Even on a rain soaked holiday, environment minister Prakash Javadekar sat in his expansive bungalow clearing files. Amidst Mehdi Hassan Ghazals playing in the background, the green minister answered a number of questions ranging from politics to environment. Excerpts of the interview given to Richa Sharma:
Q: There has been grave concern about Delhi’s polluted air, what is environment ministry doing.
A: We have held three meeting with neighboring states of Delhi and by next week we will announce a comprehensive annual action plan of all agencies to tackle pollution in Delhi. This is for the time that an action plan has been prepared. In last eight year, Delhi’s air has become filthy and nobody neither Jairam Ramesh nor Jayanthi Natarajan ( former environment ministers) bothered to look into it, I took the initiative and brought all ministers, all agencies, corporations together. This is a great beginning and that is the difference that good governance brings in.
Q: Work done of the ground to check pollution?
A: Quality of air has improved in Delhi and we have banned stubble burning and even biomass burning has gone down. Dump burning will be curtailed in Delhi and in one month there will be an effective check. From October, you will see the results and change in Delhi’s air as the new construction waste rules will come into effect.
Q: Measures taken to check pollution caused by industries and other polluting sectors?
A: We have put in place a 24X7 monitoring mechanism and over 1000 industries have already installed sensor monitoring devices and we are mapping them every 5 minutes and a screen will put in my cabin showing realtime data.
Q: Steps taken to deal with problem of enforcement of existing laws?
A: We are also strengthening the state bodies as I want enforcement to be the main thrust of the ministry. How it can be done whether through ministry or state or through a regulator, enforcement is necessary. We are also introducing a bill to give civil penalties for any violation of environmental law.
Q: Environmental norms being flouted for project clearance?
I want to take decisions with environmental safeguard. We want to take decision as keeping decision pending is not service of environment and taking decision and keeping safeguard is the service to environment.
Q: Has Congress derailed reforms agenda of NDA government with continuing logjam in Parliament and pending key legislations like land bill, GST?
A: They are guilty of stalling the progress of the country and irresponsible behavior of Congress has created problem not only for NDA government but entire country. They are following what Rahul (Gandhi) is saying and Rahul’s way of doing things is what we have see when they were ruling, he tore the government decisions and put them into dustbin. That’s how he wants to do with all democratic decisions because he is not at all democratic.
Q: Isn’t BJP used same tactics when in Opposition to disrupt parliament?
A: It is emphatical no. The whole session was lost as we were demanding JPC and they didn’t budge and them in the next session very first day they made JPC (Join Parliamentary Committee). Resignation is not a reasonable demand, discussion is a reasonable demand. Here there is no case of JPC, here the minister herself (Sushma Swaraj on Lalit Modi) is ready for a statement. What is curious is that when they were in power they ran away from discussion and when in opposition they are again running away.
Q: What is the way forward and impact on government’s development agenda?
A: People of this country are wise enough, they have already punished Congress and they will punish further. This is not the way to deal in democracy, there is decency and minimum decency is the essence of democracy which they have lost.
Q: After one year honeymoon period for NDA government, things are getting difficult for government with no results on ground?
A: Momentum is on and economic growth momentum is on, the confidence of investors has gone up and now things are materialising on ground. So, if the first year we made progress with Swacch Bharat slogan, in second year we are working at implementation rules. We are appealing to Congress, don’t put spanner and spokes. After all we may be ruling one day or opposition in another day but our duty to country is eternal and we should not shy away from it.