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For the first time in Punjab, a party is set to release a green manifesto aimed specifically at addressing concerns of the environment. Increasing green cover, groundwater management, cleaning of rivers (mainly the Sutlej and Beas), eliminating stubble burning and providing straw management machinery to farmers on subsidized rates are some of the points that the Congress will seek to address.
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Apart from this, the party will also setup a separate Punjab State Environment Commission, a body which will be accountable to the government and work solely on environment issues in the state. Speaking to The Indian Express, Manpreet Badal, convenor of Congress’ manifesto committee confirmed that the Green Manifesto will be released soon.
“It is probably for the first time in the country that a political party will come up with a Green Manifesto. For Congress, degrading environment, depleting groundwater and reducing forest cover of Punjab is one the biggest concerns. Our manifesto is the need of the hour and extremely crucial for Punjab. We have prepared a separate green agenda. No political party ever has come out clearly or stated any concrete plan when it comes to environment but Congress will be the first to do that,” said Badal.
The party is yet to decide if the green manifesto will be launched separately or along with the main manifesto and gender manifesto, which too will be a separate document.
Speaking to The Indian Express, a senior party politician confirmed, “A green manifesto is the a priority for Punjab. We are not releasing a it just for the sake of it like the AAP has served old things to the youth, farmers and industry till now. It is for the first time ever in Punjab elections that a party will focus on future generations, environment concerns, climate change and steps to solve the problem.”
Expected to be released in mid-November, the green manifesto will also include a plan to promote solar energy, measures to replenish depleting water table, reducing water wastage and will make State Environment Commission accountable to the government.
“The commission is going to have teeth, it is not going to be a paper tiger. It will also coordinate with the industry stakeholders to reduce industrial pollution in Ludhiana, Mandi Gobindigarh, Jalandhar etc,” said the senior politician. Also, the plan is to rope in leading environmentalists to join Congress’ massive campaign against pollution and environmental degradation which it will be starting as part of its campaigning during the polls.
It was a unanimous decision to portray environment, pollution and forests conservation as one of the main agenda of the party for the Punjab polls, the party source added.