As told to Parliament (July 22, 2019): States asked to form biotechnology coordination panels against GM crops

All that was discussed in the House through the day

By DTE Staff
Published: Monday 22 July 2019

Electrification of public transport

Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Arvind Ganpat Sawant told the Rajya Sabha on July 22, 2019 that the government notified Phase-II of FAME India (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India) scheme on March 8, 2019. The scheme will mainly focus on supporting electrification of public and shared transportation. It also aims to support about 7,000 e-buses, 5 lakh e-3 wheelers, 55,000 e-4 wheeler passenger cars and 10 lakh e-2 wheelers through subsidies.

Action against illegal cultivation of GM crops

Babul Supriyo, Minister of State for environment, forest and climate change told the Rajya Sabha on July 22, 2019 that the environment ministry has received complaints on illegal cultivation of genetically modified (GM) cotton and brinjal in Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra, and Punjab. He added that all states/Union territories (UTs) have been directed to constitute and strengthen state/UT Biotechnology Coordination Committees and district-level committees to monitor instances of illegal cultivation of GM crops and take appropriate action under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

While a farmers’ union had sown herbicide tolerant BT cotton seed as a token in July 2019, the government is not aware of spread of a pro-GM crop movement in Maharashtra, said Supriyo.

Decline in population of Great Indian Bustard

There has been decline in population of Great Indian Bustard owing to various reasons like inter alia collision with wind mill turbines and electrocution from overhead power lines, Supriyo told the Upper House while adding that there are around 150 GIB in the country currently.

The Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun (WII) has mapped all major power lines within the critical bustard habitats of Jaisalmer and Kutch, he said. The satellite that tagged bustards in Kutch have also provided invaluable information on the movement patterns of these birds. Based on this, WII recommended mitigation measures like under-grounding of power lines and installation of bird diverters.

Reduction in time taken for getting green clearance

The government has reduced the number of days taken to complete the procedure of getting environmental clearance from 640 to 108. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is considering to further bring down the time taken to grant approvals by implementing the single-window integrated environmental management system named PARIVESH (Pro-Active and Responsive facilitation by Interactive, Virtuous and Environmental Single-window Hub).

Depletion in groundwater levels

About 61 per cent of wells monitored have registered decline in groundwater levels, according to an analysis of water level data, said Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat in the Rajya Sabha. Central Ground Water Board is periodically monitoring the ground water levels throughout the country on a regional scale, through a network of monitoring wells.

To assess the decline in water level on a long-term basis, pre-monsoon water level data collected by CGWB in 2019 has been compared with the decadal average (2009-2018). 

Sanitation coverage

Under Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin), 9.68 crore toilets were constructed till July 17, 2019.  As a result, sanitation coverage in rural areas has increased to more than 99 per cent from 39 per cent on October 2, 2014. Also, 30 States, 622 districts, 6,261 blocks, 2,51,317 gram panchayats and 5,70,592 villages have been declared open defecation free, said Shekhawat told the Rajya Sabha.

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