At a time when environment clearance procedures are blamed for delaying infrastructure projects, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said protection of the environment and promoting development need not be a zero-sum game.
He pitched for transparent regulatory regimes so that both could be pursued in tandem.
Inaugurating the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS), organised by The Energy and Resources Institute here, Singh said: “What is required is regulatory regimes that are transparent, accountable and subject to oversight and monitoring.”
Singh, who also heads the Cabinet Committee on Investment, set up to fast-track clearances to mega infrastructure projects, added: “Indeed, regulatory regimes are often the basic necessary condition to ensure that environmental and economic objectives are pursued in tandem.”
The debate over environment protection and development assumed centerstage earlier this year, with GMR Infrastructure pulling out of a road project, blaming the environment ministry for delays in granting clearances.
Addressing the summit theme, ‘The Global Challenge of Resource-Efficient Growth and Development’, the prime minister hailed the industrialised world for adopting a second commitment period till 2020 under the Kyoto Protocol for reduction in emissions. He said: “Real progress cannot be achieved if developed countries are not willing to enhance their ambition levels.”
Adding: “For its part, our country is committed to meeting its domestic mitigation goal of reducing the emissions intensity of our GDP (gross domestic product) by 20-25 per cent by year 2020, compared with 2005 levels.”
Singh said success in sustainable development was also dependent on the degree of use of innovative mechanisms. He asked policymakers and scientists to provide adequate attention to the importance and economic value of ecosystem services in development strategies and policies, particularly while addressing the needs of the vulnerable and poor and marginalised communities.
“Concepts like Green National Accounting are useful tools could help us ensure that goods and services are produced with minimal ecological and social impact,” the prime minister said.
Singh also urged private sector participation in India’s renewable energy sector. “We invite our international partners to work with us to exploit the tremendous potential of renewable energy technologies in our country.”