Wishing you all a very Happy World Environment Day! Heartiest congratulations to Sadhguru and Isha Foundation on this occasion. In March, his organization started the Save Soil campaign. His journey through 27 countries has reached this place on the 75th day today. When the country is celebrating the 75th year of its independence and taking new resolutions in this 'AmritKaal', such mass campaigns become very crucial.
I am glad that the schemes and programmes that are running in the country for the last 8 years, there is an inherent urge to protect the environment in some way or the other. Be it Swachh Bharat Mission or schemes related to Waste to Wealth, construction of modern sewage treatment plants in cities under AMRUT mission or the campaign to get rid of single-use plastic, or campaign for cleaning Ganga under Namami Gange, or be it the focus on solar energy, One Sun-One Grid, or the increase in both production and blending of ethanol; India's efforts to protect the environment have been multi-faceted. And India is making these efforts at a time when the world is plagued by the issue of climate change. However, India has no role in this disaster.
The big countries of the world are not only exploiting more and more resources of the earth, but also are the highest carbon emitters in the world. The global average for carbon emissions is 4 tonnes per person; whereas the per capita carbon footprint in India is only around half a ton per person. Despite this, India is working towards the environment with a holistic approach not only within the country but also by engaging with the global community. Internationally, India has led the creation of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) and Sadhguruji has also mentioned about the International Solar Alliance or the ISA. Last year, India has also pledged to achieve the target of Net Zero by the year 2070.
Soil or this land is one of the five elements for us. With great pride we apply the soil to our forehead. We grow up falling on this very land while playing. There is no dearth of respect for the soil; there is no dearth in understanding the importance of the soil. Unfortunately, there is a lack of acceptance to the fact that the activities of mankind have caused how much damage to the soil! And just now Sadhguru ji was saying that everyone knows what the problem is!
When we were young, we were taught a lesson in our course. I have read in Gujarati; others might have read in their respective languages. As per the story, there was a stone lying on the way. People were passing by and getting angry as the stone was blocking the way. Some were kicking it while others were asking who placed this stone, from where did it come and so on. But no one picked it up to keep it aside. But then a gentleman passed by and thought of removing the stone from the way. Probably, he was someone like Sadhguru.
Talking about the meeting of Yudhishthira and Duryodhana, it is said about Duryodhana that - "जानाम धर्मं न च में प्रवृत्ति।।"
That is, I am aware of my duty but I am not inclined to do it; I can't; I know what the truth is, but I am unable to walk that path. So when such a tendency increases in the society, such crises crop up. That is when, through collective campaigns, we need to find ways to solve the problems.
I am glad that in the last eight years, the country has worked relentlessly to save the soil. To save the soil, we have focused on five important things-
First, how to make the soil chemical free? Second, how to save the creatures that live in the soil, i.e. the Soil Organic Matter in technical language? And third- how to maintain the moisture of the soil? How to increase the availability of water for the soil? Fourthly, how to stop the damage to the soil due to less groundwater? And fifth, how to stop the continuous erosion of the soil due to the reduction of the forest cover?
Keeping all these things in mind, the biggest change that has taken place in the country in the last few years is the agricultural policy of the country. Earlier, the farmer of our country lacked information about the type of his soil, the deficiency in his soil etc. To overcome this problem, a huge campaign was launched to give Soil Health Cards to the farmers in the country. If we give health cards to human beings that will make a headline in the newspapers saying Modi government has done some good work. But when it comes to distributing soil health cards media's coverage is very insignificant.
More than 22 crore Soil Health Cards were given to farmers across the country. And not just cards but a huge network related to soil testing has also been created across the country. Today, crores of farmers of the country are using fertilizers and micro-nutrients on the basis of information received from Soil Health Card. As a result, farmers have saved about 8 to 10 per cent in their input cost and have also seen an increase of 5-6 per cent in the yield. That is, as the soil is getting healthy, the production is also increasing.
100% neem coating of urea has also helped the soil a lot. Due to the promotion of micro-irrigation, and the Atal Bhujal Yojana, the soil health is improving in many states of the country. For example, if there is a 2-year old child who is malnourished, ill and his health is not getting any better. He is under-weight and is not growing in height. But someone suggests to the mother that milk and other such things are good for health. Suppose taking the suggestion, the mother feeds him 10 litres of milk every day; will his health be fine? However, if a sensible mother feeds her son small quantity of milk, spoonful of milk twice a day, five times or seven times a day, then gradually one will start noticing the improvement in his health.
The same is true for crops. It is not that the crop will yield good harvest if it is drowned in water. Rather, if water is given to the crop drop by drop, i.e. Per Drop More Crop, then it will do much better. Even an illiterate mother will never feed her child ten litres of milk, but sometimes we, the educated ones, fill the whole field with water. Anyway, we must keep trying to bring about a change in these matters.
We are trying to connect the people of the country with water conservation through campaigns like Catch the Rain. In March this year, a campaign to conserve 13 major rivers has also started in the country. Under this initiative, along with reducing the water pollution, work is also being done to plant forests on the banks of rivers. And it is estimated that this will increase the forest cover of India by more than 7400 square kilometre. India has increased the forest cover by more than 20 thousand square kilometres in the last eight years and this initiative will help in increasing the forest cover further.
The policies related to Biodiversity and Wildlife which India is following today has also increased record number of wildlife. Today the total count of Tigers, Lions, Leopards and Elephants is increasing in the country.
