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Needed, a holistic development of habitat

Last Updated : 08 April 2015, 16:20 IST
Last Updated : 08 April 2015, 16:20 IST
Last Updated : 08 April 2015, 16:20 IST
Last Updated : 08 April 2015, 16:20 IST

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At a time when the ruling dispensation is focusing on economic development by bringing changes in the law, rules and regulations, the environmental issues se­em to have been put on the backburner.

Ironically, this economic development com­es at the cost of the env­­iron-­ment, prompting the query – do environmental regulations in India need reform?
“The problem is not regulations but the compliance of the law and the regulations,” Anant Sudarshan, India director, Energy Policy Institute at Chicago University, said.

“Considering the rising level of air pollution, one might think that the regulations are light. But it isn’t the case as problem lies in the compliance of these regulations.”

Sudarshan, was one of the panelists of the recently held ‘Green Signal or Red Light’ debate on the book ‘Green Signals - Ecology, growth and democracy in India’ written by former environment minister Jairam Ramesh.

“In 1991 we needed economic regulations. Similarly, we need environmental regulation at this hour. We do have a structural reform but we aren’t getting any closer to it. Importantly, what does effective environmental regulation look like where compliance is very poor”, questioned Sudarshan. 

However, Shyam Divan, senior advocate, Supreme Court, taking the discussion to the ground level felt that as a nation we had failed to have a single environment related institute that could envision the challenges at the country and global level.

“We have pollution control board which has been dysfunctional for years. They exist but they don’t contribute to anything,” said Divan, hinting at the need for a regulatory body, just like Chief Election Commissioner, Comptroller Auditor General or Supreme Court, for environmental issues.

“We need an environmental protector at constitution level which can envision what the country needs on the environmental front,” said Divan.

Jairam Ramesh, on the other hand, clarified that the country is wrestling with the issue of ‘development economy’ which is about rapid, inclusive and sustainable growth. “There is no team of economist versus environmentalist. Therefore, environment regulations and reforms will be a big debate which will gather momentum in the coming time,” said Ramesh.

On the other hand Tejpreet Singh Chopra, president and CEO, Bharat Light and Power emphasised that the situation will get worse in future. “By 2020, India will have a population of 1.75 billion with three-fold rise in the middle class section, which means the consumption of energy will increase. Now, one can estimate that impact on env­-
ironment. Politicians will have to make a difficult choice. But we want  the development of industries, ensuring compliance to drive the change. But who is going to pay for all these changes, is the important question?” said Chopra.

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Published 08 April 2015, 16:20 IST

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