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Environmental governance: India’s changing scenario

  • Categories
    Environment: A matter of Survival
  • Published
    4th May, 2022

Introduction:

  • Environmental governance is a concept in political ecology and environmental policy that advocates sustainability (sustainable development) as the supreme consideration for managing all human activities— political, social and economic. In other words, it refers to the processes of decision-making involved in the control and management of the environment and natural resources.
  • It views natural resources and the environment as global public goods, belonging to the category of goods that are not diminished when they are shared. This means that everyone benefits from, for example, a breathable atmosphere, stable climate and stable biodiversity.

History of Environmental Governance in India:

  • In the 1950s, the dominant view in the global environmental discourse was that ecological imbalances were caused by the population explosion in developing countries. But later on, the discourse changed a little and became more inclusive by factoring in various other reasons.
  • The National Planning Commission of India was instituted in 1950 with economic development as its primary objective. Its first task was to prepare “Five-Year Plans” (FYP) for fulfilling this intended aim. In its nascent stage, the FYPs focused more on development rather than environmental management.
  • However, the fourth FYP (1969-1974) made special mention of the need for environmental protection, and it stressed the importance of both environmental and economic concerns.
  • Incidentally, the history of environmental governance in post-independent India took a humble 25 years after Independence when the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, returned from the United Nations (UN) Conference on Human, Environment and Development in Stockholm in 1972. Indira Gandhi famously observed, “Environment cannot be developed in the condition of poverty, the major cause and effect of global environmental problems. Hence the new development paradigm is growth with equity, stability and sustainability.” The date on which the conference had opened, June 5 was marked to be celebrated every year as World Environment Day.
  • A National Environmental Planning and Co-Ordination Committee was formed by the Prime Minister with BP Pal (FRS). In 1972, the Central Pollution Control Board was set up followed by the state boards. The department of environment came into existence on November 1, 1980, followed by state departments.
  • Indira Gandhi was singularly responsible not only for the tiger conservation programme Project Tiger but also, for less high-profile initiatives for the protection of crocodiles, lions, hangul, cranes, Bustards, flamingos, deer and other endangered species.
Indira Gandhi used her political authority to protect ecologically sensitive areas such as the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the entire Northeast and the rainforests in the Western Ghats. An ally of the Chipko Movement of the 70s, she barred deforestation in the Himalayas for 15 years in 1980 with the Forest Conservation Act, until the forest cover was restored completely. She was also responsible for declaring Kerala's Silent Valley.
  • She pushed through two laws Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and Forest Conservation Act, 1980. The laws for dealing with water and air pollution — The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 — were also enacted as the umbrella act of Environment protection (1986).

Inadequacy of Environmental Governance:

  • In the aftermath of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy in 1984, environmental activism in India increased drastically. This was a landmark event in the environmental history of India. The inadequacy of the existing governance structure in preventing the disaster and the inadequacy of legal and administrative procedures pertaining to victims stirred people’s awareness of environmental negligence. This was one of the major factors contributing to the formation of The Environmental Protection Act of 1986 in tandem with the formation of a central authority: the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), now the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
  • This was followed by numerous legislations and acts to further strengthen environmental policy and law in India. Along with the previous policies, the MoEF also launched the National Environmental Policy (NEP) in 2006.

 

  • In 1996, India became a nation to follow the environmental governance system with a series of further controlling notifications on coastal zone management, hill development, and disposal of wastes (biomedical, plastic, hazardous). Public Interest Litigation provided justice through the Supreme Court and high courts.

Key principles of environmental governance include:

  • Embedding the environment in all levels of decision-making and action
  • Conceptualizing cities and communities, economic and political life as a subset of the environment
  • Emphasizing the connection of people to the ecosystems in which they live
  • Promoting the transition from open-loop/cradle-to-grave systems (like a garbage disposal with no recycling) to closed-loop/cradle-to-cradle systems (like permaculture and zero waste strategies).

