Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Environmental Concerns: A Backseat in BJP and Congress Manifestos

In the heat of election season, environmental concerns find themselves relegated to the sidelines in the manifestos of both the BJP and Congress. As the nation grapples with pressing issues like global warming, water scarcity, and wildlife conflicts, political priorities seem to overlook these critical challenges.
Environment relegated to final points in BJP's Sankalp Patra and Congress's Nyay Patra, signaling low priority.
Environment relegated to final points in BJP's Sankalp Patra and Congress's Nyay Patra, signaling low priority.

New Delhi- In recent years, environmental issues have become hot topics of discussion, from global warming to dwindling drinking water supplies and falling groundwater levels. Interestingly, even the sweltering heat caused by global warming seems to have influenced voter behaviour during the initial phases of elections.

Despite the significance of environmental concerns, it's somewhat surprising to find that major political parties have placed them as the last point in their manifestos.

The Congress manifesto outlines a commitment to building upon India's environmental legacy, acknowledging the pioneering efforts of past leaders such as Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's leadership, initiatives like the National Action Plan on Climate Change were conceived, representing significant strides in climate resilience.

Despite initial criticism from the BJP, subsequent recognition of the plan's importance followed. However, recent policy shifts have raised concerns about the weakening of crucial environmental protections, including those related to forest conservation, biodiversity preservation, and coastal zone regulation. In response, the Congress pledges to ensure affordable access to clean cooking fuel for all households, aiming to significantly increase LPG cylinder usage. Moreover, they advocate for an expanded approach to disaster management, encompassing the protection of not only human lives but also wildlife, livestock, and pets.

In contrast, the BJP adds a touch of Indianness to its narrative, advocating for the construction of a healthier society through a blend of traditional wisdom and modern technology. They also champion environmentally friendly lifestyles, putting a strong emphasis on recycling and e-waste management. Moreover, in line with the ethos of Panchamrit, the BJP has pledged to accelerate efforts toward achieving net-zero emissions by 2070 through the expansion of non-fossil energy capacities.

Meanwhile, the Congress party not only promises to increase allocations in the National Adaptation Fund but also aims to facilitate funding for a green transition. Their vision includes the establishment of a collaborative Green Transition Fund of India with state governments and the private sector to achieve the shared goal of net-zero emissions by 2070.

The BJP's manifesto outlines several key initiatives aimed at various aspects of environmental conservation and disaster management:

The BJP commits to implementing the National Quality Standard of the National Cleanliness Program across all areas. They also highlight a special focus on improving cleanliness in 60 cities by the year 2029. Building on the experience of Namami Gange, the manifesto also talks about phase wise improvement of health and cleanliness of all major Indian rivers.

Recognizing the devastating impact of natural disasters, the BJP pledges to create a disaster-resistant ecosystem through appropriate policies. They aim to significantly reduce damage caused by such events and adopt a holistic approach to disaster prevention, particularly in the vulnerable Himalayan states.

The BJP proposes a special program utilizing satellite imagery to support sustainable livelihoods, enhance security, and provide other essential services to the fishing community.

Addressing the issue of conflicts between humans and wildlife in forest areas, the BJP vows to collaborate with state governments and all stakeholders to sensitively reduce such conflicts. This initiative aims to promote harmonious coexistence between communities and wildlife while ensuring conservation efforts are effective.

Congress Manifesto: Environmental Stewardship and Disaster Resilience

In their manifesto, the Congress party lays out a comprehensive strategy to address environmental challenges and disaster management. They prioritize strengthening the National Clean Air Program to swiftly tackle air pollution, recognizing its immediate impact on public health.

Additionally, Congress expands the scope of disaster management efforts to encompass not only natural disasters but also factors like wildlife, livestock, and agricultural crops. They propose the formation of a high-level committee dedicated to studying landslides, implementing preventive measures, and ensuring civil safety.

Furthermore, Congress emphasizes the protection of coastal areas while preserving the livelihoods of fishermen and maintaining ecological balance.

Addressing the growing conflicts between humans and wildlife, Congress pledges to intervene with region-specific solutions, aiming to promote peaceful coexistence between communities and wildlife. Through these initiatives, Congress aims to prioritize environmental sustainability and ensure the well-being of both people and ecosystems.

Expressing dissatisfaction, wildlife experts lament the lack of prominence given to environmental issues in both the party manifestos. While the Congress manifesto acknowledges the increasing conflicts between humans and wildlife, experts argue that the statement lacks a clear vision and actionable strategies for addressing these complex challenges.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity in Udaipur, a wildlife expert criticizes the abstract nature of the statement, emphasizing the need for a more comprehensive understanding and targeted interventions to effectively tackle the growing human-wildlife conflicts. This critique underscores the importance of prioritizing environmental concerns and developing robust policies that address the intricate dynamics between human activities and wildlife conservation.

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