Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday ticked off the environment and forest ministry (MoEFCC) for poor progress in the elimination of single-use plastic while observing that the ministry has not pursued the cause seriously in the past two years. He also asked the railways to fix the responsibility of people for delay in the completion of Sivok-Rangpo rail line in Sikkim and West Bengal even 11 years after it was sanctioned.
While chairing the monthly review of key projects and programmes on the PRAGATI platform, Modi asked the MoEFCC to involve NCC, NSS and other youth organisations to create more awareness about eliminating single-use plastic. “The PM said if enough steps had been taken in the past two years, the situation would have been different by now after he went through a presentation highlighting which all states have notified norms banning such items and the timeline to achieve the goal,” said an official.
India had, on the occasion of World Environment day in 2018, had voluntarily pledged to eliminate single-use plastics by 2022 — coinciding with 75 years of independence. Modi had said this could be achieved through people’s participation through awareness and behavioural change.
TOI has learnt that the MoEFCC told the PM that the final draft on the definition of “single-use plastic” and the exact timeline to eliminate these hazardous materials will be out in the next few days. A source said the PM sarcastically made an observation saying that the MoEFCC was good at stopping something from happening, which was a message for all departments.
Sources said while reviewing two rail projects PM asked the ministry to identify the officers responsible for the delays and make them accountable. The PM’s remark came when he was reviewing the 45 km rail line connecting Sivok with rangpo. The project was sanctioned in 2008-09. While 41.5 km of this line falls in West Bengal, the rest 3.4 kms falls in Sikkim.
Even during the last PRAGAT meeting in January, the PM had asked the Central and state government departments to assign and fix responsibilities of all agencies and officers for works while expressing concern over the delay in completion of infrastructure projects since these cause “national loss”, which TOI had first reported on January 29.