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BJP manifesto: Why shouldn’t social, environmental audit be compulsory for industry?, wonders top activist

By Our Representative
In a scathing critique, top Vadodara-based environmentalist Rohit Prajapati has said that the BJP’s manifesto has mentioned the word “environment” formally and casually at seven places (pages 2, 11, 29, 33, 34, 35, and 36), and the emphasis is on “decision-making on environment clearances” in a “time-bound” manner. The environmentalist believes, “The word ‘time-bound’ is clearly reflects that Modi’s main concerns is speedy clearance for the industries and not the environment.”
The manifesto 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.” Prajapati underlines, “This well spell-out assurance of Modi is to the industrialists that they should not worry about environment laws because he will remove all their hurdles so that just by filing some papers and giving some vague assurance they will get the clearance.”
Pointing out that this is the “Gujarat model of development”, which led Gujarat state to become “number one in pollution”, Prajapati says, to make things further crystal clear, the manifesto wants such steps to be taken “like removing red-tapism involved in approvals, to make it easy to do business, invest in logistics infrastructure, ensure power supply and undertake labour reforms, besides other steps to create a conducive environment for investors.”
Indicating that all these words basically suggest an effort “to mortgage the environment and labor laws”, Prajapati – who heads Paryavaran Suksha Samiti – quotes the manifesto as saying, “Performance review, social and environment audit would be mandated for all government schemes and programmes.” The environmentalist wonders, “Why shouldn’t social and environmental audit also be compulsory for the industries?”
Then, the manifesto talks of “sewage treatment plants to prevent the pollution of rivers.” Prajapati comments, this suggests it “is completely silent on the issues of river pollution by industrial effluent.” It says, “Cleaner fuels will be promoted so as to bring down the pollution levels particularly in the cities.” The environmentalist comments, Modi “is completely silent on the issue of air pollution by the industrial cluster in rural and urban areas.”
Prajapati underlines, “On the issue of river pollution there is only mention of river Ganga by completely sidelining the issue of number of severely polluted rivers of India, and specifically those 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 km you can witness reddish ground water.”
Referring to the word climate change, the environmentalist says, the manifesto speaks of “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.” He comments, “This clearly indicates the manifesto’s narrow understanding of climate change which completely ignores the impact of industrial pollutants on climate change.”
Prajapati says, “Same understanding is also reflected in Modi’s book on climate change which selectively presents information and data, 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.”
Prajapati recalls, “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. Modi’s book completely ignores the failure of all major ‘industrial effluent treatment facilities’ of Gujarat.”

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