“Why The Fuss?” Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar On Razing Trees For PM’s Rally
Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar on October 16 blatantly defended the cutting of trees for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election rally at a college in Pune, Maharashtra.
PM Narendra Modi will address a rally at Sir Parshuram College in Pune on October 17 ahead of the state assembly election.
Responding to journalists on felling down of trees, the minister said, “Why is there so much fuss about cutting of trees for PM Modi’s rally?”
The minister also said that trees were razed for rallies of the previous prime ministers and asked, “I wonder why there was no such awareness previously.”
The minister’s remark came a day after the opposition parties protested about the cutting down of 16 trees in the campus of the Pune college.
Javadekar defended the felling of trees by saying that more trees will be planted. “Every time we cut trees, we plant more. It is a rule of the forest department,” Javadekar added.
The environment minister’s comment also comes in the backdrop of BMC cutting down more than 2000 trees in Aarey colony, Mumbai.
The BJP led Maharashtra government gave a nod to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to cut down trees for the Metro project. Both the state and Centre government received a massive backlash from citizens and activists for razing down the trees. The issue became so massive that the Supreme Court had to intervene.
The BJP led government between 2015 and 2019, permitted the felling of more than one crore trees for development purpose.
In July this year, MoS for Environment Babul Supriyo said the ministry permitted to cut 1.09 crore trees for development purposes between 2014 and 2019.
The highest number of trees (26.91 lakh) were chopped between 2018 -19. According to the ministry data, it gave a nod to cut 23.3 lakh trees in 2014-15, 16.9 lakh in 2015-16, 17.01 lakh in 2016-17 and 25.5 lakh in 2017-18.
Govt’s Plan To Compensate Deforestation
Under The Green India Mission, the central government has released a total of Rs 237.07 crore in the last four years to 12 states for afforestation in 87113.86 hectare land area and providing alternative energy devices to 56,319 households.
Under the National Afforestation Programme, the government has released an amount of Rs 328.90 crore in the last four years to treat a new area of 94,828 hectares.
The Green India Mission, launched in 2015, aims to increase forest cover by 5 million hectares to achieve annual sequestration of 50-60 million tonnes of carbon annual by 2020. However, according to a Parliamentary committee report, the funds allocated for the project is “grossly underfunded”.
The report titled, ‘Performance of the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) said that the budget allocation of Rs 47.80 cr for the financial year 2017 -2018 was insufficient compared to previous years.
The Logical Indian Take
At a time where the entire world has come together, hand-in-hand, trying to save the environment, a comment such as this from the environment minister of the largest democracy in the world is concerning the Indian citizens as it highlights the callousness of the government in protecting the forest cover. The comment left the citizens worried and agitated as in future the government might give a nod to further chopping of trees. While India is doing exceptionally well in generating renewable energy in the recent past, chopping down trees rampantly for the sake of infrastructure project, contradicts the government aim of saving the environment at any cost.