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Environmental Concerns in Political Manifestos

Written By Gopal Krishna on Tuesday, April 07, 2009 | 4:56 AM

Excerpts of CPI ML Manifesto on Natural Resources & Environment

In spite of Vidarbha suicides being linked with the failure of seed MNC Monsanto’s Bt.cotton, the Indian Government has allowed Monsanto to conduct field trials of GM crops. Clearly the UPA Government is quite willing to risk our health and environment and sacrifice farmers’ lives in order to protect the interests of MNCs. The Manmohan regime’s Indo-US Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture has signed away India’s own independence in agricultural research.

The neoliberal policies pursued by the UPA Government and all manners of State
Governments have intensified this offensive on this most vulnerable section.
Movements of Dalits and adivasis for their right to land, forests and natural
resources like water face the most brutal repression: Kalinganagar and Chengara
are stark examples.

Ending agrarian crisis and peasant distress:
• India should walk out of the WTO-sponsored Agreement on Agriculture
• Punishment for corporations guilty of pesticide poisoning and recovery of
damages from them under the principle of “polluter pays”
• Thoroughgoing land reforms and lowering of land ceiling
• Subsidised agro inputs for small and medium farmers and regulation of prices
of all inputs
• Ban on forward/futures trading in agricultural produce
• Scrapping of SEZ Act
• No to forcible acquisition of agricultural land
• No to introduction of genetically modified (GM) crops without a rigorous and transparent scientific evaluation; immediate stop to all field trials of GM crops

• Guaranteed housing for rural and urban poor
Checks on Corporates and MNCs
Seeks details of money stashed by Indian corporates in Swiss banks and reclaim
the same, recovery of unpaid loans defaulted by big business houses
• Confiscation of assets and nationalisation of enterprises of fraudulent
corporations
• Reverse the trend of FDI relaxation and corporate penetration in retail,
insurance and other sectors, impose strict curbs on foreign capital
• No to sops, subsidies, tax waivers etc. for corporates
• Ensure safe drinking water and sanitation for all
• Scrap Indo-US Nuclear Deal and long-term Defence Agreement with USA
• Full right on land, water and forest resources
• Full implementation of PESA provisions in areas with sizable tribal
populations
• Full protection of tribal rights in 5th and 6th Schedule areas

Excerpts of CPI M Manifesto on Water Resources & Environment

• Making the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) process transparent, accountable and independent of vested interests; Reviewing the EIA Notification, 2009

• Undertaking steps to control emission of greenhouse gases through energy efficient technologies and effective regulation; Promoting solar and other non-conventional energy sources

• Increasing central allocations for Natural Calamity Relief Fund; States to
have more powers in tackling natural calamities and disasters

• Checking pollution of rivers and other water bodies through effective regulation

• Implementing the Coastal Zone Regulation Act and the Wetlands Regulatory Authority in ways as to promote long-term interests of the people and of the environment

Water Resources

• A National Water Policy to be formulated to enhance water availability for domestic use, irrigation and industry; Provision of potable drinking water to all habitations to be accorded priority

• Curbing privatization and commercialization of water resources; Tackling depletion of ground water through greater regulation

Excerpts of Congress manifesto on Environment & Ganga Basin

•We will protect India’s natural environment and take steps to rejuvenate it

The Indian National Congress has declared the sacred Ganga as a
“national river”. The Ganga River Basin Authority has been established
with the Prime Minister at its head for ensuring that development
needs are met in an ecologically sustainable manner. This Authority
will be accorded the highest priority. Water security is of paramount
concern to the Indian National Congress and steps will be taken to
enhance it measurably for local communities.

India has an enormously rich biodiversity that is under threat on
account of various reasons. The Indian National Congress commits
itself to strengthening people’s movements whose objective will be to
protect and preserve our bio-resources and ensure their sustainable
use.

