ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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How Environment-friendly Are Election Manifestos?

Even as India is hit by an environmental crisis, manifestos and policies are paying lip service to growth at all costs, including the cost of environmental damage.

As citizens go about the business of voting, environmental crises are looming. Odisha was battered by Cyclone Fani even as large parts of India face drought, and several Indian cities continue to top the charts for air pollution. Despite these lived realities within the traditional electoral issues of employment and growth, where does the environment fit in?

Stated to be aiding the march of “growth,” the incumbent National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has made a slew of legislative and policy changes, including changes in the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017, the National Waterways Act, 2016, notifications regarding environmental clearances (Menon and Kohli 2017), coastal regulations, and proposed changes in the national forest policy. These were broadly referred to as “mainstreaming” or decentralising environmental clearances for hastening growth. An analysis of these changes, as well as the election manifesto of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), uncovers an engineering and instrumental view of nature. This narrative, for instance, suggests that forests that are felled can easily be replaced, and coastal areas—despite their vulnerability to extreme events—should be densified and built upon. In many ways, this narrative pits vikas (development) as a noble and lofty goal in spite of what its blinkered pursuit may do to the environment. It also suggests that subsequent environmental damage can easily be repaired.

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Updated On : 22nd May, 2019

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