ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Environmental Regulation in India

In a bid to fast-track environmental clearances for industrial projects, the Narendra Modi government constituted a high-level committee in 2014 under T S R Subramanian to review key environmental laws. In the context of the controversial recommendations made by the T S R Subramanian Committee to ease environmental norms and dilute people's participation in environmental governance to stimulate economic development, the article takes a critical look at the functioning of the Environmental Impact Assessment regime in India since its inception in 1994.

Access to India's Biodiversity and Sharing Its Benefits

The Biological Diversity Act, 2002 is meant to fulfil the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity, to which India became a party in 1994. In its 10-year history, a key issue that has dominated the implementation of the act is access to bio resources and sharing its benefits. The government's new guidelines on access and benefit sharing notified in 2014 have only marginally added to what the act and its rules lay down. In addition, neither the intended beneficiaries nor readers of the document get much hint of the thought process behind the exercise.

Executive's Environmental Dilemmas

The High-Level Committee set up by the Narendra Modi government to review the major laws relating to environment protection has, in its recommendations, worked towards two sets of objectives: one, to separate business from the messiness of governance, and, two, to redraw the line of demarcation between the judiciary and the executive.

Fielding Trials for Genetic Engineering

The manner in which the United Progressive Alliance government approved field trials of genetically engineered crops in the last few weeks of its term in office speaks poorly of its regard for the decision-making process.

Biodiversity Management Committees

The Biological Diversity Act was passed in 2002 and the rules to implement it came out in 2004. The main focus of implementation in the past decade has been to persuade local governments to set up biodiversity management committees, which are to compile people's biodiversity registers. The success of state biodiversity boards is measured in terms of the number of committees set up. In addition, the prospect of fi nancial gains is driving the law's implementation. The need for what a genuine dialogue on what a people-centred, biodiversity-sensitive, location-specific development model would look like has been lost sight of.

Two Coal Blocks and a Political Story

The controversy surrounding the clearances given to the Mahan and Chhatrasal coal blocks that are located within forested areas in Madhya Pradesh illustrates the continuing tussle between environment and conservation on one side and regulatory trade-offs in the interests of speedier economic growth on the other. It also exposes the conflicting approaches and attitudes within the government.

The Legal Meaning of Biodiversity

By suggesting that even coal extraction falls within provisions of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 and its specifi c provision of access and benefi t-sharing, the Madhya Pradesh State Biodiversity Board has raised important questions relating to the interpretation of the law. While the principle of profit sharing from commercial use of biological sources is justifi able, the authors argue that the principle of the conservation ethic should not be lost.

Ten Years of the Biological Diversity Act

As India plays host to the Convention on Biological Diversity's 11th Conference of the Parties in Hyderabad in October 2012, this article takes a closer look at the country's legislation on the subject - the BiologicalDiversity Act (2002).

The Nature of Green Justice

The National Green Tribunal has taken over from the National Environment Appellate Authority though the changeover has not been smooth. The tribunal has signifi cant powers and its rulings will affect the lives and livelihoods of communities as well as the future of ecologically fragile ecosystems. A look at the factors and issues it will have to consider while rendering environmental justice.

Inducing Vulnerabilities in a Fragile Landscape

In Sikkim at least 17 large hydropower projects on the Teesta River and its tributaries have their environmental clearances in place, despite warnings, improper assessments and negotiated conditions. At a point of time when a natural seismic occurrence has shaken the stability of an already unpredictable Himalayan ecosystem, it is important to revisit the concept of hydropower projects as a green, clean and safe option.

Diversion of Protected Areas: Role of the Wildlife Board

Between 1998 and 2008, the standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife considered 244 cases for diversion of protected areas. It approved diversion covering 2.88% of the area proposed, while rejecting a shift in a smaller area (0.87%). The rest of the area proposed for diversion still awaits a decision. The board has been meeting infrequently and the decision-making process has been slow.

From Impact Assessment to Clearance Manufacture

The newly appointed environment minister, Jairam Ramesh's statement supporting industry demands to speed up environmental clearance for development projects is unfortunate as it will weaken the already inadequate procedures for environmental impact assessment. Not only will this be calamitous for nature and the communities living at the project sites, it will also lead to delays as the affected people challenge such clearances in courts of law. The better course would be to strengthen the environmental clearance process and make it transparent.

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