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Environment: Clear the air on green clearances

 The new government needs to bring in second-generation reforms for environment which can strike a balance between the need for economic development and rights of a local community. This is a tough job, but necessary. At present, green issues are being handled both at the central and state levels. This needs to be streamlined. The top priorities for the environment ministry are: Set up a `national environmental regulator' that carries out appraisal of projects and provide clearances in a transparent and time-bound manner. Government is bound by a Supreme Court order to set up such a national regulator.

 

The target of increasing forest cover from 21% to 33% of the geographical area must be met under the 'Green India Mission'. The level of air pollution in cities is alarming. Measures like reducing consumption of fossil fuels, monitoring vehicular pollution and improving public transport are essential. Build sewage treatment plants across the country to deal with river and groundwater pollution. 'Waste to Energy' concept must be popularized through incentives to private players. Bring strict effluent control laws in line with the 'polluter pays' principle and ensure rigor ous enforcement. Focus on renewable (solar and wind) energy through incentives and investment under a national energy policy which may reduce the dependence on fossil fuels. This will cut India's import bills as well as reduce air pollution.

Times of India, Delhi, Friday 23rd May 2014