We did a similar exercise during the last general elections going through the manifestos of major political parties and here we are again. You can read the previous article that details the environmental issues in manifestos of political parties during general elections: 2014 here.
The BJP led NDA has been in power for five years since 2014 and while the country has taken rapid strides in the field of renewable energy, the air quality in Delhi has deteriorated constantly and has become un-breathable (whether you choose to believe it or not).
The government has however, for the first time in the history of independent India declared a sort of war on open defecation and constructed toilets for everybody. Only a leader like Narendra Modi could bring about this revolutionary change and even discussed this in his address from the Red Fort giving it supreme importance. While the Swachhta mission has taken roots, there are a lot of tasks that need to be accomplished moving ahead and this progress on sanitation must not be lost.
The International solar Alliance is perhaps the biggest achievement of the government in the international sphere and it is India that took lead in formulating this alliance and making it fruitful. India being a tropical country can benefit greatly from the solar alliance.
The 2019 manifesto of the BJP takes the solar story forward
and also focuses on the cleaning of river Ganga and talks about focussing on
102 most polluted cities.
The table below
presents the salient features of BJP promises on environment in 2019 in brief-
…view solar energy as an additional source of income for farmers
and will encourage solar farming
on a massive scale so as to enable the ‘Annadaata’(food provider) to
become ‘Urja-daata’ (energy
…e-rickshaw services, pedestrian and
cycling infrastructure for a seamless and smooth last mile
…National Clean Air Plan into a Mission and we will focus on 102 mostpolluted cities in the
…we will reduce the level of pollution in each of the mission cities by at least 35% over
the next five years.
We will ensure the Himalayan States are provided special financial
assistance in the form of a ‘Green
Bonus’ to facilitate the protection and promotion of forests in those
We are committed to ensure a clean and
uninterrupted flow of river Ganga from Gangotri to Ganga
Sagar. We will ensure that the sewerage infrastructure to deal with 100% of the waste water from theGanga towns is completed
and is functioning effectively, and take steps to
enhance the river flow.
The main opposition party Congress also has sections dealing
in detail with the environment.
The manifesto of the Congress party does not bring anything new to the table with regard to the environment sector. All promises made by the Congress actually exist in India in some form or the other. There is already a bill prohibiting manual scavenging, there is a law dealing with municipal solid waste management and a National Green Tribunal in addition to the CPCB and the SPCB in each state. The Congress party perhaps recognising a stronger body for dealing with enforcement of environment principles envisages the formation of an EPA.
I think this EPA part is a copy paste from the US EPA, a similar environment protection agency that exists in the United States. The earlier laws copied from the USA by the Congress such as the RTI and RTE did not function exactly in the manner in which they were conceptualized so it is anybody’s guess as to how effective this new body will be. We already have the MoEF&CC, the NGT, CPCB, and SPCB. Why not strengthen them instead of forming a new body?
“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.”
However, the Manmohan Singh government did not falter too
much on the environmental aspect. It did launch the 8 Climate Change Missions
including the National Solar Mission that has become so popular in India. It
also brought about the Forest Rights Act to provide rights to the marginalised
forest communities. It is another matter that it simply became an act to give
“pattas” rather than right the wrongs of generations that the poor, forest
dwelling communities have endured for long.
The table below lists the salient features of environment
promises of the Congress party for 2019:
…will convert the Ganga Action Plan into a
People’s Programme and implement the same
Congress will review and re-introduce the Nirmal
Bharat Abhiyan (NBA) to ensure universal access
to a clean, functioning toilet with water.
Congress promises to end the evil of manual
scavenging in 3 years. Every manual scavenger
will be rehabilitated, re-skilled, provided a job and
assured a life of dignity and safety.
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.
…will impose a complete ban on the import
of all types of waste
…will implement a solid waste management
plan in every habitation, village, town and city
employing modern technology and machinery.
Congress recognises the challenge of water scarcity
and promises to create a Ministry of Water to
bring all water-related activities and departments
under one authority.
…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
Congress promises to amend laws governing
forests, re-define the role of the Forest Departments and make local
custodians of forests and shareholders of
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.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPIM concentrates on agricultural and land issues. Below are the salient features from the 2019 manifesto of CPIM. The most important aspect being its promise to amend the Land Acquisition Act that (even though was amended) has not been implemented in letter and spirit throughout India.
Legislate the farmers’ right to sell their produce at an MSP which
at least, one and a half times of the total cost of inputs
Scrap the Nutrient Based Subsidy regime in fertilisers; repeal the
Act and introduce farmer-friendly seed legislation.
Reverse changes in the intellectual property regime that favour big
business; ensure strict regulation of private agricultural research
regard to protection of biodiversity.
Shun unequal Foreign Trade Agreements and all trade related
negotiations based on the principle of national economic sovereignty,
and subject it to Parliamentary scrutiny.
Prevent the encroachment and takeover of common lands like
pastures, community forests, scrublands, etc.
Amend the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land
Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013 to ensure its
universal application on all laws requiring land acquisition,
definition of public purpose, full and prior informed consent…
Checking pollution of rivers and other water bodies through effective
regulation and enforcement especially by strengthening Central and
State regulatory authorities.
Twelve LPG cylinders per year to be provided at subsidized rate with
no Aadhaar linkage.
Banning futures trade in agricultural commodities as recommended by
the Parliamentary Standing Committee.
Strengthening disclosure norms for private stocks of foodgrains held
in godowns and warehouses.
The Communist Party of India also has a section on
environment. Below are the salient features from the 2019 manifesto of CPI.
Building a national consensus on the linking of rivers.
Conservation of the forests, rivers and water bodies.
All encroachments on forests, riverbeds and water bodies by mining
mafia be removed.
Efforts must be made to mitigate the adverse effects of global
warming and climate change considering India is the 6th most vulnerable
country in the world as many reports suggests climate related economic losses
have increased alarmingly.
No imports of new Nuclear Reactors; cancellation of existing deals
with Westinghouse (US) and Areva (France)
So what are your thoughts about the manifestos of different
political parties? Given the fact that environment is such an important aspect,
we feel it should have been given more space but thankfully, all major
political parties have given it some thought. Something is better than