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

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Moving ‘Forward’ in the Old Direction

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.

The last year has been eventful for environmental regulation in India. Following what was described by many as an unusual and exceptional election result, the Narendra Modi-led government set out to carry through its campaign promises. One was to “fast-track” the process for appraisal of projects seeking environmental approvals from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) (Mohan 2014; Kohli 2015).

Over the year, even as specific notifications related to environment regulation were modified independently, the environment ministry began the process of selectively implementing the suggestions made by the committee it had set up to review six major environmental laws. This committee, chaired by former cabinet secretary T S R Subramanian, submitted its report in November 2014. It contains a wide range of suggestions related to how industrial and infrastructure projects should be appraised for their environmental impacts, how pollution control technologies and penalties for violations should be put in place, and what should be the institutional framework for environmental regulation in India (MoEFCC 2014).

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