More than 2,000 environmental approvals have been granted in the past two years, environment minister Prakash Javadekar said on Monday. Faster approval of environmental clearances was another major achievement, he said. All this would unlock an investment of Rs 10 lakh crore and create a million jobs, he added.
Strict compliance with environmental laws, use of technology for reducing air pollution, and capacity building of municipal bodies would be among the top focus areas for the environment ministry for the next three years, he said.
Javadekar listed the increase in forest cover, better monitoring of industrial pollution, and the global climate conference in Paris as major achievements of his ministry in the past two years.
While the current forest cover is about 21 per cent, the minister said the target is 33 per cent, which will be possible only by increasing the tree cover outside the forest area. With regard to industrial pollution, the ministry had issued directions to 150 grossly polluting industries.
The minister said the government had managed to reduce industrial pollution in river Ganga by 35 per cent through strict implementation of norms for critically polluting industries near the river. "There are 764 industries which were polluting the Ganga. Spent wash and black liquor, both major pollutants, have been banned. But, unfortunately 85 per cent of sewage in India does not get treated," he said.
On air pollution in Delhi, the minister said periodic meetings had been held with five neighboring states to implement short-term and long-term plans.
Javadekar supported the introduction of genetically modified crops, saying the government's job was to increase crop production and this could be achieved through science and technology.
"Our country's productivity is 50 per cent of the world's average in all crops and our job is to increase production. So, science and technology have to be promoted to achieve that. We will not stop the progress of science. So, we approved 18 proposals for free trials in the past two years, with considerations for safety," he said.