Review of environmental laws 'absolute necessity', experts say
Welcoming a parliamentary panel’s recommendation of setting a new committee to review green laws, a Delhi-based green body said that evaluation of existing systems have become an “absolute necessity”.
The Standing Committee on Science and Technology and Environment and Forest in its report had recommended formation of a new committee to consider afresh specific areas of environmental policy after it found the objections raised by experts on the proposals of a high level committee constituted to review green laws as “valid”.
“A review of our environmental laws has become an absolute necessity as the existing systems are not working well. We need major reforms in green laws and institutions that implement these laws,” said Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in response to the recent move.
CSE had deposed before the Parliamentary Committee during the review of the High-Level Subramanian Committee (HLC) report. CSE has already expressed its strong reservations on many of the HLC recommendations, such as on public hearing, fast tracking projects, proposal of developing a new law which is largely clearance-centric and others.
The report had stated that the time of three months to review six green laws was “too short” and there was no cogent reason for hurrying through with the report without comprehensive and meaningful consultations with stakeholders. “An impression should not be created that a committee, whose constitution and jurisdiction are itself in doubt, has been used to tinker with established law and policy.
“Should the government wish to consider specific areas of environmental policy afresh, it may consider appointing another committee by following established procedures,” the committee chaired by former union minister Ashwani Kumar said.
In 2014, the HLC chaired by former cabinet secretary TSR Subramanian was entrusted with the task of reviewing and suggesting amendments to all the major environmental laws of the country. The committee submitted its report in November 2014 to the Environment Ministry.
CSE had however appreciated the HLC’s observations on multiplicity of laws and processes, and the need for improvement in compliance and enforcement.
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