Major Initiatives as Minister of Environment & Forests
During his tenure as Cabinet Minister, Shri Suresh P. Prabhu’s major thrust areas included prevention and control of pollution, conservation of natural resources, regeneration and development, environment policy and law, environmental information and education, research and international co-operation. Brief of the various initiatives undertaken in these areas are outlined below:
Prevention and Control of Pollution, irrespective of its source has received top priority in the Ministry during his tenure. Several result oriented initiatives had, therefore, been undertaken in this regards.
Action Plan at National Level for Pollution Control
- Common Effluent Treatment Plants setup for treatment of industrial effluents
- Promotion of waste minimization techniques leading to reduction in ppllution at source
- Surveillance of Coastal water quality
- Strengthening of air quality monitoring networks
Environment Impact Assesment
Serious efforts were made to remove the deficiencies and procedural gaps in grant of EIA as per the Environment Protection Act, 1986. To ensure transparency in environment and Forest clearances, status of clearances and the reasons for which any case was pending was made avilable on the web site. Various changes in existing guidelines having impact on the industries were also made available.
Conservation of Natural Resources
The Ministry undertook series of measures to impart impetus to the task of protecting environment and conserving forests and wildlife.
Regeneration and Development
The National River Conservation Programme –
- A total of 56 detailed project reports were approved under the on going scheme of the Ganga Action Plan Phase-II and the National River Conservation Plan. A standing committee was formulated to expedite the same. Out of the 261 schemes of polluting abatement sanctioned under the Ganga Action Plan (GAP) Phase-I, 254 were completed
- Under the Yamuna Action Plan, 5 sewage treatment plants costing Rs 33 crores were complted.
- World Bank agreed to provide financial assistance for conservation and management of lakes and wetlands in Rajasthan and Punjab
- In January 1999, a NGO committee was constituted to improve the effectiveness of the Ganga Action Plan
- Project Advisory Committee was also constituted to advise on issues such as speedy implementation of the programme, proper operation and maintenance of assets, improving resource recovery from sewage treatment and enhancing public participation in the programme
The Environmental Research Programme aimed at developing strategies, technologies and methodologies such as better facility and infrastructure for research and training of manpower to undertake environmental research was launched. Under the dynamic leadership of Minister (E&F), research projects were funded in multidisciplinary aspects of environment and ecological protection, conservation and management at various universities, research and development institutions and reputed non-governmental organization of the country.
Environment Information and Education
The 25th ENVIS (Env.Int.System), has been set up at Delhi Centre for the Media Studies (CMS) w.e.f. February 1999.
The National Natural Resources Management System (NNRMS) scheme was launched with the prime objective of utilizing remote sensing technology along with the conventional methods to monitor natural resources and too attain sustainable development in the country. To implement the scheme, a standing committe on Bio-resources and Environment (SC-B) was constituted by the Planning Commission.
The first ever Assembly Meet for the GEF was hosted by India and the meeting was held from 1st to 3rd April, 1998 in New Delhi. Representatives from over 100 countries and numerous international organizations partiipated in the same. The 11th Meeting of GEF Council was also held in India from March 30 to March 31, 1998. A total of $142.38 million under the GEF has been earmarked for India
Environment Policy and Law
A comprehensive National Policy on Environment was prepared. Shri Suresh Prabhu convened several meetings where crucial decisions were taken. He also visited various cities in India and abroad to discuss issues related to the environment, forests and wildlife.