Political parties flayed for ignoring environment



Taking a dig at the political parties for ignoring the green agenda, environmentalists and activists on Saturday said MPs from West Bengal asked only 197 environment related questions in Parliament in the last five years, not even one each in every year on an average.

"In the past five years, MPs from West Bengal asked just 197 environment-related questions. Had they asked one each in every year, the total could have been higher," said Naba Dutta, Secretary, Sabuj Manch, a network of organisations and people fighting for the green cause. 

According to Dutta, 17 MPs did not ask even a single question in the 16th Lok Sabha, despite many of them representing areas of high environmental or climate impacts. Political parties' response to environment issues were inadequate, Dutta added.

A regular engagement before and after elections with political parties, be it parties in power or opposition, were required, he said. 

Activists also alleged the critical environmental issues did not figure in the political campaigns despite rampant air pollution, river degradation, garbage dumping, noise pollution wetland filling, tree felling. 

According to them, manifestos released, so far, have largely "limited reference to environment, which is an antithesis to global politics". 

Environmentalist S.M. Ghosh said poll manifestos should be binding legally to make the political parties accountable. 

Urging parties to treat environment as "non-negotiable" issue in social-economic development process, state BJP leader Ambuj Mohanty said "political pollution" has caused violation of environment protection laws in the country.

More measures were yet to be taken up for cleaning up the Ganges, he admitted. 

Ghosh also accused the Congress of ignorance about environment despite ruling the country for years. "The Congress has not taken adequate measures to revive the holy river," he said. 

Trinamool Congress leader and West Bengal Minister Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay said the state government had been making initiatives, including afforestation, promoting clean energy and green transport. 

State Congress leader Om Prakash Mishra said his party has promised to double the budget for cleaning rivers and set up a transparent and strong environment protection agency, while CPI(M) leader Sridip Bhattachrya sought strengthening project clearance mechanism and revival of agriculture. - IANS