AToday PM Narendra Modi launched air quality index.It is great initiative since till now air quality measurements were mainly confined to environmentalists,academicians and scientists.Finally a common man has a “air thermometer” by which he can know the health of air he is breathing.Probably national and regional newspapers will now carry such information along with max/min temperature,precipitation etc.

However this initiative will ameliorate environmental problems per se.This will essentially educate the masses and create pressure on policy makers to assure a healthy environment for all.Only time will tell how successful this step can be.I am saying this because at times political class succumb to pressure of lobby groups.Take for example recent withholding of Health ministry order specifying 85% coverage of cigarette packet with warning.Similarly Govt’s failure to create stricter norms for automobile sector.

NDA govt has been reiterating its commitment to environmental safety but recent relaxation of environmental rules sends opposite signals.Govt has been blamed for being pro-corporate and anti-poor.Indeed, many studies have shown that climate change hurts poor the most.

But I think the there is no dichotomous relation between environment and development.Both can go hand in hand provided we have unambiguous and transparent environmental regulation and its strict implementation.In this we will not only improve ease of doing business but also protect overexploitation on nature.Then we will achieve sustainable development in true sense.

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