Financial inclusion of the poor through bank accounts and pension for workers in the unorganized sector are among the biggest achievements of the Narendra Modi government in its first year in office, Environment and Forest Minister Prakash Javadekar has said.
In an interview, Javadekar said the government has taken significant initiatives towards good governance, transparency and cleanliness over the past year.
He dismissed the Congress’ criticism that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government had very little to showcase after one year in office.
“Everything that was a scam during the rule of Congress-led UPA, we have converted to a success story. This is a government with mission and without commission,” Javadekar said.
The National Democratic Alliance government will complete its first year in office on May 26 – after Modi led the BJP to its first full-majority in the Lok Sabha.
Javadekar said that the Congress “could have taken a transparent route to the allocation of coal blocks but it did not do so.”
He said that even the loss of Rs.1.86 lakh crore ($29 billion) mentioned in the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report on the allocations “was looking too small (now)”.
He said the auction of just 29 coal mines during NDA rule has already earned the exchequer about Rs.2 lakh crore.
Javadekar said allocation of 2G spectrum was “a big scam” during the UPA rule and “we converted it into success through the auction route”.
He said that revenue from auctioning spectrum under the BJP-led government was over Rs. 109,874 crore.
Asked about the biggest achievement of the Modi government, Javadekar said: “For the first time, unpensioned is pensioned and unbanked is banked.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Saturday launched three social sector schemes – Atal Pension Yojana (APY), Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY) and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY) to create a universal social security system for all Indians, specially the poor and the under-privileged.
The schemes are also aimed at encouraging workers in the unorganised sector to voluntarily save for their retirement.
Workers in the unorganised sector constitute 88 percent of the total labour force of 472.90 million, according to the 66th round of the NSSO Survey of 2011-12.
The government had last August launched the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) to increase financial inclusion of the poor. A total of 125.4 million accounts were opened under PMJDY till Jan 31 and the scheme holds the Guinness World Record for the most bank accounts opened in a week as part of financial inclusion.
Talking about his ministry’s initiatives, Javadekar said he had changed the “road block, negative, speed-breaker mindset”.
“We have converted it into an effective, open, transparent ministry which protects the environment and also ensures development. On the one hand, it is environment protection and on the other, there is the agenda of development,” the minister said.
Javadekar, who is a former BJP spokesperson and a member of the Rajya Sabha from Madhya Pradesh, said the application process for environment clearance has been made online.
“We have made the process online. It has become a huge success,” Javadekar said, adding that the project promoter can easily track movement of a file.
Referring to a bill on a compensatory afforestation fund that was introduced in the Lok Sabha last Friday, Javadekar said the issue had been pending due to “indecision of the Congress-led government.”
The bill seeks to provide an institutional mechanism to ensure expeditious utilisation of amounts realised in lieu of forest land diverted for non-forest purpose.
Javadekar said that the government was also taking steps to reduce pollution.
“We have mandated 3,206 critically polluting industries to install 24×7 pollution monitoring devices,” he said.
The government has launched a national programme for LED-based home and street lighting to save power and spread the message of energy efficiency, he said.