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Environmental volcano waiting to erupt: Parliament panel head

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New Delhi: An “environmental volcano” is waiting to erupt but the NDA government has not taken any significant action since it came to power, Congress MP Ashwani Kumar, who heads a parliamentary panel on environment, said on Saturday.

“The environment ministry has a huge responsibility consistent with its massive mandate to secure the future of India. I am sorry to point out that in the last 15 months, nothing new has been done to address the challenges that were known to the ministry,” Ashwani Kumar said at a press conference over the reports tabled by the committee.

“We (the committee) have said that whatever logistical difficulties of the ministry are there should be corrected. The ministry should be helped in discharging its mandate. But there is absolutely no excuse for inaction,” he told reporters.

“An environmental volcano is ready to erupt anytime… the environment ministry cannot escape responsibility,” he said.

The panel, which submitted 15 reports, has recommended formation of a new committee to consider afresh specific areas of environmental policy after it found the objections raised by experts on the proposals of a high-level committee constituted to review green laws as “valid”.

One of its reports said India has 13 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities, 76 of the 150 major rivers were polluted, and that 83 percent of the ground water was contaminated.

(IANS)

 

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Brazil’s President Bolsonaro Faces First Defeat in Congress

The defeat on the floor of the house came one day after Bolsonaro fired a senior minister amid a scandal.

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Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro arrives at the inauguration ceremony of the new president of the Parliamentary Front of Agriculture (FPA), at the Clube Naval, in Brasilia, Jan. 19, 2019. VOA

Brazil’s lower chamber handed right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro his first defeat in Congress on Tuesday, the day before his government presents its most important legislative proposal to rein in a gaping budget deficit and spur growth.

The house voted overwhelmingly to suspend an executive order by the Bolsonaro government that altered Brazil’s freedom of information law to broaden the number of officials allowed to designate data and documents as secret or ultra-secret.

Lawmakers voted 367 to 57 to fast-track a bill overturning the secrecy measure and government whips were unable to muster votes to avoid defeat.

The bill must still be voted on by the Senate, but the reversal showed that Bolsonaro, who took office on Jan. 1, has not yet been able to organize a coalition in Congress to back his legislative agenda.

On Wednesday, Bolsonaro will send to Congress his plan to overhaul Brazil’s generous and costly pension system that eats up more than half of federal spending and is the main factor behind an unsustainable budget deficit.

Brazil, Bolsonaro
FILE – Gustavo Bebianno in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sept. 29, 2018. VOA

Approval of pension reform is vital for the recovery of investor confidence in Latin America’s largest economy.

The defeat on the floor of the house came one day after Bolsonaro fired a senior minister amid a scandal involving campaign financing for some of his party’s congressional candidates in the October elections.

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The ousted minister, Gustavo Bebianno, was instrumental in getting Bolsonaro elected but had a run-in with one of the president’s sons, triggering the weeks-old government’s first cabinet crisis.

In a note to clients, analysts at Eurasia Group said the scandal indicated the administration’s political team was in disarray, but they still expected the pension reform to get passed, albeit in a less ambitious version. (VOA)