This article is written by Dipshi Swara, Senior Associate and Legal Editor, LawSikho.
The industries, pharmaceuticals and other manufacturing units while carrying out their process of manufacturing not only utilise their raw materials from the environment but also the output of the whole process releases emissions that cause severe environmental pollution. The environmental pollution or harm caused by these emissions can be termed as an ‘externality’. This externality can only be internalised with the help of legal instruments. If there were no laws or regulations, the industries would only focus on carrying out their manufacturing process and achieve outputs. They wouldn’t care about its effect on the environment. Only with the legal instruments in place, do these industries set up treatment plants, carry proper disposals and remain responsible.
Legal instruments help in regulating standards related to abating environmental pollution. But these instruments are designed keeping in mind that the standards include economic premises and are cost-effective to be followed. This article would critically analyse the legal instruments that are designed to curb environmental pollution in India and address their shortcomings.
The Indian Penal Code, 1860
Chapter XIV of the Code talks of ‘offences affecting the public health, safety, convenience, decency and morals’. There are certain sections in the IPC that are applicable to the cases of environmental pollution. Some of them are described as follows:
- The very first section of this chapter mentions ‘public nuisance’ as any act or omission which causes an injury, danger, annoyance to the public or to anyone who dwells or occupies property in the surrounding area.
- Section 269 and 270 of the code talk about any act which a person knows or has reason to believe that could spread infection or disease would be punishable under the two sections. Section 269 describes the punishment for a negligent act whereas section 270 describes the punishment for a malignant or a malicious act.
- Section 272 makes adulteration of food or drink punishable
- Section 277 and 278 make corrupting water of public use and poisoning the atmosphere punishable respectively. This is because adulteration of food, contamination, or fouling of air and water affect public health, people’s day to day business, and neighbourhood.
- Section 284, 285, and 286 are of much relevance in the context of our discussion. They mention that whoever dealing in any poisonous substance (Section 284), fire or combustible matter (Section 285) and explosive substance (Section 286) negligently does or omits to do anything that causes the release of these substances and harms or endangers human life shall be convicted under these sections.
Environmental cases are often described as public nuisances. The doctrine of negligence is applied to environmental cases since it is perceived that even a negligent act that causes harm and danger to human life, animals, atmosphere, etc. must be brought to action and the doer must pay for his failure or omission of his duties. Therefore, the above sections hold relevance in the court of law while deciding cases of environmental pollution.
The Constitution of India
The subject areas related to the environment are distributed amongst all the three lists of our Constitution, i.e. Union List, State List and Concurrent List. Environment Protection is not guaranteed as a fundamental or enforceable right in our Constitution. The mentioning of environment and environmental protection has been done in the Directive Principles of State Policy that too only in 1976 by the Forty Second Amendment Act with the insertion of Article 48A and Article 51A. While Article 48A puts an obligation on the state to protect and improve the environment, on the other hand, Article 51A mentions protecting the natural environment as a Fundamental Duty. However, by later judicial precedents, what we refer to as judicial activism, the environment has indeed been interpreted and recognized as a right under Article 21.
Environmental Legislations in India
One of the oldest environmental legislation in India is the Indian Forests Act, 1927 that was obviously enacted before independence. Other than this, there are several other legislations that were enacted in the initial years after India’s independence, like:
- The Factories Act, 1948,
- The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954,
- The River Boards Act, 1956,
- The Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act, 1957,
- The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958,
- The Atomic Energy Act, 1962,
- The Insecticides Act, 1968.
These legislations however cannot be said to be carrying the environmentally friendly international principles as they were enacted before the world began talking about environmental concerns seriously and thereby emerged the economically and environmentally efficient principles. Secondly, for a newly independent state that wanted to develop and provide a good standard of living to its people, the focus on economic policy was more on economic growth, economic development, employment generation, and equity. Environmental considerations were at the bottom of the list. For instance, the Factories Act, 1948 provided for treatment of waste during the manufacturing process but it was more focused on employment and industrialization.
It was only after the world met at the international platform of Stockholm Conference that the Indian legislation became more environmentally friendly and adopted international standards of economic analysis in order to formulate environmental guidelines. Even the Judiciary became active with interpreting laws in favour of environmental protection and that is why it is said that most of the environmental principles in India have been developed through court decisions. Even the earlier talk about Constitutional amendment with respect to protection and improvement of the environment came after the Stockholm conference, i.e. in 1976. In the present scenario, India has a few environmentally friendly legislations which have been designed to protect, improve the environment and convict the offenders.