Key Environmental Issues and Challenges:

  • Compliance: It is hard to find an answer to a question on the extent of compliance with environmental laws. It is difficult to pass a judgement on compliance without proper and reliable information. Measuring environmental compliance requires proper recordkeeping and monitoring system
  • Enforcement: There is ample evidence to show that enforcement of environmental laws tends to act weak if the enforcement is not right. The lack of proper enforcement by the regulatory agencies further aggravates the problem.
  • Violations and Penalty:
  • The National Green Tribunal is a specialised environmental institution constituted about a decade ago and has transformed environmental regulation and governance in India.
  • The past 10 years of the NGT can be largely summed up as a story of procedural success in environmental decision-making tainted by institutional erosion and selective adjudicative decisions. The industrial groups have also been very cautious in the preparation and submission of environmental impact assessment reports.
The last decade of the NGT marks the dialectics of significant judgments and disenchantment and institutional crisis. While a string of landmark orders has contributed to the procedural and substantive reforms in the environmental governance process in India, the arbitrary dismissal of appeals, limited benches, delay in the hearing, adjournment of hearings, non-availability of judges and experts, and implications of suo motu interventions by the NGT has raised concerns about the future of the NGT.

Environmental Governance in the Current Scenario:

  • The biennial global Environmental Performance Index report has consistently put India at the bottom of its rankings. We were an alarming 168th out of 180 countries in 2020, faring badly on virtually all indicators of environmental health policy, biodiversity and habitat, air and water pollution and climate change.
  • India has several rules and guidelines to control air pollution, but they aren’t put to good use. Coal-based power plants continue to be the major source of air pollution in the country as more than 300 coal thermal power plants still violate emission standards. Although the government is diligently working towards transitioning to solar energy looks appealing but there is still a long distance to cover.
  • The North Indian plains and the National Capital Region are engulfed in a debilitating smog year after year. Yet, there has been a lack of concerted action to address this public health emergency.
  • Judiciary ignored: More than two-thirds of the states/union territories in the country have neither bothered to comply with the orders passed by the Supreme Court nor complied with the directions given by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC). The judiciary’s order failed to even curb illegal rat-hole mining and miners in Meghalaya paid the price for that.
  • Other problems: Poor coordination across government agencies, weak institutional capacity, lack of access to information, corruption and stifled civic engagement are the key factors behind the poor effectiveness and implementation of environmental regulations.

Controversy about Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

  • It has been decided by the government to incentivise the states through a star-rating system, based on efficiency and timelines in the grant of EC (environmental clearance).
  • Environmentalists warned that the state authorities, whose mandate is to ensure the protection of the environment, will now “compete’’ to clear projects swiftly, to increase state rankings. ‘Ease of Doing Business’ should not come at the cost of negative consequences.
  • The State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) which clears projects in the shortest period of time, has a high rate of clearance and seeks fewer “essential details” will be ranked the highest.

Attack on Adivasis:

  • The Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, recognises the historical injustice faced by tribal forest dwellers due to the government’s failure to recognise their rights.
  • The twisted interpretation and shoddy implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, has led to Adivasis and forest-dwelling communities being harassed by the Forest Department.
  • Dilution of Act: Certain sections of environmentalists raise the concern that FRA bends more in the favour of individual rights, giving lesser scope for community rights.
  • Misuse of FRA: The FRA has been misused and communities have rushed to file claims. Politicians across party lines have interpreted FRA as a land distribution exercise and have fixed targets for districts.
  • Environmental injustice:
  • Environmental injustice is “the disproportionate exposure of communities of colour and the poor to pollution, as well as the unequal environmental protection provided through laws.”
  • The question of distribution of resources with the native Adivasis “who gets what, when, why and how much” has been becoming increasingly political.

Needs a Coal Mines Environment Authority:

  • India’s environmental governance must be reviewed to strike a correct balance between sustainability, local livelihoods, and developmental pressures. The well-documented violations of mining, environmental, and forest laws in Goa, Jharkhand, Odisha, and Karnataka also indicate the need to reinforce the environmental governance of the mining sector when multiple private miners are allowed to undertake mining operations.
  • Given India’s continued dependence on coal to supply power for industrial and residential consumers at affordable prices, the country needs a unified coal mines environment authority staffed with multidisciplinary expertise to assess and minimise the adverse environmental impacts of coal mines with an integrated approach to ensure more efficient, effective, and transparent environmental governance. This authority must be created by enacting a sustainable coal mining bill before private-sector commercial coal mines commence operations.

Creation of ‘independent’ Indian Environment Service:

  • S.R. Subramanian Committee report of 2014 had recommended the creation of a new All India Service as the “Indian Environment Service”.
  • It pointed out that there was no effective coordination amongst various Ministries/institutions regarding the integration of environmental concerns.
  • "There is a lack of trained personnel involved in the administration, policy formulation, and supervising the implementation of policies of the state government and central government.
  • While India has a strong environmental policy and legislative framework, much of the problem relates to the weak implementation of the various acts and the rules thereunder. Conservation advocates, project proponents and the judiciary none is satisfied with current environmental governance and the policy tools currently deployed in the management of the sector.
  • The citizens are facing many environmental issues such as air pollution, water pollution, non-eradication of solid waste and garbage and pollution of the natural environment. One of the major causes of environmental degradation is the flaw of the existing system that lies in the enforcement capabilities of environmental institutions at various levels.

