Reacting to the remarks made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Conference of Parties (COP28) Summit in Dubai that India is presenting an excellent example of balance between ecology and economy, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said that PM Modi follows the principle of 'Maximum global talk, minimum local walk'.
Jairam Ramesh further targeted PM Modi and said that the remarks made by the Prime Minister at the COP 28 event are another example of his trademark falsehoods.
"Maximum global talk, minimum local walk--is the principle followed by the Prime Minister. He has claimed in Dubai that India has "struck a great balance between ecology and economy." This is yet another of his trademark falsehoods," Jairam Ramesh said.
Pointing out that various environmental legislations have been weakened under PM Modi's 9 years of tenure, Jairam Ramesh said, "Forest Conservation Act, 1980 has been made completely hollow with a 2023 amendment. It does away with provisions for the consent of forest communities and with requirements for forest clearance in vast areas. It removes protections for 25 per cent of India's forest cover, in violation of the 1996 TN Godavarman Supreme Court order. It is paving the way for the Modi Government to exploit forests and hand them over to a select few chosen corporates."
He further said that the Forest Rights Act of 2006 has been weakened under the Modi government.
"A historic legislation protecting the traditional rights of Adivasis and forest-dwelling communities has been weakened with a 2022 notification. Forests can now be cleared without consulting those who live there, and consent from gram sabhas is no longer needed to use forest land," Congress communications chief said.
He also pointed out that The National Biodiversity Act, 2002 has been diluted to allow private companies easier access to forests without benefit-sharing with communities.
"It does away with any criminal offence provisions, allowing the PM's crony capitalist friends and others who destroy biodiversity to get away scot-free. The National Biodiversity Authority (NBA), formerly an independent body able to keep a check on the government, has been completely put under the control of the Environment Ministry," the Congress General Secretary said.
"When the entire world was dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Modi government passed 39 amendments to rules under the Environment Protection Act. Illegal and regressive changes were made to relax environmental protections -- pollution control measures were removed, penalties for violations were lowered, criminal prosecutions were stripped, and public notice requirements were waived," he added.
Jairam Ramesh also said that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) norms have been continuously weakened since 2020 and the recent Uttarkashi Tunnel incident occurred due to this.
"Timelines for hydro and mining project clearances have been arbitrarily extended, major project types have been removed from central government clearance, public hearings and participation have been skipped. In eco-sensitive areas like the Himalayan region, the Modi government has illegally bypassed the need for Environmental Impact Assessment by splitting large projects into small segments. The Silkyara tunnel disaster is only a symptom of the larger malaise," he said.
Earlier, PM Modi at his remarks at the opening ceremony of the High-level segment at the Conference of Parties (COP28) Summit said, "Today, India has presented an excellent example of the balance between ecology and economy before the world. Despite India being home to 17 per cent of the population of the world, its contribution to Global Carbon Emissions is less than 4 per cent."
"India is one of those few economies of the world that is on the path to meet NDC targets," he noted.
He noted that despite India being home to 17 per cent of the world's population, its contribution to global carbon emissions is less than 4 per cent.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh also said that the Modi government has made efforts to dilute the National Green Tribunal.
"Vacancies have been left open for years, reaching 70 per cent overall in 2018 and leading to the shutdown of the Chennai NGT bench. The Madras High Court had to step in in 2019 and instruct the Union Government to fill vacancies. Bureaucrats, rather than scientific experts, are being appointed to key posts." Ramesh said.
"Lastly, and most importantly, air pollution has turned into a grave public health crisis under the Modi government, becoming a major threat to life expectancy," he added.
Jairam Ramesh also said that air quality has worsened under PM Modi's tenure and his measures have been ineffective.
"The share of Indians exposed to PM2.5 above 100 has doubled, reversing improvements over the previous years. The Modi government has not only been ineffective in dealing with worsening air pollution across the country, but it relaxed norms for coal transportation and emissions scrubbing," Ramesh said.
"How can anyone take what the Prime Minister says globally on the environment seriously in light of his disastrous track record in India?" he asked.
Earlier the Prime Minister also expressed his gratitude to the participants of the COP28 summit for their "continuous support of issues like climate justice, Climate Finance and Green Credit raised by" him." For a sustainable future, we all together decided upon green development pacts. We also decided on the principles of the Lifestyle for the Environment (LiFE) initiative.
On a global level, India also showed commitment to triple renewable energy," PM Modi added. "India, also for the sake of alternative fuels, decided to give preference to the hydrogen sector," he added.
PM Modi further went on to say that India's goal is to bring down emissions intensity by 45 per cent by 2030.
"India's goal is to bring down emissions intensity by 45 per cent till 2030. We have decided to increase the share of non-fossil fuel to 50 per cent. We will also keep going ahead towards our goal of net zero by 2070," he said during his address.
Notably, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with other world leaders, gathered in Dubai for the COP28 World Climate Action meeting.
The World Climate Action Summit is the high-level segment of the 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
This will be PM Modi's third appearance at the World Climate Action Summit after his visits to Paris in 2015 and Glasgow in 2021.
On the opening day of COP28, the UAE backed a crucial decision to make the loss and damage fund for developing nations operational. The fund is aimed at giving financial assistance to countries recovering from climate disasters. It will also be used to deal with other climate-related emergencies. COP28 is being held from November 28-December 12 under the Presidency of the UAE in Dubai. (ANI)