New Delhi (Agency): The Congress party has strongly criticized Prime Minister Narendra Modi for what it sees as a disconnect between his global rhetoric and local actions concerning the environment. In a recent G20 Summit, PM Modi spoke on various environmental issues, earning the ire of Congress leaders who label his remarks as “sheer hypocrisy.”
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh pointed out that while Modi talks about environmental conservation, climate action, and equity at international forums, he is “comprehensively dismantling India’s environmental protections.” Ramesh particularly drew attention to the weakening of laws protecting vulnerable communities who rely on forests.
In 2014, during a chat with students, PM Modi had said, “The climate has not changed, we have changed.” Ramesh argues that the Prime Minister’s statements at the G20 Summit were “big, empty statements about the importance of the environment.”
The Congress leader claimed that the Biological Diversity (Amendment) Act of 2023 and the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Act of 2023 are detrimental to the environment and local communities. According to Ramesh, these amendments remove criminal offense provisions for biodiversity destruction and loosen the rules for forest clearance, thus endangering India’s forests and its dependent communities.
Ramesh also alleged that the Modi government used the COVID-19 pandemic as cover to pass 39 amendments to the Environment Protection Act. These amendments, he says, relax pollution control measures and lower penalties for environmental violations.
Further, the Congress leader stated that the National Commission on Scheduled Tribes had raised objections to these actions as far back as 2022. States like Mizoram and Nagaland have even opposed these acts, highlighting the deep concerns shared by various communities.
Critics argue that such policies will have dire consequences for India’s environment and for communities who depend on natural resources. They believe these changes are paving the way for “crony capitalists” to exploit India’s natural resources.
Congress asserts that this contradiction between the Prime Minister’s international statements and national actions reflects a troubling trend. They claim that the government is compromising the well-being of its own citizens and the health of the planet for short-term gains.