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SC questions delay in setting up environment regulator

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

SC questions delay in setting up environment regulator:


Context:

The Supreme Court has asked the government to explain why it had not set up an “independent environment regulator” to oversee green clearances.

Background of the case:

The Supreme court had ordered the setting up of a national environment regulatory body to ensure independent oversight of green clearances way back in July 2011 in Lafarge Umiam Mining Private Limited v. Union of India, commonly known as the ‘Lafarge mining case’.

About the proposed environmental regulator:

The regulator will be setup under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, with offices in as many states as possible.

Functions:

Carry out independent, objective and transparent appraisal and approval of projects for environmental clearances.

Monitor the implementation of the conditions laid down in the clearances and impose penalties on polluters.

Powers:

The regulator will ensure the National Forest Policy, 1988 is duly implemented.

Need for an independent regulator:

  1. The green bench of the SupremeCourt has been dealing with forest-related issues for almost two decades.
  2. The bench has experienced major problems with the way environment and forest clearances are granted.
  3. It has had to deal with poor Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) reports and bad decisions of the Forest Advisory Committee which recommends diversion of forestland for developmental projects.
  4. It has found conflict of interest in the way an EIA report is prepared and forest area is identified, demarcated and finally diverted for non-forest uses.

In the court’s view, therefore, an independent national regulator is the solution to the problem.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About the Environment Protection Act, 1986.
  2. Proposed Independent Environment Regulator.
  3. What is EIA?
  4. Lafarge mining case verdict.

Mains Link:

Discuss the need for an independent environment regulator.

Sources: the Hindu.