Come 1st June 2014, the country will see either a new party taking over the reins of the country or the ruling party will make comeback with a more vitalized and rejuvenated policy. Whatever happens, the real action has already begun, with all major political parties declaring their election manifestos. A Manifesto is the public declaration of a political party which allow the voters an opportunity to understand the vision of the party in terms of intervention and policies thereby helping the voters to make an informed decision.
Every party is trying to lure the electorate by mentioning the developmental challenges they will address. I have highlighted my vision of an ideal environmental manifesto. At present India doesn’t require new policies and new laws to prevent environmental degradation. Efforts should focus on implementing the existing mandate. As an example, The Ganga Action Plan was launched with an estimated INR 240 Crore annual investment which has now gone up to INR 1498.86 crores which is inclusive of Yamuna Action Plan and the Gomti Action Plan. However, a walk at the bank of the river on either side reveals the reality of the so called ‘plans’. A counter argument, speaks of the puny amount invested in environment which comes to 1500 crore in a country where parties spend almost Rs 18000 crore on just campaigning. The reality however remains, whatever the amount, the desired result would be achieved if judiciously spent and monitored. In the end, efforts need to be reiterated on short, ensuring effective implementation of the already existing policies with an additional focus on stringent monitoring methods and incentivizing reporting.
- A common topic of discussion has been creating an alternate source base of energy to meet the needs of the “common man”. A look at the available technologies, one can conclude that a common Indian man continues to be left out even from the conventional sources. However, there have been talks about enhancing the outreach of solar energy and increasing the capacity of wind energy in the country. I believe this sounds good on paper, but we need to understand that both technologies have their pros and cons. A true cost benefit analysis of solar energy after factoring in social, economical and ecological factors reveals that it is an expensive option, especially if used in far flung regions. The use of wind mills as a source of energy has been an issue of debate in the global scenario due to the harm it causes to the avian fauna. I reckon, efforts need to focus on R&D and on increasing the capacity in terms of energy generation.
- On the issue of water conservation, many parties are working towards pricing and regulating the use through monitoring the usage levels. It is a good way to approach the issue. Subsidies have been announced out by the GOI which have been widely accepted by the masses. The need of the hour is to tap the power of subsidies judiciously. In terms of water, the system needs to question why a person who falls under the High Net-worth Individual category is given the same subsidy as a person who falls under the BPL category? In the end, the bottom line is that monetary regulation is good, but only if imposed with precision and thought.
- Environmental degradation and pollution, are two terms repeated by political leaders during their campaigns. I advocate for an increased understanding which explains what happens to the parties causing environmental degradation? The Polluter pays principle needs to start in India. However I am starting with a clean and green election campaign, so that the campaign trails that many journalists end up following are not “dirty” is an important thought to chew on.
- Climate Change, is the favorite word of anyone who claims to have an understanding of environmental science these days. The government had come out with the NAPCC in 2008, and the vision was clear; to invest in combating the effects of climate change. One of the aspects of the NAPCC was to invest in the creation of Biodiversity registers of biodiversity hotspots and other areas of ecological significance. In the end, the great ideas on the issue have been documented in a policy frame but the area of implementation continues to be challenge.
In the end, our country has seen a plethora of great leaders, thinkers and politicians. There are still many potential leaders who can and will lead the country into the developmental phase where we become a formidable economy. I believe, the key to that is a comprehensive, vision document i.e. manifesto. We are better informed about the developmental challenges and all we need is a receptive political environment.
Fiinovation – Environment Team