The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
Keeping the mandate of the Directive Principle of State Policy, the incumbent Act seeks to protect the wildlife which includes wild animals, birds and plants. The Act empowers the Central and State Governments to declare specified areas like national parks or sanctuaries, it prohibits and penalises hunting (with certain exceptions), protects endangered species, promotes habitat protection by more cultivation and recognition of protected and closed animal zones. A shortcoming of the Act is that it provides for mild penalties and punishments.
The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 (hereinafter referred to as the Water Act) aims to prevent and control water pollution, thereby maintaining the quality of water resources and restoring/ improving aquatic life.
- The Act prohibits the discharge of sewage, waste, and effluents into water bodies on which public life is dependent like lakes, reservoirs, etc.
- The Act creates Central Pollution Control Board and State Pollution Control Board to implement the provisions, regulate and intervene in any activity violating the provisions, carry out cleanliness programmes of water bodies like streams, wells, lakes and release notifications under the Act to protect water resources and abate water pollution.
- The Act provides penalty and imprisonment from not less than one year and six months to six years.
- The definition of ‘pollution’ provided by the Act is noteworthy. It defines pollution as any contamination of water or alteration of its properties by the discharge of any harmful or poisonous substance including sewage or effluent that creates a nuisance or injury or harm to public health, aquatic life and prohibits legitimate use and consumption of water. The definition assures that the pollution caused by the industrial and trade activities fall well within the ambit of water pollution so that they adopt cleaner technologies and carry out efficient treatment of trade effluents before discharge, failing which the Act presupposes the fault and imposes strict liability for environmental pollution.
- The Boards constituted under this Act have been granted certain powers and functions which are extremely important for the successful implementation of this law. They are supposed to lay down, add or omit regular standards for reducing and remedying water pollution. In order to keep up with the economic standards, proper valuation is required. To achieve that, the boards have the duty to collect, compile and publish technical and statistical data relating to water pollution. Based on these data, they devise preventive measures and regulatory standards relating to the treatment and disposal of sewage and trade effluents.
- These provisions reflect the importance of research and analysis in pollution laws. Their function is to evolve economical and reliable methods of treatment of waste disposal. For this reason, the boards are allowed under the Act to periodically release notifications for upgrading the standards, eradicating obsolete standards and adopting new techniques.
However, the Act is not a perfect piece of legislation and suffers from a few flaws. The same is being highlighted hereunder. These flaws interfere with the economic efficiency of the legal instruments in the following ways:
- Groundwater is the main source of drinking water in India and the Water Pollution Act to our surprise does not talk about groundwater contamination.
- Municipalities in every city have the primary responsibility for treating residential wastes. While the Act mentions provisions related to it, ironically leaves the Municipalities free from direct liability. We have seen how imposing liability remains an important economic factor to reduce pollution. It gives a sense of control and assures the fulfilment of obligations. But since municipalities remain free from direct liability, it gives a setback to the efficiency of the provision related to residential waste.
- Along with liability, stringent safety standards must be prescribed failing which makes the doer a defaulter automatically. But the Act provides real flexibility to government services. If the head of a polluting unit proves that the offence was committed without his knowledge or irrespective of his due diligence, he would not be punished.
- The victims have a locus standi but the Act fails to recognise this. Charges on manufacturing units can be brought by the Boards and not the victims.
- Penalties should be determined from case to case basis depending upon the scale of harm done, the number of people affected, and the extent to which environmental damage has been done. These take economic principles in view while determining the same. But the penalties here are pre-determined which can provide the manufacturing units with a lot of room to be careless with the prescribed standards.
- Lastly, the Boards have some major functions to be performed under the Act. Therefore, they should be funded well not just for implementation of the provisions of the Act but also for research and development.
Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980
The Act was enacted to protect the forest and biodiversity of the country by preventing deforestation. The Act emphasizes afforestation and conservation. The Act allows for diversion of forest areas for non-forest use in development needs such as laying down roads or railways, the building of dams for water and electricity, defence or mining projects. And rehabilitation is a must in all these cases. This is a perfect example of enacting a law with a sustainable development approach. Protecting forests go hand in hand with the utilisation of forests for development projects but only with the nod of the government agencies.
