With the national elections in India on the cards in a few months, it’s a good time for NGOs and institutions in the environment-ecology space to get a Green Manifesto soon. More important than preparing the manifesto is to draw out a powerful strategy to maximize its reach. The civil society needs to build constant pressure on the elected and the bureaucracy to act with a sense of urgency.
India is showing leadership on climate change at the international level but seems to be lukewarm to the looming domestic crisis.
Here’s a primer by www.sustainabilitynext.in
- Reduce air pollution in Indian cities to acceptable levels on a war footing through integrated air quality management. Set targets and improve governance. There are technologies and money, why isn’t there a will to act on a mission mode? Air pollution kills more than many dreaded diseases in India today.
- Make dumping waste – especially industrial – into water bodies a non-bailable criminal offence with a minimum two year jail sentence. The law should apply to negligent officials as well
- Make builders and apartment owners culpable for allowing sewage into lakes with stringent punishment
- Establish Green Wardens in all cities. Empower them to levy fines on the spot but payable only digitally to ensure it does not become another source of corruption. This system seems to be working in Mumbai
- Make solid waste management units mandatory for all municipalities and corporations in India to come up within 2020. A good waste-to-wealth business model will take care of their viability
- Appoint Green Commissioners in each town or city and make them responsible for adhering to all pollution related deadlines
- Provide funds to local panchayats to revive water bodies. They can also pool their resources to revive and maintain tanks and lakes. A levy on water taken out of rivers for cities can help fund these.
- Follow Delhi model on pricing for electricity and water. This model include free for the first minimum usage and the price goes up depending on the use. This model ensures equity and viability at the same time. This model can be used not just in cities but also for agriculture farms. This will release at least 20% of the now wasted resources to common pool.
- Make use of plastic in road building mandatory – this will ensure disappearance of plastic from cities in no time.
- Make afforestation a major movement. The government already has huge funds under the Paris Accord of 2015 which are not being utilized. Done well, they have the potential to make significant impact on the livelihoods in rural areas as well improve air quality significantly. It also ensures jobs in for the landless and can help in reducing poverty
- Invest heavily on fast electric trains between cities – this will reduce the growth of diesel run vehicles which are major contributors to pollution. The construction and cement mafia are holding back growth of Indian railway. It needs to be dealt with strongly
- Create a green fund to promote entrepreneurship, say 25% of the 10,000 crore start-up fund
- The head of pollution control bodies should be appointed by a sitting high court jugde, leader of the opposition and the concerned minister with minimum fixed tenure of 3 years. This ensures their effectiveness. Now they are toothless. For smaller towns similar system can be followed.
- The toilet revolution needs to put in place a sustainable working model instead of focusing on only construction
- SEBI should make it mandatory for all listed companies to file Sustainability Reports to begin with and integrated reports in two years. So far only top 100 companies are required to file the report. This will bring in more discipline in resource utilization among companies.
- Popularize and support e-auction of most of the commodities including fruits and vegetables so that the farmers can get better and transparent prices
- Discourage growing water intensive crops like paddy and sugarcane in areas which water scarce region using innovative transition mechanism including funds
- Make crop and health insurance mandatory and widespread.
It’s not that the above list has anything new – versions of them already exist but we need to press to make them more robust and compliance friendly.
Readers are invited to add more suggestions to the list in the comments section.