The opposition Congress party in India released their “manifesto” — a party statement across a range of issues — a few days ago. It is long and has rough (sometimes detailed, sometimes vague) policy outlines. Of particular interest are a number on energy and health.
Congress promises to enhance availability of, and access to, electricity in rural areas by encouraging investment in off-grid renewable power generation with ownership and revenues vesting in local bodies. Every village and every home will be electrified in the true sense. In the long term, we aim to substitute LPG used in homes by electricity and solar energy.
Under environment and climate change:
Congress promises an action agenda that will place India at the forefront of the battle against global warming and for the protection of the environment. At the same time, Congress will defend and advance India’s interests in international negotiations on Climate Change and the Environment.
We will constitute, by law, an independent, empowered and transparent Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to establish, monitor and enforce environmental standards and regulations. The EPA will replace all other bodies that currently exercise jurisdiction and powers.
Congress recognises that air pollution is a national public health emergency. We will significantly strengthen the National Clean Air Programme in order to urgently tackle the problem of pollution. All major sources of emission will be targetted, mitigated and reduced to acceptable levels. Sectoral emission standards will be set.
Congress promises to provide clean cooking fuels at affordable prices to all the households of the country. We will monitor the price of LPG cylinders and mitigate through subsidies the burden of price increases on the homemaker.
We will expand the ASHA programme and appoint a second ASHA worker in all villages with a population exceeding 2500 persons. Congress will implement a programme that will enable State Governments to revamp and equip the network of primary health centres (PHCs). PHCs will provide all primary health services, including preventive measures and wellness services, and become referral centres for serious medical cases.
Para-state workers such as Anganwadi workers, ASHA workers, rozgarsahayaks, preraks, and anudeshaks, form the backbone of the public service delivery system. We will increase funding for the relevant programmes and work with State Governments to ensure that all arrears are paid immediately. We will also work with State Governments and attempt to address all pending contentious issues regarding their salaries and work conditions. In addition, we will expand the ASHA programme and appoint a second ASHA worker in all villages with a population exceeding 2500 persons.