The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981
The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 (hereinafter referred to as the Air Act) recognised the principles enunciated in the Stockholm conference and contained provisions related to the preservation of quality of air and control of air pollution. It defines ‘air pollution’ as the presence of any hazardous substance in any form that can be harmful or injurious to human health, living creatures, and the environment. Similar to the Water Pollution Act, this Act too provides for the constitution of Central and State Boards and gives them certain powers and functions. The Central Board has to lay down standards for the quality of air. The State Board has the power to prohibit operation, to close down or regulate the industry in case of any violation of rules.
The other powers and functions of the Boards are not being discussed again since they are very similar to that of the Water Act, 1980, based on similar principles. The Act provides penalty and imprisonment from not less than one year and six months to six years. The Act continues to suffer from more or less the same flaws as in the Water Act such as predetermined meagre penalties, officials exempted from liability if due diligence proved, victims unable to sue the polluting industries. These shortcomings do interfere with the remedying of air pollution.
The Environment Protection Act, 1986
Another Act that reflects the principles enunciated in the Stockholm conference is the Environmental Protection Act 1986. It is also to be pointed out that the Act came into existence in the wake of the disaster created by the Bhopal Tragedy case. The Act covers environmental quality, increasing pollution, loss of vegetative cover, declining biological diversity, contamination of air and water with poisonous substances and chemicals, instances of environmental hazards, and accidents that affect public health. Since the Act focuses on the protection of the overall environment and not just air and water, it is, therefore, more of a wholesome piece of legislation and currently the most important Environmental legislation of our country.
- The Act defines ‘environment’. It includes “water, air and land and the interrelationship which exists among and between water, air and land, and human beings, along with other living creatures, plants, micro-organism and property.” The definition of pollution appears to be comprehensive except that it should have been more exhaustive in its approach and should have also included pollution caused due to heat, sound, heat energy, atomic or nuclear energy, radiations, deforestation and development which is not in coherence with the principle of environmental protection and sustainable development.
- The Act provides the Central Government with substantial powers and functions including laying down of standards for determining environmental quality, prescribing maximum allowable limits of pollutants discharge, providing procedures and safeguards for preventing any environmental accidents, and in case of an environmental accident, provides remedial measures. In exercise of the powers given under this Act, the Government releases several Rules to be followed for abating all types of environmental pollution. A few of the Rules enacted under the powers of this Act are:
- The Environment Protection Rules, 1986,
- Hazardous Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules,1989,
- Manufacture, Storage, and Import of Hazardous Chemicals, Rules, 1989,
- Chemical Accident (Emergency Planning, Preparedness, and Response) Rules, 1996,
- Bio-medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998,
- The Recycled Plastics Manufacture and Usage (Amendment) Rules, 1999,
The Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000,
- The Hazardous Wastes (Management and Handling) Amendment Rules (2003,2008),
- The Ozone Depleting Substances (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000,
- The Batteries (Management and Handling) Rules, 2001,
- The Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) (Amendment) Rules, 2002,
- The Recycled Plastics Manufacture and Usage (Amendment) Rules, 2003,
- Bio-Medical Waste (Management and Handling) (Amendment) Rules, 2003,
- Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2003,
- Biological Diversity Rules, 2003.
These Rules prescribe certain requirements that have to be followed up by the manufacturers and the industries, failing which they will be charged with degrading the environment and causing pollution. For instance, in accordance with the Environment Protection Rules, 1986, the firms have to submit environmental statements and audits that they are operating as per the provisions of the Water Act, Air Act, and authorization under Hazardous Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules. This requirement has been a mandatory one since 1992. The Rules help in making the provisions of the Environmental legislations more stringent and practicable to follow. They, therefore, strengthen the efficiency of the environmental legislation of India.
The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991
Liability is an important factor that goes on to make environmental standards stringent and stable. Liability aids in internalizing pollution as an externality. The Lawmakers understood the importance of the same mostly after the Bhopal Tragedy case. A case that remained controversial since the very beginning and could not be brought to justice in its entirety due to its vast scale of destruction and the non-availability of efficient environmental standards. Public Liability Insurance Act recognises that some environmental damages can be of humongous nature and there should be economically analysed provisions that can deal with those situations effectively and can help to restore the environment and the victims to their earlier position. The relevant features of the Act are discussed briefly:
- First and foremost, the Act covers every industry, public or private, which handles hazardous substances without any exception. The exhaustive nature of this Act is an inclusive step towards remedying environmental pollution.
