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.
The BJP was on Tuesday set to return to power in its southern bastion Karnataka as its candidates crossed the half-way mark in vote count, stunning and ousting the ruling Congress and leaving the JD-S at the third spot.
Noisy celebrations broke out in party offices in Bengaluru, New Delhi and across Karnataka as Bharatiya Janata Party nominees were on the victory lap in 118 of the 222 constituencies which voted on Saturday.
This was a dramatic jump from the 40 seats the BJP won five years ago.
The Congress, desperate to retain power in the state amid shrinking appeal nationally, suffered major blows and was ahead only in 62 seats, with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah trailing in both the constituencies he contested: Badami and Chamundeshwari.
The Congress leader was way behind G.T Deve Gowda of the Janata Dal-Secular in Chamundeshwari, Election Commission officials said. And after leading initially, Siddaramaiah fell behind B.R. Sriramulu of the BJP in Badami.
In contrast, the BJP’s Chief Ministerial face B.S. Yeddyurappa was ahead of his Congress rival by more than 11,000 votes in Shikaripura.
Energy Minister and Congress leader D.K. Shivakumar said that the numbers indicated that his party was on the way out after five years in power.
Any party or grouping will need 113 of the total 224 seats to secure a majority in the Assembly. Polling did not take place in two constituencies on Saturday.
The BJP was overjoyed. “We are in a jubilant mood because we have crossed the half-way mark. We are confident of winning,” spokesman S. Shantharam told IANS.
BJP activists and leaders celebrated noisily in both Bengaluru and New Delhi, waving party flags and shouting slogans hailing Prime Minister Narendra Modi, their main vote-getter, and party President Amit Shah.
There were also celebrations outside the residence of Yeddyurappa, who has been Chief Minister earlier too.
The Janata Dal-Secular of former Prime Minister H.D. Dewe Gowda, which has been expected to play the role of a kingmaker in the event of a hung Assembly, was leading in 40 seats — the same number it won five years ago.
As the vote count progressed, BJP leaders became assertive, saying they were confident of taking power again in Karnataka while Congress leaders began to speak about the possibility of an alliance with the JD-S.
BJP leader and Union Minister Sadanand Gowda said that there was no question of any alliance.
Union minister Prakash Javadekar, who is in charge of Karnataka, met BJP President Amit Shah in New Delhi.
Analysts said the BJP was leading in Lingayat dominated seats and the JD-S in Vokkaliga dominated areas.
Expectations of a BJP victory in Karnataka lifted the key Indian equity indices during the mid-morning trade session on Tuesday.