India's Initiatives regarding Environment

1.       The Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972

2.       Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974

3.       Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980

4.       Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981

5.       Environment Protection Act, 1986

6.       Public Liability Insurance Act (PLIA), 1991

7.       The National Environment Tribunal Act, 1995

8.       The National Environment Appellate Authority population,1997

9.       The Biomedical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998

10.   The Environment (Siting for Industrial Projects) Rules, 1999

11.   The Ozone Depleting Substances (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000

12.    The Batteries (Management and Handling) Rules, 2001

13.   The Biological Diversity Act 2002 and Biological Diversity Rules

14.   National Environment Policy of 2006

15.   NAPCC: National Action Plan on Climate Change

16.   National Green Tribunal Act, 2010

17.   The Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Amendment Rules, 2010

18.   Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act, 2016

19.   Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2021

Environmental Policy and Constitutional Provisions in India:

  • Regarding environmental issues. Union and State Governments India, a Union of States, has a federal system of governance. The power of governance is shared between the Union Government and the State Governments.
  • List I or the Union List contains 97 subjects over which Parliament has exclusive power to legislate. These include defence, foreign affairs and environmentally relevant subjects such as atomic energy and mineral resources; regulation and development of interstate rivers and river valleys; highways; shipping and navigation in national highways; major ports; airways, aircraft and air navigation; regulation of mines and mineral development; development of oil fields etc.
  • The State legislatures have exclusive power to legislate for 66 subjects enumerated in List II or known as the State list. The environmental subjects over which State legislatures can legislate are public health and sanitation; agriculture; communication; preservation, protection and improvement of stock and prevention of animal diseases; water; land; etc.
  • Under List III or Concurrent List, Parliament and State legislatures have overlapping, concurrent and shared jurisdiction over 52 subjects ranging from forests, protection of wild animals, and mines and mineral development to population control and family planning minor ports, factories and electricity.
The State legislatures have full powers to legislate for subjects specified in the Concurrent List. But this power is subject to an important limitation, namely that the provisions of the State law should not conflict with any of the provisions of the Union law on that subject.
  • Article 262 confers exclusive power on Parliament to enact a law providing for the adjudication of any dispute or complaint concerning the use, distribution or control of waters of, or in, any inter-state river or river valley. In exercise of the power conferred by Article 262, the Indian Parliament enacted the Inter-State Water Dispute Act, 1956.
  • Article 249: Parliament is also empowered to legislate in the national interest on matters covered by the State list. And, if there is any inconsistency between the law made by Parliament under Article 249 and the law made by the State legislature, the law made by Parliament shall reign supreme.
Further, Parliament can enact laws on State subjects for those States whose legislatures have consented to such Central legislation. Thus, though water is a State subject, The Water [Prevention and Control of Pollution] Act of 1974 was enacted by Parliament, according to consent resolutions passed by 12 State legislatures. To legislate on environmental matters, the Indian Parliament has relied upon yet two other constitutional provisions. These provisions are Article 253 and Article 51(c).
  • Article 253 empowers Parliament to make laws for implementing any treaty, agreement or convention with any other country/countries or for implementing any decision made at any international conference, association or other body.
  • Article 51(c) mandates that the State shall endeavour to foster respect for international law and treaty obligations. These two Articles, therefore, legitimize the Parliament to pry open List-II and enact laws on any entries contained in it provided it is necessary for implementing the treaty obligations of India.

Two major and vital Indian environmental laws, namely, The Air [Prevention and Control of Pollution] Act of 1981 and The Environmental [Protection] Act of 1986, have been enacted under these Constitutional provisions. The Preambles to both these laws State that the statutes are enacted to implement the decisions reached at the United Nations Conference on Human Environment held in Stockholm in 1972.

