Environmental Laws

Critically comment what should be government’s priority – to ensure ease of doing business or protecting environment and biodiversity? And explain why. (200 Words)

In a bid to boost the ease of doing business and eventually attract more investment, GoI appears to be in process of tweaking the entire regulatory regime put in place to prevent abuse of environment and rights of forest based communities:
  1. Self-certification based regulatory mechanism in place of certification from pollution control boards.
  2. Administrative tribunal instead of judicial NGT to review clearance on appeal.
  3. Fast track clearance for power, mining and lining projects.
  4. Doing away with veto power of Gram Sabha over forest lands.
  5. Confine “No Go Area” to only very dense forests having canopy cover of 70%.
Concerns:
  1. Self-certification has a wide scope for misuse by industries.
  2. Diluting NGT will only loosen enforcement of environmental laws;
  3. Fast tracking project clearance turning a blind eye to environmental aspects will invite disasters; as seen Uttarakhand tragedy.
  4. Diluting powers of Gram Sabha & tribal communities goes against grass root democracy; will also encourage Naxalite like movements in concerned regions.
  5. Reducing “No go areas” to 70% canopy cover will lead to further degradation of already shrinking forest covers.
Country’s growth should not come at the cost of environment and indigenous communities; it is essential to balance the development and environment concerns; any development oriented regulatory regime should satisfy environmental mandate of present times.