National air quality index launched at environment ministers conference, discussion on green laws’ changes
GN Bureau | April 6, 2015
Prime minister Narendra Modi on Monday launched the National Air Quality Index, to monitor pollution levels in 10 major cities and inaugurated the two-day conference of state environment ministers in New Delhi.
The index will provide information on the quality of air in Delhi, Mumbai and eight other cities. Delhi's air pollution has been in focus in recent months, surpassing Beijing as the most polluted city in the world, with particulate matter 2.5 times the levels considered acceptable by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The national conference will discuss proposed changes in six environment laws and simplified processes to ensure "strict" compliance of green norms. The six environment-related laws are - the Environment (Protection) Act, Forest (Conservation) Act, Wildlife (Protection) Act, Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act and Indian Forest Act.
Meanwhile, Modi said that “we have to pay attention to our lifestyle, other wise the other steps we take to check pollution will not be fruitful.”
The prime minister said "the world is getting increasingly worried about the environment. The world thinks that India is not bothered about the environment. We have had a culture where environment has been equal to divine. We are the least in terms of carbon footprints."
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.
The first day of the conference today will have two sessions, on "Waste to Wealth" and "Ease of doing business and TSR report". There will be three break-out sessions on issues related to forest wildlife, pollution, bio-diversity and climate change.
After the conference, the ministry will finalise its recommendations, prepare the cabinet note on amendment to the bills so that they can be brought in the second half of the Parliament's budget session.
The government is trying to ensure ease of doing business by pushing for smoother environment approvals for industrial projects through a single-window clearance. As it pushes its agenda for economic growth, the Modi government is keen to dispel the impression that the environment ministry is a roadblock for projects.
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