Growth and development have been a perfect pretext for carrying out activities that harm and pollute the environment.
The rate of environment pollution is on an increase and the Modi government is currently reviewing the environmental laws and setting up bodies at state and central levels for evaluating projects. A high level committee has been set up by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) to review the green laws in the country and is headed by the former cabinet secretary T S R Subramanian. It has recommended formulating a new “umbrella” law to streamline the process of environment clearances for development projects in the country. The main task of the committee is to amend the environment and forest related laws such as the Environment Protection Act (EPA) of 1986, Forest Conservation Act (FCA) of 1980, Wildlife Protection Act (WPA) of 1972, the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1974 and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1981, so as to be ‘in line with current requirements to meet objectives’ and to approve the schemes with no further delay.
The report has been submitted and cites that the current environmental governance and the policy tools deployed in the management of the sector were unsatisfactory. But the revamping of the laws by the committee does not guarantee environmental protection. A ‘fast track’ procedure for “linear” projects (roads, railways and transmission lines), power and mining projects and for the “projects of national importance” has been prescribed in the new mechanism and given much significance. The people who would be suffering amidst all the developmental projects backed by corporate giants are left with no sympathy. Transparency in taking decisions will also be compromised. This will only lead to social protests and clashes disrupting the harmony in the society. The common man is never involved in the discussions and the steps including coal mining are approved without consultations with them.
That the government is manipulating and modifying the green laws to suit the interests of the business and corporate giants is plainly evident. Attempts are also being made to curb the power of the National Green Tribunal. The report should be published and made a subject of discourse as it is capable of bringing out significant changes in the rules and regulations and hence have a direct impact on the environmental issues. It is not the ‘good days’ that have arrived but days obsessed with developmental insanity that contributes to anti-public activities finally leading to the pollution and destruction of nature.