Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing a conference of Environment and Forest Ministers of the states in New Delhi.
New Delhi: As he launched a National Air Quality Index on Monday morning at a two-day environment conference, Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused western countries of double standards saying, "People who lecture us on environment protection refuse to give us nuclear fuel for clean energy."
Here are 10 updates:
The index has been launched for 10 cities initially, including Delhi, which has recently been declared the world's most polluted capital by the World Health Organisation or WHO, bringing pressure on the government to act.
India, PM Modi said today, could take the lead in environment protection and combating climate change. "It should not be that we follow the world, follow the guidelines set by them... India can show the way to the world out of this crisis," he asserted.
The PM sought to clear the "wrong impression" that India does not care about the environment. He said the country "has a culture where nature is worshipped like God... We must think of traditional methods to tackle environmental issues. There can be green solutions in our age-old traditions."
PM Modi also said, "Some people feel environment and development are on opposite sides... This is wrong. Both can co-exist. There should be some dos and don'ts... There is a lot of misinformation."
The conference, being attended by state environment and forest ministers, is focused on simplifying green laws to facilitate ease of doing business and is seen as a final step in consulting states on making changes in six existing laws that govern environment and forest clearances.
The Modi government is keen to accelerate the pace of development with swift environment clearances. It also wants to dispel the impression that the Environment Ministry is a roadblock for projects because of long delays in granting permissions.
Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has said ease of doing business without compromising the environment will be discussed; the government says it wants to simplify processes and also ensure "strict" compliance with green norms.
To shorten time taken for comprehensive green clearances, the conference will discuss merging laws to ensure single-window clearances. Conservationists have attacked the government alleging that it is compromising crucial environment laws to ensure quicker approvals.
The government had constituted a high-level committee, headed by TSR Subramaniam, to review the environment laws and suggest changes to bring them in line with "current requirements". The committee's report will be discussed at the conference.
After the conference, the Environment Ministry will finalise its recommendations, prepare the Cabinet note and bring it before the Union Cabinet so that the bills as amended can be brought in the second half of the Parliament session, Mr Javadekar has said.