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New Central Empowered Committee (CEC) for Environmental Issues


Source: The New Indian Express


Context: The Union Environment Ministry has established a new Central Empowered Committee (CEC) to replace an ad hoc expert panel with the same name that has been assisting the Supreme Court on forest and environmental issues since 2002.

  • This move has raised concerns about the committee’s independence under government control.


Under the new structure, the CEC will consist of a chairperson, a member secretary, and three expert members, all appointed by the Union government. The chairperson must have at least 25 years of experience in environmental, forestry, or wildlife fields or substantial administrative expertise in government, serving a maximum term of three years.


Need for restructuring:

  • The restructuring of the CEC comes following the passage of the Forest Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023, which some critics believe weakens existing safeguards in Indian forest law, potentially facilitating construction projects in ecologically sensitive regions.
  • This change in the committee’s composition has raised questions about its ability to function independently and issue impartial judgments, given that its members will now all be civil servants appointed by the government.