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Poverty is the biggest challenge for environment: PM

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New Delhi: Asserting India’s stand in tackling climate change, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said same set of rules cannot be applied to all countries “uniformly” even as he identified poverty as the biggest challenge for environment.

Modi said sometimes the concern for environment was defined “narrowly” while making a strong pitch for “climate justice”, addressing a conference on sustainable development which was attended by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur among others.

Suggesting a balanced approach in combating climate change, he said every country has its own challenges and ways to dealing with them and “If we apply the same set of rules for all countries and for all people, it will not work.”

Noting that a path becomes sustainable, if all stakeholders are benefited, he also added a word of caution saying the stake should be natural and inherent and it “cannot be stretched to include those who may be working with ulterior motives.”

India has been maintaining that the developed countries have been historical polluters and they should contribute more to address the problem of climate change.

“The rule of law dictates that no one can be punished for another’s misdeed. We need to recognise that there are many people who are least responsible for the problem of climate change. They are also the people who still wait for access to modern amenities,” the Prime Minister said.

He said the poor, vulnerable and marginalized groups have fewer resources to cope with climate disasters and that their present and future generations are also burdened by laws and agreements on environment.

“That is why I talk about Climate Justice. Moreover, the rules, laws, practices and principles of one country cannot be applied to another uniformly,” Modi said.

The Prime Minister also chose the occasion to highlight his government’s commitment towards poverty eradication and linked it with environment protection.

“I am sure all of us agree that poverty is the biggest challenge for environment. Therefore, eradication of poverty is one of the fundamental goals of my government. Guided by our core values, we are working towards achieving this goal with sincerity. We want to ensure a conducive environment for 1.25 billion Indians to develop, and prosper,” he said.

Speaking at the event, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said judiciary, legislative and executive must respect each other, see each other’s restraint and concerns as he talked about the gap between India’s population and natural resources available for development.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley pitched for achieving balance between developmental needs and environmental concerns to reconcile the contradictions between “ideal ecology and ideal economy”.

PTI

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