Environmental Protection: TSR Subramanian Committee Recommendations

Environmental protection is one of the major global challenges. It is a bigger challenge for India as we are still developing and inevitably development is done at the cost of environment.
The Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change had appointed the High Level Committee (HLC) to review the following Acts administered by the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change.
  • Environment (Protection) Act, 1986
  • Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980
  • Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
  • The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
  • The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act,   1981

Objectives of the committee:

(i)     To assess the status of implementation of each of the above Acts vis-a-vis the  objectives;
(ii)   To examine and take into account various court orders and judicial pronouncements relating to these Acts;
(iii)  To recommend specific amendments needed in each of these Acts so as to bring them in line with current requirements to meet objectives; and
(iv)  To draft proposed amendments in each of the above Acts to give effect to the proposed recommendations.

How would it help:

  • avoid undue delays and ensure transparency in clearances and implementation of projects
  • balance developmental imperatives causing least possible damage to environment
    1. Set up National Environment Management Authority  (NEMA) for project clearance. MoEF can veto it but on reasonable grounds. This will free MoEF and can focus on water, air pollution issues etc
    2. Project reports and assessments should be accepted assuming utmost good faith. (What if later found out to be dubious? Can the damages to nature, ecology and people be reversed? No!)
    3. Merge SPCB and create SEMA to be accountable to Center, to weed out corruption. They will monitor environmental compliance
    4. The biennial environmental impact data should be made public by the firms for public scrutiny
    5. Non-compliance or deliberate concealment should be penalized heavily
    6. National Green Tribunal to do judicial review of NEMA/SEMA orders
    7. Protected Areas and forests with 70% Canopy to be No-Go areas. (This means that a miniscule fraction of forests that are too dense will fall in this category. What about those forests that have been degraded, should they continue to remain open to exploitation?)
    8. Removal of Gram Sabha approval for linear projects
    9. Greater use of tech in monitoring compliance
    10. Compensatory Afforestation requirement to become 2:1 from 1:1

These recommendations regarding environmental protection could be useful in writing your answers in GS papers as well as essay paper. You must keep at least some of these recommendations in mind. Also, keep track of the recommendations that have already been accepted and implemented.

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