In Modi’s manifesto, ecology and environment seem to be solely understood in terms of creating a suitable climate for industries disregarding the loss of livelihood, forced land acquisition, irreversible damage to the environment and permanent loss of natural resources
By Rohit Prajapati
The word ‘Environment’ is formally and casually mentioned at 7 places in BJP “MONEY-FESTO – MODI-FESTO” and same is the case with Congress “All is Well Manifesto”.
BJP’s crucial understanding and concerned about environment is mentioned at page 29 “Decision-making on environment clearances will be made transparent as well as time-bound.” The word environment clearance is highlighted in bold, which clearly reflects that Modi’s Money-Festo’s main concern is speedy clearance for the industries and not the environment.
The other word ‘time-bound’ is also clearly reflects that Modi’s Money-Festo’s main concerns is speedy clearance for the industries and not the environment. To make it very clear on the same page the Money-Festo further states “Frame the environment laws in a manner that provides no scope for confusion and will lead to speedy clearance of the proposals without delay.” This well spell-out assurance of Mr. Modi is to the industrialist that they should not worry about environment laws because Modi will remove all their hurdles so that just by filing some papers and giving some vague assurance they will get the clearance. This is the “Gujarat Model of Development” which led Gujarat State to become number one in pollution.
To make it further crystal clear Money-Festo states that “Take all steps: like removing red-tapism involved in approvals, to make it easy to do business, invest in logistics infrastructure, ensure power supply and undertake labor reforms, besides other steps to create a conducive environment for investors.” The Modi-Festo says in very clear words to mortgage the environment and labor laws.
At page 11 Money-Festo states “performance review, social and environment audit would be mandated for all Government Schemes and programmes.” Why should not social and environment audit will also be compulsory for the industries? That means Modi is stating in clear words that when he talks about social and environment audit it is not for industries.
At page 33 Money-Festo states “Sewage treatment plants to prevent the pollution of rivers.” Modi-Festo is completely silent on the issues of river pollution by industrial effluent. At page 36 Money-Festo states “Cleaner fuels will be promoted so as to bring down the pollution levels particularly in the cities.” Modi is completely silent on the issue of air pollution by the industrial cluster in rural and urban areas. It further states “Ecological Audit of projects and pollution indexing of cities and townships will be done on scientific basis.” Modi-Festo does not want to talk about “Ecological Audit – Pollution Indexing” for industrial cluster of India which is called Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index (CEPI). In fact, Gujarat is the most polluted state in India.
On the issue of river pollution there is only mention of river Ganga at page 41 by completely sidelining the issue of number of severely polluted rivers of India and specifically the issue of severely polluted rivers passing through the industrial cluster of Gujarat.
In Gujarat rivers are “used” for industrial and domestic effluent dumping
Constituency of Modi – Vadodara’s rural area’s ground water is highly contaminated and it is red. If you travel just 10-20 kms you can witness reddish ground water.
The word Climate Change at page 35 of Modi-Festo states “encouraging research and application to meet the challenges of climate change and for forecasting prevention and mitigation of natural hazards, particularly floods, cyclones, earthquakes, drought and landslides.” This clearly indicates Modi-Festo’s narrow understanding of climate change which completely ignores the impact of industrial pollutants on climate change. It further states at page 36 “We will take Climate Change mitigation imitative with all seriousness and work with global community and institutions in this regard.” The word Climate Change mentioned very casually and no real program to mitigate the climate change is discussed in the Money-Festo of BJP.
Same understanding is also reflected in Narendra Modi’s book on climate change. In his book- CONVENIENT ACTION – Gujarat’s Response To Challenges of Climate Change- Modi selectively presents information and data, which are convenient to defend the ‘development model’ being pursued by the state. The book completely ignores the information from the ‘Gujarat Ecology Commission’ of the Government of Gujarat, and the press coverage on pollution in Gujarat by almost all newspapers over the last 15 years. Even a Google search on ‘pollution in Gujarat’ would have provided plenty of information.
The author could also have accessed basic information from the Central Pollution Control Board and the Gujarat Pollution Control Board to find out the status of the environment of Gujarat State. Even the Gujarat Ecology Commission report and recent CAG report acknowledges the abysmal status of the environment in Gujarat. Why did Modi base his book on cherry-picked evidence that ignores the level of irreversible environmental degradation in the state of Gujarat?
Modi has included in his book on page 132-133 a photo of the ‘Common Effluent Treatment Plant’ of Vapi, a facility which has not been able to fulfill the environmental norms prescribed by Gujarat Pollution Control Board since many years. While the photo is very large, there is no discussion about the functioning of CETP of Vapi. The book completely ignores the failure of all major ‘industrial effluent treatment facilities’ of Gujarat. Why?
The so-called success story of the two-digit growth and tall claims of capital investment in Gujarat State has masked the several digit realities of loss of livelihood, land acquisition, displacement, irreversible damage to environment and permanent loss of natural resources, which are treated as free goods in this development model. The investment figure, without the figures for displacement, destruction and depletion of natural resources and the employment figure without loss of livelihood does not make sense. No wise person would talk about the income without talking the cost of acquiring that income or wealth.
This capitalist development has never tried to arrive at even a realistic estimate of loss of livelihood, land acquisition, displacement, irreversible damage to environment and permanent loss of natural resources figures but the magnitude of the loss can be guessed from some of the facts emerging from various important research works on status of environment in Gujarat.
“Money-Festo – Modi-Festo” of BJP clearly reflects the understanding of environment of Gujarat Development Model of Mr. Modi.
Rohit Prajapati is a social activist based in Vadodara