- The Act also specifies that any outbreak of a hazardous substance that can be predicted or even if it is sudden irrespective of the intention would be referred to as an accident. Another clarity it provides with respect to the term handling is that it would include manufacturing, processing, treatment, package, storage, transportation, use, collections, destruction, conversion, etc. and so the wrong-doers cannot defend themselves on any of these technical grounds.
- The Act provides for ‘mandatory insurance.’ The insurance against the liability is important as it guarantees that in case of an accident, the victims are provided with immediate relief. The owner must take these insurance policies before he engages in the business of handling hazardous substances.
- One of the most important principles incorporated by the Act is the ‘no-fault’ liability standard. The no-fault liability as appears from the name makes the defendant liable for accidental injuries caused even if it is without any intention or negligence on his part.
- Principles like no-fault liability determine absolute duty on the owner or in charge of the industrial unit to take ownership of mistakes in case of death, injury, or harm caused to a person or property. The burden of paying compensation lies on him. However, the same should not exceed the paying capacity of the owner.
- The Act has mentioned some strict penalties which for the defaulting party should not be less than Rs. 1 lakh fine and up to 7-year imprisonment.
- The Act provides for the constitution of the Environment Relief Fund which shall be utilised to pay immediate relief to the victims in case the money from the wrongdoer’s insurance is not sufficient to pay the compensation. The insurer shall later credit the amount to the relief fund. The idea of this relief fund is based on the polluter pays principle and somewhat follows the American model of Super Fund for environment protection used for cleaning operations of pollution.
- Unlike the Water Act and the Air Act, people who have suffered from accidental harms can frame charges against the wrongdoer under this Act.
The Public Insurance Liabilities Act simply internalizes pollution from being an externality. The Act has recognised and established several economically efficient principles such as absolute liability, rule of negligence, and strict liability and has been interpreted widely by the Supreme Court in order to provide relief and compensation to victims of environmental hazards. Since the provisions allow to sue companies as well for offences, the Act very well recognizes the principle of corporate criminal liability as well. Government heads are not immune if they commit any offence under the Act. The Act, therefore, culminates all important principles that are important to determine liability and award compensation in environmental harm cases.
- First, the Act focuses on social welfare and socio-economic aspects rather than private interests.
- Secondly, it is a comprehensive piece of legislation and demonstrates how the combination of economic principles, costs, and environmental protection can together help in remedying environmental pollution.
- Thirdly, the principles like negligence, strict liability and absolute liability make a person careful towards his own conduct so that it does not cause any harm to others. Richard Posner in his work ‘A Theory of Negligence (1972)’ says that negligence, strict liability can be analysed solely in terms of economic efficiency. If the act of the party causes less harm and brings more value, it would not amount to negligence and hence he would not be liable but in the opposite scenario wherein the harm caused is more and value obtained is less, the liability is his.
- Fourthly, the provisions somewhat act as a deterrence theory wherein since the wrong-doer is made to pay all costs and compensation, it makes him warrier and therefore reduces the chances of accidents and harm.
The article has already discussed the revolution brought by the Act to the arena of environment protection. It has created new horizons of hazardous liability and can therefore be said to be a good example of an economically efficient piece of environmental legal instrument. However, there exist certain loopholes in the Act that can be looked into by lawmakers in order to increase the efficiency of the Act further. Few flaws highlighted are:
- The schedule attached to the Act mentions how to measure the compensation. The measure of compensation can prove to be less in large environmental hazard cases. Therefore, it can be modified.
- The Collector is made in charge of awarding relief on the application of the affected people. This can cause long delays since the collector is already endowed with his duties pertaining to land revenue and the other matters of the district. Also, there is a lack of technical know-how as to how these matters should be adjudicated by a specific tribunal instead.
- Few provisions provide safeguard to state interests by mentioning that the government by notification can exclude liability of central and state governments, the corporations owned by both of them, and even local authority.
- The Act casts no obligation on insurance companies to affect the insurance. This is strange especially because insurance is owned by states.
- Finally, workman compensation is not provided under this Act. It is left to be dealt with by labour laws.
The National Environment Tribunal Act, 1995
The Act incorporates the decisions taken at the 1992 Rio conference which called states to establish domestic laws and compensatory regulations for victims of environmental pollution. The preamble of the Act mentions that the Act provides strict liability for damages caused due to accidents while handling hazardous wastes. One of the important features of the Act is that it recognizes the need for speedy and effective disposal of environmental hazard cases since the victims are in urgent need of treatment and restoration. Any delay in providing relief and compensation to them would amount to a continuous increase in their pain and harm. Therefore, the constitution of the special tribunal will fulfill the purpose of this Act and is also an extension of the economic efficiency of liability regulations.
