Union Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan on Monday took additional charge as Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change. Anil Madhav Dave, who had held the post earlier, passed away last Thursday following a massive cardiac arrest.

Vardhan had been Health Minister for five months in 2014, before he was replaced by JP Nadda.

While taking charge as Environment Minister today, Vardhan emphasised on ‘integrating environmental concerns into development policies and programmes and balancing the two for India’s sustained growth and progress’. He is taking dual charge at a time when the Ministry has been facing flak for diluting environmental norms in the name of ‘ease of doing business.’

The Minister also focused on an issue which has consistently kept India in focus — pollution. “Pollution, both of air and water, is a matter of concern for the whole country in general and Delhi-NCR in particular. It needs to be addressed on priority by the Ministry,” he said.