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PM Modi launches national air quality index, says India must lead global campaign on climate change

Modi said that our contribution to level of pollution one of the lowest in the world.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: April 6, 2015 7:21:51 pm
Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a two days press conference on the state environment and forest at vigyan bhawan on 6th march 2015. (Source: Express photo by Renuka Puri) Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a two days press conference on the state environment and forest at vigyan bhawan on 6th march 2015. (Source: Express photo by Renuka Puri)

Using the platform of a conference of state environment ministers to address an international audience, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked the world not to lecture it on environment protection and question its commitment on climate change.

Death by Breath: Read this Express series on Delhi’s air pollution

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the two-day conference, Modi said it was ironical that India, which has respect for nature ingrained in its civilisation, is seen as a country which is not doing enough for protecting environment and fighting climate change. He said India must wrest the global leadership on this front and should frame its policies with this goal in mind.

“Ye ek aisa vishay hai jo hamari bapauti hai, hamara DNA hai. Hamare purvajon ne is vishay me maanav jaati ki bahut badi seva ki hai. Vishwa ka netritwa hamare paas hi hona chahiye, climate ke sambandh me. Ye hamari parampara hai. Duniya ko hum sikha sakte hain (Environment protection is a subject on which we have a long legacy, it is in our DNA. Our ancestors have made huge contributions in this regard. We must acquire the global leadership in the climate change debate. This has been our tradition. We can teach the world),” Modi said.

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modi_em3 Prime Minister Narendra Modi with principal secretary to Nripendra Misra during the press conference. (Source: Express photo by Renuka Puri)

“Because of some reason, may be because we had been enslaved for centuries, we have not been able to present our case (on global forums) on climate change. May be we have not been confident enough and feel the world will make fun of us. But the fact is that we have been extremely sensitive to environment and that has been our tradition. We belong to a tradition where nature is considered God, where preservation of nature is linked to human emotions. The world cannot question our commitment. The right thing would have been that India should have taken the lead on the climate debate,” Modi said.

“The crisis that the world is facing, I feel India must take the lead to save the world. It cannot be the case that the world guides us on climate change and we follow, that the world lays down parameters and we follow that. This cannot be the case. We can lead the world, guide the world. India can show the world way out of the crisis. We should frame our policies accordingly with this confidence,” he said.

He said even now the world was unable to find a way out of the climate change crisis. “That is because the world is looking at peripheral issues. I have always said the root of the problem lies in changing our lifestyles, in moving away from consumerism. A higher degree of consumerism brings with it greater exploitation of nature. Till we focus on our lifestyles, we will not be able to deal with the problem effectively, despite our best efforts,” Modi said.

The Prime Minister also took a dig at countries which have denied help to India to promote its civilian nuclear programme. “The same people who lecture us on environment, deny us fuel for our nuclear (reactors). Such double standards do not help anyone,” he said.

Modi said there was no contradiction between economic development and environment protection. “That is a complete misconception, a fundamentally wrong argument. The two have to go hand in hand. There are some obvious Do’s and Dont’s and we have to respect that,” he said.

The Prime Minister also urged the state government through which Ganga river flows to not “compromise” on any effort to clean the holy river. “We will request the banks to provide loans on low interest rates, but whatever effluent discharge mechanisms have to be set up must be set up, whatever sewage treatment plants have to be established must be established. Once we have succeeded in controlling pollution in the entire 2500-km stretch of this river, we would created such huge confidence in the country that we can protect our environment through our own methods. It would be a great model of environment protection in the country,” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today asked the Opposition not to spread rumours and lies on the amendments that the government proposes to bring in the existing land acquisition act. “Nowhere in the (proposed) law, not a single word in it mentions land belonging to forest-dwellers, or tribals, or forest land. But still a misleading campaign is being carried out. This might be a small thing for you (Opposition), it might be your political compulsion, but it is causing immense harm to the country,” he said.

The government, after failing get its Ordinance on the amendments to the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, ratified by the Parliament in the budget session, had to repromulgate the Ordinance. It will have to get the approval of the Parliament once it meets for a month on April 20.

“Everyone knows, the Land Acquisition Act does not apply to forest land, or tribal land. These are governed by their own separate laws. The Land Acquisition Act does not have any bearing on them. And still lies are being spread. I request you all to please stop this,” the Prime Minister said.

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