  • Constitutional (42nd Amendment) Act of 1976: The United Nations Conference on Human Environment also gave rise to the Constitutional (42nd Amendment) Act, of 1976. The Amendment expanded the list of concurrent subjects by introducing a new entry Population Control and Family Planning and two entries Forests and Protection of Wild Animals and Birds were shifted from the State List to the Concurrent List.
  • The Constitutional (42nd Amendment) Act of 1976 also resulted in the inclusion of Article 48A and Article 51A (g) in the Constitution.
  • Article 48A casts an obligation on the Indian State not only to protect but, more importantly, to improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country.
  • Article 51A (g) imposes a fundamental duty on the Indian citizen to protect and improve the natural environment, including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures. Therefore, the duty to protect and enhance the quality of the environment in India is the duty of the Union, States and the citizens.

The Indian Constitution focuses mainly on Centre-State relations. Till 1992, it hardly talked about local Government, except in Article 40 in Part IV of the Constitution.

  • The 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments added XI and XII Schedules to the Constitution. While XI Schedule distributes powers between the State legislature and the panchayat; XII Schedule distributes powers between the State legislature and the municipality. Both Schedules contain environmental subjects.
The panchayat can handle agriculture; land improvement and soil conservation; minor irrigation, water management and watershed development; animal husbandry; fisheries; social forestry; rural housing; drinking water; fuel and fodder; electricity and non-conventional energy sources. The municipality can undertake town planning; regulation of land use and construction of buildings; roads and bridges; water supply for domestic, industrial and commercial purposes; public health, sanitation, solid waste management; urban forestry, protection of the environment and promotion of ecological aspects; slum improvement and up-gradation; provision of urban amenities and facilities such as parks and gardens; cattle ponds and prevention of cruelty to animals; and regulation of slaughterhouses and tanneries.
  • It warrants noting that the XI and XII Schedules merely list suggested environmental functions for panchayats and municipalities. The States are not obliged to devolve all or some of these listed functions on the panchayats and municipalities.
  • However, local Governments do perform some environmental functions such as public health and sanitation, garbage collection and sewage. But there is considerable variation across the Indian States in the range and nature of environmental functions discharged by the panchayats and municipalities.
India is one of the parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) treaty. Before the CBD, India had different laws to govern the environment. The Indian Wildlife Protection Act 1972 protected biodiversity. It was amended later multiple times. The 1988 National Forest Policy had conservation as its fundamental principle. In addition to these acts, the government passed the Environment (Protection) Act 1986 and Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act 1992 for control of biodiversity.

Environmental Policy and Governance in India:

  • Environmental policy is the commitment of an organization to the laws, regulations, and other policy mechanisms concerning environmental issues. These issues generally include air and water pollution, waste management, ecosystem management, maintenance of biodiversity, the protection of natural resources, wildlife, and endangered species.
  • Environmental policy instruments are tools used by governments to implement their environmental policies. Governments may use different types of instruments. For example, economic incentives and market-based instruments such as taxes and tax exemptions, tradable permits, and fees can be very effective to encourage compliance with environmental policy.
  • Since the 1980s, the Supreme Court of India has been very active in environmental issues. It has been engaged in introducing and interpreting new changes in environmental laws. The court has devised new principles, environmental laws, and institutional frameworks. It has also conferred additional powers on existing authorities through judgments and directions.
  • The popular discourse around environmental governance in India suggests that such governance has emerged as a response to global initiatives and that external discourses have influenced the regime. However, this negates the long-term vision of Indian policymakers themselves. An alternate discourse has been that social movements in India have acted as a driving force behind demands for governance.

Policy Principles for Environmental Protection:

  1. The Polluter Pays Principle (PPP): The Polluter Pays Principle, as interpreted by the Supreme Court of India, means that the absolute liability for harm to the environment extends not only to compensate the victims of pollution but also to the cost of restoring the environmental degradation. Thus, it includes environmental costs as well as direct costs to people or property.
  2. The User Pays Principle—(UPP): It is considered a part of the PPP. The principle states that all resource users should pay for the full long-run marginal cost of the use of a resource and related services, including any associated treatment costs. It is applied when resources are being used and consumed.
  3. The Precautionary Principle (PP): The main objective of the precautionary principle is to ensure that a substance or activity posing a threat to the environment is prevented from adversely affecting the environment, even if there is no conclusive scientific proof of linking that particular substance or activity to environmental damage. The words environmental damage. The words ‘substance’ and ‘activity’ are the result of human intervention.

