March 26, 2017

Speaking at World Conference on Environment-2017, New Delhi

Foreign dignitaries, diplomats, environmentalists, lawyers, all those young students right there at the back, ladies and gentlemen, I am carrying this mobile not because I am going to show you any of my apps, just to make sure I stick to my 7 minutes allotted to me. And my time starts now.

In some sense, it’s very appropriate that Justice Swatantra Kumarji regularly holds these discussions to come up with newer ideas and bring back the focus of all of us on this very sensitive and important subject. In fact, the other day, I heard someone say, imagine if trees gave off WiFi signals, how many trees we would have planted by now on this earth? Probably, we wouldn’t need to save the planet, that itself would have changed the way the world works. Too bad, they only produce oxygen which helps us breathe and live. But truly, we are living on this planet today as if we have another planet to go to later. And it’s time that the entire world recognizes that climate change, which is caused ultimately by humans, needs to be addressed and it’s only we humans who can address this challenge. Environmental pollution, degradation of natural resources ultimately cost society and the largest cost to society is caused to the poor of the country, to the vulnerable sections of society, lost incomes, ill health.

And, therefore, it’s very imperative, we as a nation conspire together to do something about this. In fact, it’s very appropriate that we executed the Paris Agreement on Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary. Mahatma Gandhi, in fact, in 1911, had used the phrase ‘Economy of Nature’, and it brought out the deep sensitivity and understanding that Mahatma Gandhi had on this subject. He understood that we need to balance nature’s supply and the demand of human existence. He had once said, ‘earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need but not every man’s greed.’ And I think that summarizes what conservation of nature, what sensitivity towards a better environment should mean to all of us.

In fact, in this government, over the last three years, we have tried to take a 360 degree holistic approach to matters of energy, to matters of environment and balancing the needs of energy on a growing economy with the commitment that this nation has to protect and save the environment and leave behind for the next generation a better world to live in, a better planet to be in. Because as Justice Swatantra Kumarji also often says, after all, we are all trustees on this planet, we have inherited this earth as trustees to leave behind for the next generation a better place to live in than the one we have inherited. We have tried to focus on energy conservation; a simple programme like the LED project where we are replacing all the lighting load of the country with LEDs will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80 million tonnes annually. While, of course, it’s economically a very prudent project. It saves the consumers Rs 40,000 crore in their electricity bills annually.

Similarly, when it comes to our energy generation, we are trying to move from a highly thermal power generation dependent economy more and more towards renewable energy. Our solar power programme, for example, has been scaled up from a 20 GW target by 2022 to a 100 GW target by 2022, and put together all the renewable energy sources along with the large hydro, which we still don’t categorize as renewable energy, India will have 225 GW of renewable and clean energy sources by 2022, not just a target but a target on which we are relentlessly working, pursuing religiously to achieve. And I can assure all the distinguished ladies and gentlemen here that all the commitments and contributions we promised at Paris will not only be met but will certainly be exceeded by this government, by the people of India, by the efforts of all of us in this room put together.

There are different plans on the mining sector to make mining more efficient and improve the environmental concerns of the areas where mines are producing. We are looking to process every litre of water that comes out of these mines so that we can provide clean drinking water to all the villages in those areas, so that we can rejuvenate our rivers with clean water, and also all the water discharged in the ground also is processed so that our soil quality does not get affected.

In the thermal power generating plants, we have mandated that if there is any waste water processing in a 50-degree radius around a thermal plant, they will compulsorily have to use the recycled waste water in the thermal generation so that the clean water can be available to serve the people of the cities of the towns in and around the thermal plants. And we have mandated that every bit of waste that is processed and electricity is generated will compulsorily be purchased by the state DISCOMs so that waste, which is a serious problem in the country, large amounts of food waste, large amounts of other waste that is generated in the country gets processed rather than going only to the landfills.

Before I conclude, I would like to share with you a passion that Prime Minister Modi has to convert our vehicles into electric vehicles in the country. All the honorable Judges, particularly, Justice Swatantra Kumarji has been very very concerned about huge element of pollution of our cities, particularly, due to vehicles because of use of petrol and diesel vehicles. The honorable Prime Minister has directed a group of senior Ministers to lead the initiative to convert and to make sure that come 2030, if not all, at least most of the vehicles that we use in this country are powered by electricity and the potential of moving all our vehicles into electric vehicles, ladies and gentlemen, is to reduce the consumption of petrol and diesel by about a $100 billion every year, saving us precious foreign exchange, saving us from dependence on import of petroleum products, and also reducing the pollution of our cities literally by 80 or 90% through conversion into electric vehicles.

In fact, one study Justice that we did showed that we can power the entire vehicular traffic, entire vehicles of this country in 2030, by using only 1% of the land area of Rajasthan, not also of the whole country, 1% of the land of Rajasthan if it generates solar power, can power all the vehicles of this country. And we are committed to try and make that programme, expand that programme rapidly across the country and serve the people in a manner which makes India proud. And India does not necessarily follow what the world does, but the world follows the lead that India takes.

In conclusion, may I quote from Steve Jobs when he said, ‘let’s go and invent tomorrow instead of worrying about what happened yesterday.’

Thank you very much.

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