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External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday asserted that honouring Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the United Nations 'Champions of the Earth' award is a fitting recognition of his leadership towards making the planet a cleaner place.
On September 26, Prime Minister Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron were recognised in the Policy Leadership category of the world body's highest environmental honour, Champions of the Earth.
Addressing in the 'Champions of the Earth' event at Pravasi Bhartiya Kendra here, Swaraj said: "This is a huge and proud moment for India. Prime Minister Modi got this award for his leadership and his tireless contributions in building a clean environment. Prime Minister Modi getting the UN Champions of the Earth award is a fitting recognition of his leadership towards making our world a cleaner place."
Hailing the Prime Minister for his vision of a clean environment, the External Affairs Minister recalled that when countries tried to back out from the Paris Agreement, Prime Minister Modi was firm that the pact has to stay to safeguard 5,000 years of Indian tradition and the world must come together.
"As Prime Minister, Modi Ji has taken numerous steps for the protection of the environment. He and French President Emmanuel Macron had founded the International Solar Alliance and took the organisation to great heights. Our Prime Minister has always believed that we can conserve our environment and move on the path of development," Swaraj stressed.
She underlined that Prime Minister Modi is committed to fulfilling various targets before deadlines for ensuring a clean and better environment. Speaking on the significance of Earth in India, Swaraj said: "Earth is not just a planet, she is referred to as Mother Earth. In West, when work on constructing a building begins, we refer it as groundbreaking ceremony. But, in India, we refer it as 'Bhumi Pujan'."
Heaping praises on Prime Minister Modi's active outreach in encouraging the use of renewable energy in the country, Swaraj went on to say that India is well on course to achieve 175 GW of clean energy capacity in the next few years.
Stressing that purchasing solar energy was now affordable to the masses, she further said: "Earlier, when people used to say that solar energy is expensive and was reluctant to use such forms of energy, today, solar energy prices have come down from Rs. 17.19 to Rs. 2.44, which is the minimum cost."
Prime Minister Modi was selected in the leadership category for his pioneering work in championing the International Solar Alliance and for his unprecedented pledge to eliminate all single-use plastic in India by 2022, a UN statement had said.
Awarded annually, the 'Champions of the Earth' prize is given to outstanding leaders from government, civil society and the private sector whose actions "have had a positive impact on the environment".
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