Green panel moots changes in six laws

A high-level panel has suggested changes in six environmental laws to ensure these green statutes do not come in the way of new infrastructural projects as “development is an imperative.”

Headed by former Cabinet Secretary T S R Subramanian, the four-member panel on Tuesday submitted its report to Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, who described it as an “historic achievement.”

The legislation reviewed are 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 and the Indian Forest Act, 1927, which was not on the original terms of reference but was added later to the list.

The panel had run-in with environmentalists in a public consultation in Bangalore. It walked out of the meeting midway, describing the consultation as a “joke.” The review committee was set up because green laws were considered one of the biggest bottlenecks for developmental projects.

Submitting the report, Subramanian said he recommended ways to balance environment vis-a-vis developmental needs, besides reducing the “inspector raj” regarding to air and water pollution. The former cabinet secretary said he proposed a new law, whose details have not been disclosed.

A new national laboratory has been proposed, though what its function would be and why the same could not be achieved with existing laboratories has not been made public.

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