Union Science Minister Harsh Vardhan on Monday took charge of the Environment Ministry -- an additional portfolio allotted to him following the sudden demise of previous incumbent Anil Madhav Dave last week.Vardhan is the third Environment Minister in the BJP-led NDA government after Prakash Javadekar and Dave.Reviewing the work and tasks at hand, the Minister acknowledged that there were many immediate and complex issues that needed to be tackled. He marked pollution as his immediate priority."Pollution, both of air and water, is a matter of concern for the whole country, in general, and especially Delhi and NCR, and needs to be addressed on priority basis by the Ministry." He said it was important for the Ministry to quickly adopt the latest technologies, re-engineer clearance processes and develop policy initiatives to further enhance transparency, accountability and timely delivery.
Vardhan also stressed upon a collective effort to address climate change. "Involvement of the people is crucial for protection and conservation of environment. People's participation has to be increased," Harsh Vardhan added. Before assuming office at Indira Paryavaran Bhawan -- the headquarters for the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change here, Harsh Vardhan planted a sapling in memory of Dave. Dave passed away on May 18 at the age of 60, following cardiac arrest. He was appointed Environment Minister in 2016, following a reshuffle of the Narendra Modi cabinet. "Dave-ji did a great deal of work to protect our rivers, forests, ecosystem with the passion and the dedication of a true environmentalist," said Harsh Vardhan.He emphasised that the Ministry would always keep in mind the last wish of Dave to protect the environment by planting, protecting and nurturing trees and by cleaning of rivers and ponds.