Won’t accept unjust carbon tax in civil aviation: Prakash Javadekar

Aesha Datta Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on January 20, 2018 Published on April 12, 2016

PRAKASH JAVADEKAR Minister of State for Environment, Forests and Climate Change

Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar says Centre will take a tough stand on ICAO move

Prakash Javadekar, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Environment, Forests and Climate Change, has been at the helm of a ministry that is controversial in the least.

Even as he heads to New York to sign one of the first truly global pacts on climate change, at home, his Ministry is fighting criticism on multiple fronts — not least among which are trials of genetically-modified (GM) crops and its new waste management plans.

In a conversation with BusinessLine, Javadekar said the Government would take a tough stand on unjust carbon taxation regime by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). Excerpts:

You have repeatedly asked for assurance on technology support and the $100-billion climate fund. Will you seek a firmer stance on the COP 21 Agreement when you sign it?

It is the agreement made in Paris that we will sign on and put our actions on, and show that India is leading with example.

In the Union Budget, India’s climate adaptation fund has been dubbed as insufficient. If required, will you increase it?

No, it isn’t too low. As and when the projects are ready, we have asked all States to prepare their adaptation plans. So, once their proposals come, money will not be a problem. But yes, if need be, we will consider increasing.

Why do you think the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s carbon taxation model needs to be re-visited? Will you take it up individually as well?

It is a bad move and unjust to the developing world. Our people have a right to fly too, and that would be jeopardised if such a regressive taxation is put in place unilaterally. As BASIC countries, we have opposed that and our stand will remain. We will take it up individually as well and ensure such regressive taxation doesn’t happen.

You released a flurry of waste management rules recently. What’s your take on criticism that India is legitimising hazardous waste imports?

Waste management rules are part of both our post-Paris action and our Clean India Green India mission. Cleaning of the Ganga is also a commitment under Ganga action, which is now flowing fast, and controlling industrial pollution is a major achievement.

And no, we are not allowing import of wastes, but allowing import of usable material with 7-8 years of life left. The life remaining in a machinery must be more than eight years.

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed your Ministry to share bio-safety data on GM crops. Is the ministry ready?

We will always observe all rules and regulations.

We will do whatever the law mandates. The irony in our country is that we import edible oil that is GM, Kelloggs and other corns that are GM, and many other crops that are GM for consumption.

BT brinjal and other crops allowed in Bangladesh are being brought into Bihar, Assam, and West Bengal where farmers have taken it up.

We have not allowed any GM crop, but farmers are bringing it in. We should not be in denial mode. We are very transparent; we can’t stop science from progressing.

Safety of trials is what is important and that is what we are ensuring. But even if we allow it, unless State governments give no-objection certificates, there will be no progress.

A large part of the country has drought-like conditions. In many of these places, water-intensive industries are operating. Are you taking action?

We have already taken it up, not because of drought, but because India has 17 per cent of the world’s population as well as 17 per cent of the world’s cattle population. But we have only 4 per cent of the world’s water resources.

Unless we conserve water, there will be scarcity everywhere. To that end, we are mandating industries to use less water. We have mandated distilleries and other industries, which use a lot of water, to implement ZLD (zero liquid discharge) technologies.

Industries realise that saving water saves money because every State is increasing the price of water.

You have said that you promote ease of doing ‘responsible’ business. Are you changing or adding any rules?

I am not going to give ease of doing business as usual, but give ease of responsible business, meaning one does environmental services and still produces more. There will be policy decisions, there will be smooth and transparent processes, and delays will be erased.

Our conditions for many industries are becoming stringent. We have come out with new norms for cement, thermal power and many other sectors. We will revise conditions for all other sectors, like we have done with the whole waste management regime.

Published on April 12, 2016
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