For the first time in the country, we have linked together the campaigns of making our villages and cities clean, achieving self-reliance in fuel, ensuring soil health and providing additional income to farmers. The Gobardhan scheme is one such effort. And when I speak of Gobardhan, some secular people will start questioning it. They will get upset.
Under the Gobardhan scheme, cow dung and other agricultural waste are being converted into energy through biogas plants. If you ever go to Kashi-Viswanath, please go and see the gobardhan plants which have been set up at a few kilometres distance. The organic manure that is made out of these plants is being used in the fields. In the last 7-8 years, more than 1600 new varieties of seeds have also been made available to the farmers so that we can produce enough without putting extra pressure on the soil.
Natural farming also has a great solution to our challenges today. In this year's budget, we have decided that we will encourage natural farming in the villages situated on the banks of the Ganges and set up a huge corridor of natural farming. In our country we have heard of Industrial Corridor and Defence Corridor so far. But now we have started a new corridor of Natural farming i.e. Agriculture Corridor on the banks of Ganga. With this, our fields will not only be chemical free, but the Namami Gange campaign will also get a new boost. India is also working on the target of restoring 26 million hectares of barren land by 2030.
To protect the environment, today India is constantly emphasizing on new innovations and pro-environment technology. You all are aware that to reduce pollution, we did not adopt the BS-5 norm; instead, we have jumped directly from BS-4 to BS-6. Due to the UJALA scheme that we launched to provide LED bulbs across the country, about 40 million tonnes of carbon emissions are being reduced annually. If everyone joins in, then everyone's efforts can bring about massive results.
India is also trying to minimize its dependence on fossil fuels. To meet our energy needs from renewable sources, we are working on much bigger goals. We had set a target of achieving 40% of our installed power generation capacity from non-fossil-fuel based sources. India has achieved this target 9 years ahead of its schedule. Today our Solar Energy Capacity has increased about 18 times. Both the Hydrogen Mission and the circular policy are a proof of our commitment to protect the environment. We have implemented the scrap policy for old vehicles. This scrap policy is going to be a game-changer.
In the midst of these efforts, on the Environment Day, India has made another achievement. And fortunately today I have found an appropriate platform to share the good news. Traditionally, in India it is believed that if you touch the one who returns from a pilgrimage, you too will get half the virtue. So, as I share this good news with the country today, the people around the world will also savour it. Yes some people can only seek pleasure. Today India has achieved the target of 10 percent ethanol blending in petrol.
You will also feel proud to know that India has reached this goal 5 months ahead of its schedule. You can guess the enormity of this achievement from the fact that only 1.5 per cent of ethanol used to be blended with petrol in India in 2014.
By hitting this target, India has received three direct advantages. One, about 27 lakh tonnes of carbon emission has been reduced. Second, India has saved foreign exchange of more than Rs 41 thousand crores. And the third important advantage is that the farmers of the country have earned more than Rs 40 thousand crores in 8 years due to the increase in ethanol blending. I congratulate the people of the country, the farmers of the country and the oil companies of the country for this accomplishment.
The PM-National Gati Shakti Master Plan that the country is working on today will also play a pivotal role in protecting the environment. Due to Gati-Shakti, the logistics system in the country will be modern and the transport system will be strong. This will go a long way in reducing pollution. The multimodal connectivity in the country and the work on more than hundred new waterways will help India in protecting the environment and tackling the challenge of climate change.
There is another aspect of these efforts of India which is rarely discussed and that is the subject of Green Jobs. The way India is taking decisions in the interest of environment and implementing them rapidly, is also generating a large number of green job opportunities. This is also a topic that should be thought about.
If the public awareness increases to protect the environment, to protect the earth and to protect the soil, then the results will be even better. My request to the country, to all the governments of the country, to all the local bodies and to all the voluntary organizations is to connect the schools-colleges, NSS and NCC in their efforts.
I want to make one more request related to water conservation in the 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav'. Efforts are underway to ensure that by August 15 next year, there are at least 75 Amrit Sarovars in every district of the country. More than 50 thousand Amrit Sarovar will help in ensuring water security for the generations to come. These Amrit Sarovars will increase the moisture in the soil around them, prevent the water level from going down and will also improve biodiversity. As a citizen, we all must consider how the participation of each one of us can increase in this huge resolution.
Protection of environment with rapid development is possible only through holistic approach and the efforts of all. What is the role of our lifestyle in it? How we should change it? I am going to talk about these things in a programme tonight. I am going to talk about it in detail because that event will be held on an international platform. Lifestyle for Environment i.e. Mission LiFE will be the picture of this century. The beginning of a mission to change the fate of the earth in this century will be P-3 i.e. Pro-Planet-People movement. Lifestyle for Environment's Global Call for Action is being launched this evening. I urge every person who is conscious of protecting the environment to join it. Otherwise, it will be a hypocritical situation like switching on the AC while covering the body with quilt. At the same time we will be delivering long speeches on environment protection in seminars!
You are doing a great service to the entire humanity. I wish you a great success in this long and arduous journey that Sadhguruji has undertaken on a bike. Although he has been inclined towards it since childhood, yet it is indeed a tedious task. Whenever I used to organize trips, I would tell my party that organizing a yatra means reducing the age by five to ten years because it takes so much effort. Sadhguru ji has travelled and has done a commendable job. And I firmly believe that the world must have grown its love for the soil and at the same time must have got acquainted with the power of India's soil.
Best wishes to all of you.