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Modi launches India's first air quality index

The index, initially in 10 major cities, will help track and reduce carbon emissions

BS Reporter/Agencies  |  New Delhi 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday launched a air quality index to monitor pollution level in 10 cities, the first of its kind in the country. Claiming that the world's perception of India’s “insensitivity” in addressing climate change and global warming was not correct, Modi said the country’s contribution to global pollution levels was one of the smallest.

He also urged Indians to change their lifestyle to help protect the environment. Modi, who was speaking at the inauguration of a two-day conference of state environment and forest ministers, expressed hope the conference would prove a good platform for discussions to formulate policies in this regard. “We are trying to think of ways of reducing carbon emissions but not about changing our lifestyle. Unless we bring a change in our lifestyle, we will not be able to save the environment," he said. Modi said that India was ready to take lead in environment protection but "people who lecture us on environment and the use of cleaner energy don't give us nuclear fuel".

"These are double standards," he said, adding that India has to take lead in thinking of ways to protect the environment.

"We must think of traditional methods to tackle environmental issues. There can be green solutions in our age-old traditions", he said.

The prime minister also sought to clear the 'wrong impression' of India that it was not serious on environmental issues, saying that the country had a culture in which the environment is equal to the divine.

"We have grown up in those traditions where nature is worshipped and where conserving nature is very important," he said, adding that we have no right to exploit nature.

"This is not a part of our culture," he said.

The prime minister also said that India was one of the most sensitive countries about nature. "Per person carbon emission in India is very low."

Modi urged urban bodies to focus on solid waste management with programmes to generate wealth from it.

"If we make fertilisers and send them to the villages, then good quality, affordable vegetables can come to the cities," he said.

He said that urban bodies could recycle waste water and send it to farmers, who in turn would make use of it and provide other services like growing organic vegetables, which would make life easier for all.

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First Published: Mon, April 06 2015. 13:26 IST