General Elections 2019

Finally, both BJP and Congress manifestos talk climate change

A long way to go, but at least a start for India and its people

 
By Kundan Pandey
Last Updated: Wednesday 10 April 2019
The Delhi Smog. Photo: Vikas Choudhary/CSE
The Delhi smog. Photo: Vikas Choudhary/CSE The Delhi smog. Photo: Vikas Choudhary/CSE

2019 is the first time that climate change has featured in the manifestoes of India’s two major political parties, the Indian National Congress (INC) and Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP).

The BJP, which released its manifesto on April 8, 2019, has not only underlined the issue of climate change but also the effort it has been making to tackle the challenges related to it.

Through its manifesto, the party said that the Narendra Modi government has made ambitious plans to establish renewable energy capacity of 175 gigawatt (GW) by 2022. The BJP claims that under it, India has managed to achieve a capacity of 76.87 GW and the party would keep working to achieve the target.

The incumbent party has also talked about ‘Green Bonus’ a long-pending demand. According to its manifesto, if the BJP comes to power again, it will offer special help to Himalayan states in the form of ‘Green Bonus’. This will be for forest conservation. 

The party also underlined the air pollution issues which have been quite mainstream in the last few years. BJP has promised to focus on 102 most polluted Indian cities to resolve the issue of air pollution.

The BJP’s opponent, the INC’s manifesto was discussed for one major scheme namely ‘Nyay’ because it had promised to give Rs 72,000 to every poor family of the country. But there were a few things which can give hope to environmentalists and citizens alike.

For instance, the Congress party’s manifesto underlined the problem of deteriorating soil quality. The oldest political party of the country promised to launch two major programmes which would be implemented through Gram Sabhas and urban local bodies. These programmes include the Water Bodies Restoration Mission for repairing and restoring water bodies as well as the Wasteland Regeneration Mission for regeneration and afforestation of wastelands and degraded lands.

The main opposition party also recognised ‘air pollution’ as a national public health emergency and made a promise to strengthen the National Clean Air Programme.

Moving one step ahead, the Maharashtra Congress office released a separate manifesto for the environment on April 8, 2019. Through this, the party makes the promise that it will work to preserve biodiversity and natural resources.

The Maharashtra Congress manifesto was launched with the agenda ‘Nothing at the cost of the environment’. It talks about the preservation of the rich biodiversity of the Western Ghats and the formulation of a comprehensive land and water use policy. Along with these promises, the manifesto also talks about a ban on the import of waste and restricting the discharge of effluents in the river.

Going in detail may reveal serious flaws in the promises these political parties are making but it is positive sign that Indian political parties now have realised the importance of the environment and its impact on people. That is a good beginning.

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