While the world continues to plunge deeper into the climate crisis, India refuses to take responsibility for its own carbon emmissions. To the world's detriment, India is removing climate protections.
Since 2014, Modi’s administration has taken measures to dilute India’s environmental regulations.
“In the last four years, not even a single legislative step has been taken by the Central Government to protect the environment,” environment lawyer Ritwick Dutta told HuffPost India.
”Every single law related to [the] environment is being diluted which will make urban areas unliveable” he added. In 2014, the High Level Committee (HLC) was set up to review and potentially amend India’s most important environmental laws. The amendments proposed by the government-selected committee significantly loosened the environmental acts. The report received backlash and was taken up by a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science & Technology, Environment & Forests, which did not agree with the HLC's recommendations.
“Some of the essential recommendations of the HLC have been doubted and would result in an unacceptable dilution of the existing legal and policy architecture established to protect our environment,” wrote the Parliamentary Committee in its report in 2015. The Parliamentary Committee questioned the legitimacy of the HLC as well.
India’s pattern of environmental harm has continued. HuffPost India reported that in 2018, the environment ministry issued notifications that building construction projects with a built-up area of 50,000 square meters and below does not require environment clearance anymore.
This announcement quickly received backlash with petitions filed by Aakash Vasishtha, the Secretary of Society for Protection of Environment and Biodiversity. The petition raised concerns about air and water pollution caused by the construction sector and cited supporting studies.
This past year, Modi claimed “time to talk is over, time to act now,” at the UN climate summit in New York. Perhaps it’s time to look inwards at his own policies on the environment and take appropriate action.