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

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Executive's Environmental Dilemmas

Unpacking a Committee’s Report

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.

The Government of India's “trade-offs” between environment and social justice and economic growth have been a heightened point of debate in the last few years. In the second term of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, businesses had become vocal about the role of the environment ministry in slowing down growth rates by delaying or holding up approvals (Kumar and Bhuchar 2012). At the same time environmental and human rights organisations put out data on rates of forest diversion and steady approvals to prove that the ministry was appeasing the industry (Dutta 2012; CSE 2012; Menon and Kohli 2009).

Even as the 2014 elections were approaching, UPA ministers had begun stating that the economic slowdown in the country was not a result of bad policies or governance but of judicial overreach, which disallowed several sectors like coal, iron ore and communications to grow at the desired pace (Sardesai 2013). A new environment minister had been brought in the last days of the government to clear the approvals that had been held up.

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