ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE
Congress was the first Indian political party to acknowledge the consequences of Climate Change (Smt. Indira Gandhi in Stockholm on 14 June 1972).
It is a bitter truth that India’s environment has deteriorated. The 2018 Global Environmental Performance Index placed India at rank 177 out of 180 countries. The BJP Government has done virtually nothing in the last 5 years to arrest this decline.
- Congress promises an action agenda that will place India at the forefront of the battle against global warming and for the protection of the environment. At the same time, Congress will defend and advance India’s interests in international negotiations on Climate Change and the Environment.
- We will constitute, by law, an independent, empowered and transparent Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to establish, monitor and enforce environmental standards and regulations. The EPA will replace all other bodies that currently exercise jurisdiction and powers.
- Congress recognises that air pollution is a national public health emergency. We will significantly strengthen the National Clean Air Programme in order to urgently tackle the problem of pollution. All major sources of emission will be targetted, mitigated and reduced to acceptable levels. Sectoral emission standards will be set.
- We will formulate a comprehensive land and water use policy and plan that will include measures for the conservation of ecosystems and the bio-diversity and wildlife contained therein, without affecting the legitimate rights of local communities.
- We will work closely with the State Governments concerned to preserve the rich bio-diversity of the Himalayan range and the Western Ghats. However, the livelihood opportunities of the people living in these mountains will be protected.
- Congress will join hands with State Governments to stop, fully and finally, the discharge of effluents into the rivers and to clean all the rivers of India.
- Congress promises to protect the coastal zones of the country. Recent steps that diluted the coastal zone regulations will be reversed. The coast will be preserved without affecting the livelihood opportunities of fishing communities.
- We will impose a complete ban on the import of all types of waste.
- We will allow the import of sand for construction and stop the illegal mining of sand in riverbanks.
- We will implement a solid waste management plan in every habitation, village, town and city employing modern technology and machinery. Those engaged in waste management and disposal will be assured appropriate equipment, dignity and safe working conditions.
- Congress will confer legal and financial powers upon Panchayats and Municipalities to enable them to partner with State Governments in environment protection and management and to convert the total effort into a grassroots movement involving youth, women, communities and NGOs.
- Congress promises to amend laws governing forests, re-define the role of the Forest Departments and make local communities the custodians of forests and shareholders of forest resources.
- We will work with State Governments to increase the forest cover from the current level of 21 per cent to 25 per cent by the year 2025 and, towards that goal, take the following steps:
- Re-define the words and phrase ‘forest’ and ‘forest cover’ in accordance with modern scientific standards;
- Assess the exact forest cover at the district level;
- Involve local communities in afforestation projects and the selection of species of plants; and
- Prohibit and penalise the diversion of funds for forest conservation and afforestation.
- Congress promises to preserve wildlife habitats and manage and minimise human –wildlife conflict and award compensation for the loss of human lives.
- We will promote the welfare of animals and severely penalise cruelty to animals.
- Congress promises to provide clean cooking fuels at affordable prices to all the households of the country. We will monitor the price of LPG cylinders and mitigate through subsidies the burden of price increases on the homemaker.
- We will present the national accounts in a form that will account for the costs of environmental degradation and damage. The Annual Budget will adopt the core principles of Green Budgeting.
- Congress will endeavour to make India a green manufacturing hub. We will reduce tariffs and lift trade barriers for clean technology and provide incentives for the adoption of such technologies.