The Maharashtra state unit of the Congress on Monday released a manifesto exclusively for the environment, in which it talks of steps that it will take to preserve the biodiversity and natural resources if it comes to power.
Preservation of rich biodiversity of western ghats, air pollution to be declared a public health emergency, comprehensive land and water use policy, ban on import of waste and stopping of discharge of effluents in the river are among the 18-point “environment manifesto” released by the party.
The party’s manifesto committee released the agenda with a “nothing at the cost of environment” tagline. It asked party workers to sensitise residents on environmental issues and reach out to solve their problems based on climate, water and ecology.
The committee claimed that it had consulted environmentalists and activists before coming out with the agenda. While releasing the manifesto, Sadhna Mahashabde, vice-chairman of the state Congress environment department, said: “River regulation zone, which was enforced in the state, was abruptly revoked by the current government. The key objective was to prevent encroachment along the rivers and floodplains. We will ensure that it is re-enforced and at least one major river in the city/state is revived.”
Hinting at the BJP-Shiv Sena pet project in Mumbai — the Rs 12,000-crore coastal road project running from Marine Drive to Kandivali — the Congress also promised that the coast will be preserved without affecting the livelihood of the fishing communities.
Following China’s footsteps, the party claimed that it will impose a complete ban on the import of all types of waste. The other promises included stopping illegal mining of sand, implementation of solid waste management plan, promoting waste segregation, making local communities custodians of forest and shareholders of forest resources and providing clean cooking fuel.
Last month, disappointed at the lack of political will and to get politicians act on issues related to the environment, green activists had formed a human chain at Nariman Point in Mumbai, demanding environmental issues be included in the poll manifestos.
Roshni Udyan, an architect and environmentalist, who was a part of preparing the manifesto, said: “Climate change is affecting our farmers the most. No one has yet calculated the economic impact of climate change on our farming and coastal communities. Thus, this manifesto is the need of this hour.”
“India’s environmental issues being taken up during the elections is a big step forward. The biggest challenge is finding water for the people and that cannot happen with ‘Made in India’ kind of gimmicks,” said Stalin D of Vanashakti, a Mumbai-based non-profit environmental NGO.