Sustainable Policy Approach to Check Environmental Degradation:

  • Economic growth always brings the risk of environmental damage, as it puts increased pressure on environmental resources. But the policymakers guided by the concept of sustainable development will necessarily work to assure that developing economies remain firmly attached to their ecological roots and these roots are protected so that they may support growth over the long run. Thus, sustainable development is closely linked to economic development. Sustainable development includes various policy measures to check the environmental degradation and reduce the costs of economic growth.
  1. Reducing Poverty
  2. Removing Subsidies
  3. Clarifying and Extending Property Rights
  4. Market-Based Approaches
  5. Regulatory Policies
  6. Economic Incentives
  7. Trade Policy
  8. Public Participation

Addressing Environmental Issues of the Future:

  • Decentralisation of decision-making and a much more open, accountable system of governance. The centralised bureaucratic system had led to much of the shortsighted, destructive development.
  • Acknowledgement of the right of the citizens to know. Further, detailed project reports and information relating to rehabilitation, afforestation, etc. to be in the public domain.
  • Open scrutiny as the characteristic of all government programmes at all scales, including small village level programmes.
  • Grant of the right to productive work to large numbers of our poorer citizens, work that focuses on sustainable development of our natural resources and on eco-restoration.
  • Good management of the local resource base, through a properly organised right to work programme.
  • India had announced its first Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement in 2015. The Prime Minister of India, as a part of the national statement delivered at the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP 26) in Glasgow in November 2021, announced ambitious targets to be achieved by 2030 to enable further reduction in emissions. The need to start the one-word movement ‘LIFE’ which means Lifestyle for Environment urging mindful and deliberate utilization instead of mindless and destructive consumption was underlined.

Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021:

  • It was notified which is aimed at phasing-out single-use plastic by 2022. The draft regulation on the Extended Producer Responsibility for plastic packaging has been notified.
  • The regulation seeks to strengthen the circular economy of plastic packaging waste and promote the development of new alternatives to plastics and sustainable plastic packaging.
  • For effective implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility, the Guidelines for Extended Producer Responsibility being brought out have been given legal force through Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021.

Major Initiatives and Achievements:

  • India has announced the National Hydrogen Mission for generating hydrogen from green energy sources. Through technological advancements, hydrogen is being blended with CNG for use as a transportation fuel as well as an industrial input to refineries.
  • Indian Railways has set a target of Net Zero Carbon Emission by 2030, primarily through sourcing its energy requirements through renewable energy sources. Apart from this, Prime Minister Narendra Modi at COP-26 announced that India will achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2070.
  • India has launched the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM) Scheme to provide energy and water security, de-dieselise the farm sector and generate additional income for farmers by producing solar power.
  • To facilitate large scale grid-connected solar power projects, a scheme for “Development of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects” is under implementation with a target capacity of 40 GW capacity by March 2024.
  • Roof Top Solar Programme Phase-II for accelerated deployment of solar rooftop systems, with a target of 40 GW installed capacity by December 2022, is also under implementation. The scheme provides for financial assistance for up to 4 GW of solar rooftop capacity to the residential sector.
  • The government of India has notified the Offshore Wind Energy Policy to harness the potential of offshore wind energy along India’s coastline. Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is developing a strategy and roadmap for the installation of offshore wind projects off the coast of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.

National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC):

  • India launched the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) in 2008, establishing eight National Missions to advance action on the country’s climate priorities. The major developments under the NAPCC are as follows:
  1. National Solar Mission (NSM): Achieve 100 GW of solar power in seven years starting from 2014-15.
  2. National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE): To achieve growth with ecological sustainability.
  3. National Mission for a Green India (GIM): Improved ecosystem services by increasing forest/tree cover by 5 m ha and improving the quality of forest cover by another 5 m ha (a total of 10 m ha).
  4. National Mission on Sustainable Habitat (NMSH): Development of sustainable habitat standards.
  5. National Water Mission (NWM): Focuses on monitoring of groundwater, aquifer mapping, capacity building, water quality monitoring and other baseline studies.
  6. National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture: Enhancing food security by making agriculture more productive, sustainable, remunerative, and climate-resilient.
  7. National Mission for Sustaining Himalayan Ecosystems: To continuously assess the health status of the Himalayan Ecosystem.
  8. National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change (NMSKCC): To gain a better understanding of climate science and formation of knowledge networks among existing knowledge institutions engaged in research and development (R&D)

Sustainable Developmental Goals:

