Get the focus on environment and health, Mr Prime Minister
EVERY NEW GOVERNMENT comes with baggage and opportunity. The problem is since the government is new, it wants to undo what has been done in the past, make new schemes and start again on the learning curve. The opportunity is that there is a new drive to do more, to deliver and to push for change.
Keeping these two facts in mind, we are presenting the Environment and Development Agenda for the BJP government that took charge on May 26, 2014, ahead of the World Environment Day.
First, what we do not want the new government to do. One, in the name of development it must not brush aside the idea that the environment, forest and wildlife concerns are critical. This does not mean we believe the current environment and forest clearance system is working. We want a drastic reform of the system so that it works for environmental protection. This requires reducing multiplicity of clearances, removing archaic laws and strengthening regulatory processes. The new government must not be bullied by the Supreme Court into creating an additional environmental regulator. This will only add to the institutional mess.
Two, we do not want the new government to discard old schemes which were introduced for inclusive growth. All the schemes for rural employment, water and sanitation, housing, nutrition and education are crucial. Without these, there is no idea of India.
But again, we want a change. We want delivery so that people have access to clean water, sanitation, employment, food and education. We have lost too much time making schemes on paper and then fiddling to make them even better, without ever focusing on delivery.
It is our belief that delivery requires good old-fashioned governance systems, which need constant monitoring and attention to detail. The delivery of schemes does require states to get more autonomy and control over funds and programme design. In the current system the Centre makes the plan, provides the money, but it is the state that has to operationalise the system of implementation. There is a huge disconnect. It is the state chief minister who should be accountable for delivery; it is he or she who should get the brickbats or the credit.
It is also our belief that people's aspirations have changed. They want more. They should get more. They should not be short-changed, once again, in the name of development, which benefits only some.
The new prime minister has famously and rightly said that toilets are more important than temples. This is the real agenda for the new government.