Inter-relation between the Public Liabilities Insurance Act (PLIA) and the National Environment Tribunal Act (NETA)
Both the Acts have a dependent relationship with each other. We are aware that both the Acts aim towards environmental protection and address the mechanism of relief and compensation for victims. In doing so, they have gone on to strengthen the environmental jurisprudence and environmental precedents in India. The interrelationship between the two Acts will be discussed as follows:
- NETA, which was enacted after the PLIA, relies on the latter for the definition of ‘hazardous substances, handling, and accidents.’
- NETA on the lines of PLIA also excludes workmen from its ambit and rejects the admission of claim five years after the occurrence of the accident.
- The NETA imposes liability for no-fault and provides for strict liability in case of an accident that goes on to harm health, property, or the environment. The liability comes with payment of compensation as adjudicated by the tribunal under the NETA. The amount is remitted in the Environment Relief Fund that is constituted under the PLIA and accordingly utilised in payment of compensation and restoration of the environment.
- It differs from PLIA on the front that PLIA puts a limit on the payment of compensation. As per section 8 of PLIA, the amount of compensation must not exceed the paying capacity of the owner of the industrial/ manufacturing unit. NETA does away with such limitations and encourages the payment of hefty sums for compensation and restoration.
- An aggrieved person who approaches the Collector under PLIA can still go to the tribunal constituted under NETA. The tribunal shall grant the person relief taking into consideration the sum secured under PLIA. Both the tribunal under NETA and the collector under PLIA have the same powers.
- The regulatory standard that provides an edge to NETA is the presence of technical/ environmental experts on the bench of the tribunal and recognition of speedy trials in order to provide quick relief to the victims. Although it cannot be denied that PLIA also stands for providing immediate relief to victims.
The above discussion brings us to a point that both PLIA and NETA together function towards protecting the environment. They strengthen the functioning and the utilisation of the Environment Relief Fund. They establish the economic efficient principles of internalising environmental pollution like strict liability, no-fault liability, payment of compensation, etc. Their implementation together is very effective in bringing relief to the victims of industrial accidents.
Implementation of the legal instruments
The Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), the topmost body for environmental protection in India is the executive agency that carries on the implementation of the environmental legislation. The MoEF also designs frameworks, comes up with policies, releases notifications for continuous evolution in the field of environmental protection. As the environmental instruments and the nature of legal instruments have already been discussed above, it can be pointed out that the Indian laws are implemented through a combination of both ‘command and control model’ as well as ‘standard and regulation model’ accompanied by environmental principles, government tax regimes, fiscal and other benefits. One example of a voluntary regulation is the obtaining of an environmental finely certificate by labelling a product ‘ECOMARK’ if it is manufactured complying with all the environmental standards, ensuring minimum damage to the environment, remedying environmental pollution during the course, and proper disposal method. This label was brought up by the MoEF in 1991.
Pollution control boards and their working mechanism
When it comes to pollution control, the bodies for monitoring and implementing laws are the Central Pollution Control Board and the State Pollution Control Boards. In accordance with the provisions of the Air Act and the Water Act, the primary thing done by these Boards is laying down ambient standards for air and water quality. The Boards monitor that these standards are followed stringently be it industrial units or vehicles running on the road. The purpose is to achieve the macro goals of environmental protection policy by the micro operational nature of the laws. In order for this to work, it is important that the Boards carry out the valuation of damage by pollution and laying down which standard of quality would help in the reduction of this damage thereby creating an acceptable, healthy environment. Therefore, the CPCB carries research and studies undertaken by technical institutions to determine a proper estimate of the costs involved and technologies to be used.
The role of these Boards becomes more prominent in order to assure compliance which can only be brought by effective monitoring. The Environment Protection Rules, 1986 has laid down the relevant parameters of the standard of air and water quality in Schedule VI. These standards can be enforced only if the State Boards assure that the water is treated with the state of the art technology, reduce the emission of waste to its minimum, monitor proper disposal of waste by allotting maximum allowable limit, and track the technologies being used by the units or the automobiles towards minimising pollution. The CPCB and SPCB assess the Environmental Audit Report submitted by these industries. The Boards have to examine the proper implementation of regulations and economic efficiency while assessing these reports.