  • India has been making strides towards achieving the social, economic and environmental goals covered under SDGs. This achievement gains further significance in the face of the considerable human and economic costs imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has set countries back on their developmental goals and created serious impediments to the attainment of the SDGs, the world over.
  • NITI Aayog SDG India Index: India’s federal structure implies that states must take charge to enable progress on achieving the country’s SDGs. The NITI Aayog SDG India Index is the world’s first government-led sub-national measure of SDG progress. It has been developed to capture the progress of all states and union territories (UTs) in their journey towards achieving the SDGs. This index recognizes that action is required at all levels, and it is therefore based on the approach of cooperative and competitive federalism.
  • PARIVESH portal: In order to streamline the procedure for early grant of Clearances under this Ministry PARIVESH portal has been simplified for grant of Environmental Clearances which is now been reduced to 70 working days.
  • Due to the above initiatives along with other Policy reforms, the average time taken for grant of EC in all the sectors has reduced significantly. In some of the sectors, the ECs are being granted even within 60 days also accordingly, ECs for 7787 projects were granted under EIA Notification in 2021.
In pursuant to the spirit of ‘Digital India’ and capturing the essence of Minimum Government and Maximum Governance, a Single-Window Integrated Environmental Management System named PARIVESH (Pro-Active and Responsive facilitation by Interactive, Virtuous and Environmental Single Window Hub) has been developed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change for complete online, expeditious and transparent system for environment, forest, wildlife and CRZ clearances in the country. The facility is operational for the processing of applications for Environmental clearance (ECs), Forest clearance (FCs), and Coastal Regulatory Zone clearance (CRZ). Over the years, the existing system of ‘PARIVESH’ has undergone numerous modifications and customization in alignment with statutory provisions and requirements.
  • Nagar Van Yojana: Ministry is implementing Nagar Van Yojana and revised its guidelines in October 2021 with an aim of developing 400 Nagar Vans and 200 Nagar Vatikas with the objective to significantly enhance the tree outside forests and green cover in cities leading to a better environment, enhancement of biodiversity and ecological benefits to the urban and peri-urban areas apart from improving quality of life of city dwellers.
  • Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA): Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) are meant to promote afforestation and regeneration activities as a way of compensating for forest land diverted to non-forest uses.
  • Integrated Coastal Zone Management: Blue Economy is one of the thrust areas of the Government for sustainable development of coastal resources. The development will be in due consideration of Conservation & protection of coastal and marine resources, Pollution abatement measures, Management of coastal and Marine ecosystems, Livelihood enhancement with the security of the coastal community, Capacity building and will also comprehend Sustainable development goals.
  • 10 beaches in 7 States and One Union Territory, have been developed at par with international standards and have been conferred with prestigious Blue Flag certification for their environmentally sound management and ecological sustainable infrastructures with adequate safety measures. This has resulted in better waste management, maintaining bathing water quality, self-sustaining solar energy-based infrastructure, containing marine littering, enhancing local level livelihood options and increased tourist-based economy.
  • Combating the Land Degradation, Desertification and Drought: India committed to achieving Land Degradation Neutrality and restoration of 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030, which includes 21 million hectares of Bonn Challenge and an additional commitment of 5 million hectares as a voluntary commitment. India presently holds the Presidency of UNCCD COP for 2 years till April 2022.
  • National Clean Air Program: Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) is implementing National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) for reducing levels of air pollution in non-attainment cities (NACs) of the country since January 2019. NCAP is implemented in targeted 132 cities.
  • Avoiding Use of Single-Use Plastics and Efficient and Effective Management of Plastic Waste: To enhance the efficacy implementation of PWMR, the Ministry has notified the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021 on 12th August 2021 which also prohibits identified single-use plastic items, which have low utility and high littering potential, by 2022.
  • Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Portal for Plastic Packaging (CPCB) for improving accountability, traceability, transparency and facilitating ease of reporting compliance to EPR Obligations by Producers, Importers and Brand-owners.

Conclusion:

  • It is apparent that efforts done by India for the protection of the environment are worth praising and there is no shortage of rules, regulations and laws regarding the environment in the country. Over the years India has framed the environmental laws in accordance with international requirements for the protection of the environment. Keeping in view the geographical and cultural diversity of the country, the laws have been effectively framed and there seems to be comprehensive coverage of all the aspects and areas of the environment.
  • But unless implementation and enforcement are strengthened, even rules that appear to be rigorous are destined to fail and the fundamental human right to a healthy environment will go unfulfilled. We need to shift its focus from the development of policies and institutions to implementation and enforcement.
  • Of course, progress requires trade-offs, but there must always be boundaries that cannot be transgressed. The government should recognise it has a social obligation to protect the environment and promote public health. India’s environmental protection framework is not a regulatory burden and the government must incentivise the industry to shift its mindset from clearances to compliance.
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