A Framework of Principles for Environmental Regulatory Reform
A High Level Committee constituted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests on 29. 08. 2014 has been given the task of reviewing six environmental laws that are several decades old now. During the time they have been in implementation, numerous exercises have been attempted by successive governments to amend their clauses. For example, using the powers vested in it by the Environment (Protection) Act, the Central Government has made dozens of changes to Notifications issued under the Act. However, these exercises have either been piecemeal and in the nature of “tinkering with the clauses”, or have resulted in sweeping changes without any theoretical or empirical basis regarding their positive environmental and social outcomes.
The review by the HLC is an opportune moment to meaningfully assess the performance of environment regulation by examining the state of the environment itself. There are several studies that have come out in the past few years that have recommended major changes in the appraisal, decision making, monitoring and enforcement aspects of India’s environmental regulation. However, a comprehensive framework of principles for environmental regulation that guides the much-needed environmental regulatory reform has been missing so far.