Sanjaya K. Mishra
Editorial Published on 25th December 2019
Year 2019 is quickly running out. The world is ecstatic to welcome the New Year 2020. Looking back, it was an encouraging year. India became one of the first countries in the world to develop and launch a comprehensive Cooling Action Plan, India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP). National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) was launched to tackle the problem of air pollution. NCAP targets 20 to 30% reduction of PM10 and PM2.5 concentration by 2024, compared to 2017.
Water Talk by National Water Mission, Green Good Deeds Campaign, the fight against single-use plastic, increase in tiger population addition in forest cover, and the release of White Paper on National Aviation Policy, to address major environmental challenges of the Indian aviation industry – are incredible. The National Green Tribunal’s Order dated 30th April 2019 pertaining to sewage disposal standards was a remarkable one. Jal Jeevan Mission was launched to ensure piped water supply to every household “Har Ghar Jal”. The formation of the new ministry, the Ministry of Jal Shakti (MoJS) was a significant move. The Jal Shakti Abhiyan, the time-bound mission for water conservation to enhance water security, especially in the water-stressed districts, created a huge impact across the nation. It has delivered over 5 Lakh local water conservation infrastructure in 256 districts. An estimated 370 Lakh people participated in the mission making it a people’s movement. About 123 million saplings were planted as afforestation intervention through this mission.
However, as the river water management, and clean up deals with the treatment of water pollution and wastewater management, a part of the Pollution Control Board could further be considered to be included in the MoJS. The format could be followed in the state as well, where the groundwater regulatory body and water pollution control body could be merged. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change may focus on emission control, air quality, soil quality-related subjects, alongside the environmental and forest clearances. Solid wastes, hazardous wastes, plastic wastes, e-wastes, battery wastes, bio-medical wastes, and construction and demolition (C&D) wastes are going to be major challenges in the forthcoming years. It has been observed by the National Green Tribunal and even the Supreme Court that the efficiency of municipal bodies have remained appalling in the solid waste, plastic waste, and C&D waste fronts. The structure of SPCBs can handle the subject.
Coming back to 2019, Activism was also phenomenal. From Delhi air pollution to Mumbai Aarey, to PLPA in Haryana and Talabira in Odisha. Also, there were numerous exemplary works in the field of waste management. Especially, some RWAs working towards zero waste and fight against Single-Use Plastic. The year 2020 will be another crucial year for the environment. The deadline to leapfrog from Bharat Stage-IV (BS-IV) to Bharat Stage-VI (BS-VI) emission norms by 1stApril 2020. This has created tremendous changes in the automotive market. India has embraced for faster adoption of electric vehicles and their manufacturing, with a goal to 30% electric vehicles by 2030. Many new job openings would come out for wastewater professionals to meet the 31st March 2020 deadline given by the NGT.
As time is running out, to attain a better environment, to restore forest, and nature so that people and wildlife can thrive. As it may take time to turn the ship around, we need to start now. Everybody – individuals, citizens, institutions, academicians, governments, judiciary, businesses, activists, NGOs, and media – together, we can step up in 2020 and take urgent action to protect and restore nature, before it’s too late.
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