In India, the standards laid down for abating pollution also included restricting activities like operation of industries, relocating some operations, etc. happen area or city or state-wise. This is because the atmosphere and water quality varies across such a large hemisphere and therefore establishing one kind of standard for the whole country would be unjustified and would not yield any favourable result. The CPCB and the SPCB’s ensure compliance at all costs. They have classified industries in the Red, Orange, and Green zone depending on the nature of production for convenient regulation. Granting of fiscal benefits, low tax on the purchase of a few resources, accelerated depreciation costs have only given more encouragement to industries to run pollution abatement models effectively.
The Board’s duty to periodically monitor and examine these units do not only ensure implementation of laws but also imposing penalties for non-compliance during examination wherein the cost of the penalty is more than compliance costs pressurizes manufacturers to comply with the standards. It is usually said in the environmental context in India that legislation is effective but the implementation is poor. There is a very low conviction rate in environmental criminal cases such as killing animals or destroying wildlife. On the industrial front, there are a lot of industrial units especially in states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar which still operate without getting their licences renewed or without updating their standards according to prescribed notifications. They need to be conscious that it is a matter of right and understand the socio-economic rationale behind the regulations and make sure effective implementation is done.
The article has indicated the different environmental legislations and standards available in India. It is noteworthy that environmental instruments before the 1980s were not very effective. Perhaps it was because the subject was in an evolving stage. Also, regulations were mostly just a framework of legal provisions and therefore the outcome was not very effective. Due to the inefficiency of the instruments or the non-compliance because of lack of economic and liability provisions, the deterioration of the environment was at an alarming rate. Instances of the Bhopal gas tragedy or oleum gas leak case made these even more prominent in the eyes of the Judiciary. Thus evolved a new era of environmental legislations aiming towards being more comprehensive, economically efficient, and wholesome. However, in spite of some strong laws in place, the problem that India faces is the enforcement and proper implementation of these laws. Some of the pertaining issues are discussed briefly.
- In order to abate pollution, it is important that the enforcement authorities have a quantified set of information regarding pollution activities in their areas. However, there is usually a lack of authentic data and information due to less allotment of funds in research and development.
- Lack of economic instruments to assess the impact and damage on the environment. Also, for periodical monitoring, the boards require money to carry out an effective examination, inspection, sampling by laboratories, in cases where show cause notice is filed against units, the Board needs to bear litigation expenses. They usually cite lack of funds and less availability of technical expertise for inefficiency in these.
- Few laws exempt governmental agencies from any charges by releasing a notification. These can encourage non-performance of duties and lead to failure of enforcement standards. And for whatever matters reach courts, the delay in dispute settlement gives an edge to polluters to continue with their unregulated activities. This is because if the state governments apply for an injunction to stop the activities of the units, there is fear of unemployment and loss of trade and economy. This happens because SPCB’s who have, although been granted power under the legislations still depend on the state governments for funds and financial support.
- There is still not much technical expertise in India when it comes to doing valuation of environmental problems and implementation of the internalization theory. We need to come up with more and more of such specific education and training programs so that our enforcement can be done in an economically efficient manner.
- The issue of inequitable horizontal treatment of industrial units due to different penalties and consent fees imposed by different state boards persists.
- The existence of political interests in the board of industrial units in India, lethargic exercise of authority by administrators, prevailing corruption amongst administrative officers, ineffective system of accountability towards government can be some other reasons for the failure of these enforcement standards.
An environmental policy is interdisciplinary in nature and therefore it brings laws, technology, economics, nature, and social aspects together. Although the laws enacted in India are quite stringent, there has always been a concern about their effective implementation on the ground level. Technical knowledge, international acceptance, and economic costs are mandatory tools if we want to improve the implementation of environmental policies in India.
The subject of ‘environmental pollution’ must be entered in the concurrent list of the Indian Constitution referring to all forms of hazards and pollution to the environment, human life, flora, fauna, and property. This would give both the State and the Centre to come up with strict and pollution-specific regulations. Right to Environment although interpreted by the Supreme Court is still not included as a constitutional right. It can be done to keep up with the spirit of sustainable development. Most importantly, India needs to strengthen its implementation and enforcement mechanism by granting proper financial aid to the CPCB and the SPCB since the failure, inefficiency, and lack of expertise within these bodies lead to poor implementation of the otherwise comprehensive regulations.
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