Political parties show concern for environment in Punjab elections

Promise clean air and water; subsidies on solar appliances

By Jyotika Sood
Published: Monday 13 February 2012

Apart from the usual promises made by political parties, the Punjab elections witnessed something different this time—a focus on environmental issues. The issues varied from cleaning rivers to reduction of pesticides and fertilisers to save the state’s ecology. The parties even promised a separate portfolio for environment to be held by a Cabinet minister. The fate of candidates contesting the Punjab elections was sealed on January 30.

The main opposition, Congress, noted that the state has ruined its environment due to excessive use of pesticides and fertilisers. It said the situation has further aggravated due to water and land pollution from urban areas.

It said that if it would come to power it would promote clean energy and find effective ways for waste management by installing sewer treatment plants and converting municipal solid waste into bio-compost and manure. It promised to increase forest and tree cover in the next five years through tree plantation drives, involving government departments, schools and civil society organisations.

For promotion of solar technology, the Congress said it would subsidise equipment and installation costs in residential areas. In villages it promised to give cash awards of up to Rs 3 lakh to the panchayats that have 100 per cent households covered by renewable energy sources. This also includes bio-gas plants. To control the decreasing water-table, Congress presented water-harvesting as the solution. It plans to make it mandatory for all new constructions like group housing, multi-storey residential and commercial building to have water harvesting facilities.

The Congress also plans to bring in a stringent environmental pollution policy that includes regulation and ban of polythene and promotion of eco-friendly alternatives such as cloth and jute bags across the state within a year, if it is voted to power.

SAD-BJP alliance: clean air, clean water, clean soil

While the ruling alliance of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) did not speak about environmental problems during its rule, this time it plans a movement to improve the environment in Punjab. They have made commitment for clean air, clean water and clean soil.

The alliance promised a separate environment ministry to be headed by a Cabinet minister if voted to power. They also plan to introduce ecology as a compulsory subject in schools and audit environment in areas where ecology is under severe threat. Besides, the parties plan to effectively enforce ban on plastic.

The parties said they will clean all rivers and rivulets and make it a regular feature. The SAD-BJP government also plans to set up an Environmental Preservation Task Force to monitor and follow-up of government decisions on environmental issues.

It will also include environmentalists as special invitees in the board of the State Pollution Control Board, which decides on government policies. They plan to promote organic farming through incentives and marketing.

The alliance also plans to step up subsidy on solar heaters and subsidise solar appliances. CFLs will be given free under a special scheme.

People’s Party of Punjab: charity begins at home

The People’s Party of Punjab, a newly floated party, formed by Manpreet Badal, nephew of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, following a tiff has issued a 100-day agenda. Under it, a project would be launched for cleaning rivers. The project would be headed by a committee comprising of social reformers and environmentalists and the work would start with cleaning of rivers Sutlej and Beas, the two lifelines of Punjab.

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