I extend my heartfelt wishes to all of you, our country, and the world on World Environment Day. The theme for this year's Environment Day is the campaign to get rid of single-use plastic. I am pleased that India has been consistently working on this issue for the past 4-5 years, much before the global initiative. As early as 2018, India initiated action on two levels to get rid of single-use plastic. On one hand, we imposed a ban on single-use plastic, and on the other hand, we made plastic waste processing mandatory. As a result, approximately 30 lakh tons of plastic packaging in India are now being compulsorily recycled. This accounts for 75 per cent of the total annual plastic waste generated in India. Today, around 10,000 producers, importers, and brand owners are actively participating in this endeavour.
In the 21st century, India is marching forward with a clear roadmap for climate change and environmental conservation. India has struck a balance between present requirements and future vision. On one hand, we have provided necessary assistance to the poorest of the poor, making earnest efforts to fulfil their needs; on the other hand, we have also taken significant steps in addressing future energy requirements.
Over the past nine years, India has placed unprecedented focus on green and clean energy. Solar power has gained significant momentum, and LED bulbs have reached a larger number of households, saving money for our people, especially the poor and middle class, while also protecting the environment. Electricity bills have consistently reduced. India's leadership has been recognized globally even during this global pandemic. Amidst this global pandemic, India has initiated the Mission Green Hydrogen. Additionally, India has taken significant steps towards natural farming and organic agriculture to protect soil and water from chemical fertilizers.
Brothers and sisters,
Continuing the campaign for a green future and a green economy, today marks the beginning of two more initiatives. Over the past nine years, the number of wetlands and Ramsar sites in India has increased by nearly threefold compared to earlier. Today, the ‘Amrit Dharohar Yojana’ has been launched. This scheme will ensure the conservation of these Ramsar sites through community participation. These Ramsar sites will become centers of eco-tourism and serve as a source of green jobs for thousands of people in the future. The second initiative is related to the long coastline of the country and the population residing there. Through the "Mishti Yojana," the country's mangrove ecosystem will be revived and protected. This will help restore mangrove cover in nine states of the country. It will also contribute to raising the sea level and reducing the impact of coastal areas from disasters like cyclones, thus improving livelihoods and lives in these coastal regions.
It is crucial for every nation in the world to rise above self-interests and think about the protection of the world climate. The model of development in major and modern countries for a long time is highly contentious. In this development model, the focus was largely on first developing our own countries and then considering the environment later. As a result, while these countries have achieved their development goals, the entire world has had to bear the cost of their progress. Even today, developing and underdeveloped countries are suffering the consequences of the wrong policies of some developed nations. For decades, no one, no country questioned or stopped this approach of certain developed countries. I am pleased that today India has raised the question of climate justice in front of every such nation.
India's ancient culture encompasses both nature and progress. Inspired by this ideology, India today focuses on ecology as much as it emphasizes the economy. While India is investing unprecedentedly in its infrastructure, it continues to maintain a strong focus on the environment. On the one hand, while India has expanded its 4G and 5G connectivity, on the other hand, it has simultaneously increased its forest cover. On the one hand, while India has constructed four crore homes for the poor, on the other hand, India has also recorded significant growth in wildlife and wildlife sanctuaries. On the one hand, India is running the Jal Jeevan Mission, while on the other hand, it has also created over 50,000 Amrit Sarovars (water bodies) for water security. On the one hand, while India has become the world's fifth-largest economy, on the other hand, India is also among the top five countries in renewable energy. On the one hand, while India is stepping up agricultural exports, on the other hand, India is simultaneously promoting a campaign for 20% ethanol blending in petrol. On the one hand, while India has established organizations like the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), on the other hand, it has also announced the International Big Cat Alliance. It is a significant step towards the conservation of big cats.
I am personally very pleased that Mission LiFE, which stands for Lifestyle for the Environment, is becoming a global public movement, a people's movement. When I launched Mission LiFE last year in Kevadia-Ekta Nagar, Gujarat, there was a curiosity among the people. Today, this mission is spreading awareness about adopting a lifestyle change to tackle climate change. Just a month ago, a campaign was launched for Mission LiFE. I am told that nearly two crore people have joined it in less than 30 days. With the spirit of ‘Giving Life to My City’, rallies have been organized and quiz competitions have taken place. Lakhs of schoolchildren and their teachers have become part of this campaign through eco-clubs. Lakhs of colleagues have embraced the mantra of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle in their daily lives. Changing habits is the fundamental principle of Mission LiFE, which aims to bring about a transformation in the world. Mission LiFE is crucial for the future generations and the bright future of humanity.
This awareness is not limited to just our country, but support for India's initiative is growing worldwide. I made another appeal to the global community last year on World Environment Day. The appeal was to share innovative solutions for bringing climate-friendly behavioural change among individuals and communities. The solutions that should be measurable and scalable! It is a matter of great satisfaction that colleagues from nearly 70 countries around the world have shared their thoughts. Among them are students, researchers, experts from various domains, professionals, NGOs, and ordinary citizens. Some of the participants have been rewarded today for their exceptional ideas. I congratulate all the award winners wholeheartedly.
Every step taken towards Mission LiFE will become a strong shield for the environment across the globe in the times to come. The collection of thought leadership for LiFE has also been released today. I believe that our commitment to green growth will become even more powerful and sustainable with such efforts. Once again, I extend my heartfelt greetings and best wishes to everyone on World Environment Day.