "Maximum global talk, minimum local walk is the principle followed by the Prime Minister. He has claimed in Dubai that India has ‘struck a great balance between ecology and economy’. This is yet another of his trademark falsehoods."
The former Union Environment Minister said that Forest Conservation Act, 1980 has been made completely hollow with a 2023 amendment which axes provisions for consent of forest communities and removes protections for 25 per cent of India’s forest cover, in violation of the 1996 TN Godavarman Supreme Court order. "It is paving the way for the Modi government to exploit forests and hand them over to a select few chosen corporates," he alleged.
He also said that the Forest Rights Act of 2006, protecting the traditional rights of Adivasis and forest-dwelling communities, has been weakened with a 2022 notification, and the National Biodiversity Act, 2002 massively diluted to allow private companies easier access to forests without benefit-sharing with communities.
He also said that when the entire world was dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, the Modi government passed 39 amendments to rules under the Environment Protection Act. "Illegal and regressive changes were made to relax environmental protections -- pollution control measures were removed, penalties for violations were lowered, criminal prosecutions were stripped, and public notice requirements were waived," he said.
The Congress leader said that the Environmental Impact Assessment norms have been continuously weakened since 2020.
".. In eco-sensitive areas like the Himalayan region, the Modi government has illegally bypassed the need for Environmental Impact Assessment by splitting large projects into small segments,” he said, citing the Silkyara tunnel collapse as a symptom of the larger malaise. He also alleged that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has been consistently weakened since 2014 as vacancies have been left open for years, reaching 70 per cent overall in 2018 and leading to the shutdown of its Chennai bench.
"Lastly, and most importantly, air pollution has turned into a grave public health crisis under the Modi government, becoming a major threat to life expectancy. From 2015 to 2020 alone, the share of Indians exposed to PM2.5 above 100 has doubled, reversing improvements over the previous years," he said.
“How can anyone take what the Prime Minister says globally on environment seriously in light of his disastrous track record in India?" Ramesh asked.