Maha Polls: BJP, Sena Omit Aarey, Air Pollution From Manifestos

The two parties have “paid no attention” to environmental concerns in their poll promise, said green activists.

2 min read
Image of Maharashtra map and Shiv Sena symbol (L) and BJP symbol (R) used for representational purposes. 

The Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena, allies fighting the Maharashtra Assembly polls, have steered clear of environmental issues in their respective manifestos.

While the state is battling several environmental concerns including air and coastal pollution, extreme flooding and drought in different parts of the state, loss of green zones like Aarey colony and mangroves for developmental projects, the two parties have “paid no attention” to them in their poll promise, said green activists in the state.

“While on the one hand our prime minister continues to make all the right statements on environment protection at national as well as international platforms, I am baffled to see his vision on a clean and healthy environment for India missing from Maharashtra’s vision.”
Bhagwan Kesbhat, Founder & Director of Waatavaran

“There cannot be an economy without ecology,” Kesbhat added.

The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party alliance, which released a joint manifesto on 8 October, promised environment conservation and sustainable development by specifically mentioning felling of trees in Aarey Colony, preventing encroachments on the banks of Mumbai’s Mithi River that leads to incessant flooding, while acknowledging the hazards of increasing air pollution.

Air Pollution Ignored By Ruling Coalition?

While air pollution is seen as an issue specific to Delhi, the crisis is “very much real” in Maharashtra as well, pointed out activists.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change’s National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) pointed that Maharashtra is the “most-polluted” with the state being home to 18 of 122 cities.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data has revealed that Nitrogen Dioxide levels are dangerously high in Pune, Badlapur, Ulhasnagar while PM 2.5 limits continuously exceed approved limits in Vidarbha, Nagpur, Akola, Amravati and Chandrapur.

In a recently released report on Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) by EPIC, if all the cities in Maharashtra met the World Health Organisation standards on Air Pollution, the average life expectancy will increase by three years.
However, a quick search of the BJP and Sena manifesto shows that the word ‘pollution’ does not find mention even once.

“Whilst growth is welcome, growth cannot take place at the expense of the health of our future generations. We need to protect them from the crisis of air pollution, and ensure that we all have access to clean air all year round and all over India.”
Debi Goenka, Executive Trustee of Conservation Action Trust

Maharashtra is going to polls on 21 October.

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