Climate change has now emerged as a serious challenge for the world
community. India too has begun to feel its impact in different ways.
The Congress-led UPA government has already unveiled a National Action
Plan for Climate Change. It is an acknowledgment of our responsibility
to take credible actions within the overall framework of meeting the
development aspirations of our people for higher economic growth and a
higher standard of living. This action plan will be implemented in
letter and spirit.

Excerpts of BJP manifesto on Ganga, linking rivers & environment

Ganga occupies a special place in the Indian psyche. It is most
unfortunate that it has been thoroughly neglected even after India
attained freedom. It is a pity that even after six decades of
independence Ganga continues to be thoroughly polluted and is drying.
The BJP will ensure the cleanliness, purity and uninterrupted flow of
Ganga, and will take all measures, legal and administrative, in this
regard. Necessary financial and technical assistance will be provided
on priority. In addition, a massive ‘Clean Rivers Programme’ will be
launched across the country with the participation of voluntary
organisations.

Create irrigation facilities for an additional 35 million hectares of
land in five years: This will generate rural jobs as well as benefit
farmers. Drip irrigation will be promoted along with better water
management and use of check dams and Heavily invest funds in
agriculture to reverse the trend set by the Congress-led UPA and
make the farm sector an equal engine of growth along with industry and
the services sector.

Arrest the loss of jobs and reverse the trend of joblessness which is
far worse than unemployment by making massive public sector
investments in job-generating infrastructure programmes, especially
building of roads and highways, and linking of rivers.

The BJP will pursue national growth objectives through an ecologically
sustainable pathway that leads to mitigation of greenhouse gas
emissions. We recognise that containing global
warming is essential to protecting life and security of people and
environment. Mitigating the threat by building a low carbon economy is
the biggest economic opportunity of the 21st century.
The BJP endorses the principle of “common but differentiated
responsibilities”, as enshrined in the UN Framework Convention on
Climate Change. We look at ‘Climate Change’ in the context of the
promises made by the international community for technology transfer
and additional financing since Rio, which have remained unfulfilled.
The BJP will actively pursue the transfer of critical technologies
that can have a significant impact on reducing carbon emissions.
Bearing in mind concerns on environment and related climate change
issues, the BJP will:
1. Give appropriate importance to containing climate change.
2. Lay importance on energy security and sustainable energy pathways
by setting clear targets for energy efficiency and renewable energy.
3. Bring about a complete shift in subsidy from chemical fertilisers
to rewarding farmers for pursuing conservation and enhancement of
local crop varieties, thereby enhancing the conservation of local
agro-biodiversity.
4. Offer attractive support prices and incentives for traditional
rain-fed crops and promote markets for them. This will be coupled with
a decentralised Public Distribution System that will mop up excess
production of local food and distribute it among those households that
are food deficit locally. A decentralised PDS will be more climate
smart since it will eliminate excessive costs of transportation and
storage.
5. Revisit laws for protecting forests and reserve parks to make them
more effective in preventing encroachment and man-animal conflict. All
resources will be provided for protecting forestland and animal
reserves; wilful destruction of forests and killing of wildlife for
profit or pleasure will fetch stringent punishment.
6. A permanent Task Force will be set up for the protection and
preservation of tigers, lions and other wild cats. A separate Task
Force will look after the protection and preservation of elephants. A
third Task Force will look after bird sanctuaries. They will be duly
empowered to take whatever steps are necessary to achieve their goals.
7. Provide incentives to encourage institutions and individuals to
switch over to energysaving devices and eco-friendly designs for
housing and workplace. Full support will be given for developing
low-energy, low-cost technology by both public and private sectors.
A Group of Experts will be set up to formulate target-driven
objectives towards this end.
8. Encourage citizens’ participation in protecting the environment and
curbing pollution. Schools will be involved in promoting environment
and ecology-related issues among children.
9. Adopt a mission-mode approach to clean all rivers.
10. Launch a national programme for citizens’ participation in
reforestation, agro-forestry and social forestry by planting a billion
trees every year.
11. Importance given to programmes to arrest the melting of Himalayan
glaciers from which most major rivers in North India originate.
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