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#Modi2: 5 reasons PM Narendra Modi's green promises have wilted

Salma Rehman | Updated on: 28 May 2016, 11:24 IST

Two years ago Prime Minister Narendra Modi rode into 7, Race Course Road on a proverbial chariot of glossy promises of clean energy and river rejuvenation.

But the reality of the last two years is in contrast to what was promised. After just a few months in power, Modi sarkaar was accused of restricting the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change into merely facilitating clearances for corporate projects.

During his two-year stint at the Centre, here's how Modi has failed miserably in addressing the country's environmental concerns:

1) Modi government's ambitious river interlinking project is facing severe criticism from environmentalists across the country. The unprecedented river diversion programme involves rerouting water from major rivers including the Ganges and Brahmaputra and creating canals to link the Ken and Betwa rivers in central India and Damanganga-Pinjal in the west.

However, environmental experts consider the project catastrophic for India's river-dependent ecology which might deprive the tribal communities of their land holdings and may even cause flooding and soil erosion.

Moreover, there are possibilities of the interlinking projects leading to further disputes not just between states, but with the neighbouring government of Bangladesh as well.

2) The government has not been able to make good on a number of promises made around the rejuvenation of river Ganga, for which a massive scheme - Namami Ganga - and a separate ministry was formed.

Calling the 'Clean Ganga' scheme a failure, the National Green Tribunal slammed the Centre and Uttar Pradesh government for their failure to turn the initiative into even a marginal success.

Nothing concrete has been done so far to manage the massive waste disposal (2,700 million litres a day) from the cities situated along the banks of the river. Experts claim that a significant amount of funding from the scheme is going into the construction of sewage treatment plants - a move that might prove to be detrimental to river conservation as it is related to urban waste management.

3) The policy of the Ministry of Environment and Forests to decentralise power from the state to the local level (by setting up District Environment Impact Assessment Authority/State Wetland Regulatory Authority under the draft 'Wetland Rules, 2016') has also been viewed with scepticism.

Some believe that the government is trying to abdicate its constitutional responsibility with respect to the environment by such decisions.

The Centre has also been accused of 'diluting' the Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006 by its proposed amendments. In this context, the move of the Union Tribal ministry allowing the Maharashtra government to have complete control over forest management and sale of forest produce was soundly denounced.

The National Convention Against Illegal Grabbing of Forests and Forest Lands, on 4 May observed- "The Central government is facilitating the illegal takeover of forest land through encouraging diversion of forest land without Gram Sabha's consent, plantations on people's lands, and by funding of parallel institutions intended to displace the powers of the gram sabha."

4) World Health Organisation recently released a list which suggested that six of the 10 most polluted cities in the world are in India. As per the WHO report, Gwalior Allahabad, Patna, Raipur, Ludhiana, and Delhi have some of the highest concentration of particulate pollution which can cause fatal damage to the heart and lungs.

After the report, a number of environmental activists criticised Modi sarkaar for its inefficacy in addressing the country's pollution woes.

The government has made colossal promises such as announcing a $30 million solar energy plan at the Paris Climate Summit and agreeing to meet Euro VI emission standards by 2020, but nothing much has really materialised in the last two years.

5) The Centre has been facing backlash for its decision on GM mustard - which has been rigidly opposed by civil society organisations, including those affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on grounds of bio-safety and market control by seed firms.

Activists say after the introduction of this crop, India will be a gateway to several other GM food crops - tomato, rice, brinjal, etc - which may pose health and ecological risks.

The government has also been hauled up for its lack of transparency on this issue, and especially on the data pertaining to this crop's safety.

Edited by- Abha Srivastava

First published: 28 May 2016, 11:24 IST