India to have autonomous green police soon: Minister

June 5th, 2009 - 9:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Pratibha Patil New Delhi, June 5 (IANS) India will soon have an autonomous Environment Protection Authority (EPA) that will ensure industries comply with all the green laws of the country, Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh said here Friday, as his ministry had “no way to ensure strict compliance”.
“Not enough is being done to monitor environmental compliance,” Ramesh said at the eighth corporate awards ceremony of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).

In a hard-hitting message to the Indian industry, the new minister said: “There has been an impression that the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoE&F) has been delaying industrial clearances. Let me disabuse corporate India - we’re only implementing the laws of the land.

“Of course, they must be implemented in as transparent a manner as possible and we should see to it that it does not lead to delays, but I seriously contest the charge that we’re holding up progress. On the other hand, I think not enough is being done to monitor environmental compliance.

“Some have called EIA (environmental impact assessment, a mandatory requirement) anti-industry. I think it is anti-environment. We’re not fulfilling our environmental objectives.”

Ramesh said his ministry really had “no way to ensure strict compliance” with green laws, so the proposed EPA would do it “in a manner that is transparent and time-bound”.

The minister said he would go to parliament with the necessary legislation “within two months”, warning India Inc that “the time for a free ride is over” and the country would have a “fully empowered authority”.

Ramesh pointed out that the EPA in the US had a staff of 18,000 and an annual budget of $7 billion, whereas India’s Central Pollution Control Board had a staff of 150 and an annual budget of Rs.400 million.

“We’re going to get our EPA that is professionally staffed and fully funded. It’s going to be a professional, transparent, science-based regulatory system.

“This is my primary task and I have started on it already,” Ramesh said, adding that once the EPA was set up, his ministry would move to what it should be doing, making policy.

President Pratibha Patil, who gave away the awards at the function, called upon the industry to help clean India’s rivers and to focus on green research and development.

Welcoming everybody at the ceremony, TERI Director General Rajendra K. Pachauri said: “Each year, as we celebrate World Environment Day, things around us get worse.”

He warned that the “human footprint had crossed the earth’s carrying capacity in the early 1980s” and said “the time has now come for us to reverse and resuscitate the ecosystems.”

Pachauri said “merely to measure increase in GDP” was not the right way to measure growth, quoting Mahatma Gandhi to add: “Speed is irrelevant if you are going in the wrong direction.”

President Pratibha Patil gave the TERI corporate awards for environmental excellence to NHPC, Indian Farmers Fertilisers Cooperative, Orchid Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals, Aban Power and Ayurveda.

The awards for business response to HIV/AIDS went to Pepsico India and Tata Power.

GMR Infrastructure, Vikram Cement and Aditya Birla Group and Tata Refractories won the awards for corporate social responsibility.

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