Decentralisation of Environmental Regulations in India

The decentralisation of Environment Impact Assessment processes has improved the enforcement of environmental regulations and been successful in reducing polluting activities in India. Evidence suggests that decentralisation was associated with relatively fewer firm births in states with stricter environmental law enforcement. In such a scenario, the development of stronger collaborations between various stakeholders would enhance the enforcement of environmental regulations and reduce disparities between states, through knowledge and resource sharing, and improving technical, financial and administrative capabilities.

Environmental protection rights and duties have long been a part of the Indian Constitution. Elaborate laws relating to environmental protection have their genesis in the enactment of the Water Act of 1974. The central government, through the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC) and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), is responsible for planning and formulating national policies and standards. The implementation and enforcement are decentralised and are the responsibility of the State Pollution Control Boards (SPCB). On the one hand, the decentralisation process has the potential to reduce the burden on the central government and to accelerate the approval process. On the other, the decentralised powers could be futile if state governments intend to actively pursue industrialisation for their respective state, or be ineffective if state authorities lack technical and financial capacity.

Cistulli (2002) suggests that the de­centralisation of environmental regulation helps with better understanding of local environmental problems, to promote more transparent and efficient use of natural resources, as well as to increase local participation based on the homogeneity of common goals and priorities. At the same time, there could be trade-offs on the success of any decentralisation process such as weak administrative or technical capacity, lack of financial resources, poor coordination bet­ween national and local policies and the risk of local elite capture (Besley and Coate 2003).

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Updated On : 31st Oct, 2018

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