We are pleased to inform you that Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has started a quarterly newsletter focused on environmental regulations and regulators. The newsletter will cover new and upcoming laws and regulations, changes in the regulatory regime, important environmental litigations and best practices in regulations and its implementation. It will also capture news from key environmental regulators and give critical perspective on important regulatory issues. The purpose of this newsletter is not only to share information, but also to build a community of stakeholders who can push for better environmental governance in the country.
Reform in India's environmental regulations and regulatory institutions is overdue. Ministry of Environment and Forests, that gives environmental clearance to all the major projects, does not have the capacity to properly appraise projects or have the capacity to monitor them. The newly created “autonomous and independent” State Environmental Impact Assessment Authorities that clear smaller projects are operating without oversight. The problem of the State Pollution Control Boards is one of lack of capacity, accountability and transparency. These institutions are currently incapable of strong action vis-à-vis compliance. Industries, therefore, pollute as there is no credible deterrence to non-compliance. These issues plaguing the country’s environmental governance are well known, but hardly any significant action has been taken to solve them. Through this newsletter, we hope to take the agenda of reforms forward.
In this first issue of the newsletter, we have highlighted the issue of environment and forest clearance in the country, draft E-Waste rules and National Green Tribunal.
Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has recently released its study on the environment and forest clearances granted during the 11th Five Year Plan to major mining and industrial projects. Our study concludes that current system of green clearances is not working for environment and people. Projects are being cleared in a hurry without properly assessing their environmental impacts and mitigation measures. The clearance process also does not look at the cumulative impact assessment. For instance in the last five years MoEF has given environmental clearance to 2.1 lakh MW thermal power capacity which is almost double the current thermal power capacity in the country. Most importantly these thermal power plants are coming in clusters and in areas that are already critically polluted. The story is same for other sectors. Please go through the recommendations we have made for reforming the environment and forest clearance processes. We need your inputs to come out with a robust set of recommendations which we will take to the MoEF for implementation.
NGT has started operating in Delhi with seven members (four expert and three judicial members) and a chairperson. This is a critical phase for NGT as principles, procedures and institutional structure will be put in place. We all will have to work towards institutionalizing NGT that is accessible and delivers environmental and social justice to the people. We will keep a watch on it and report on its progress from time to time. We also have to work together to bring a strong and implementable E-Waste Rules.
We are eager to have your advice and comment on the newsletter and would appreciate research and story ideas from your side. You can e-mail your feedback/opinion at firstname.lastname@example.org.