Six environmental laws to be amended soon

An ongoing conference in the capital to decide on changes in crucial environmental laws, as proposed by the Centre

By Anupam Chakravartty
Published: Tuesday 07 April 2015

The two-day conference will hold discussion on eco-sensitive zones like the Western Ghats among a host of other things  (Photo: Sunita Narain)

The Centre is likely to amend six crucial environmental laws to be tabled in the Parliament after the recess ends on April 23, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change said.

To this end, a two-day conference was inaugurated on Monday by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. At the meeting, state environment ministers, officials and experts discussed issues like forests, wildlife, pollution, biodiversity and climate change over three breakout sessions. Talks were also held on eco-sensitive zones and the Western Ghats.

After it ends, the ministry will finalise its recommendations, prepare a note and bring it before the cabinet so that the amended bills can be tabled in the second half of the Parliament session, environment minister Prakash Javadekar said.

The conference is part of the ongoing consultation with the states to improve the condition of environment and forests in the country, senior ministry officials told Down To Earth.

Changes in existing laws

Various news reports suggest that over 100 changes have been suggested by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to ensure the ease of doing business in India. According to the ministry, some of these changes call for a single clearance window to save time for various development projects like power infrastructure, defence installations and roads.

According to an environment ministry official, the government will also finalise the changes made in the Environment Impact Notification 2006 by suggesting standardised terms of references for industrial projects. The ministry will also finalise the issue of land banks that will be accessible to industries for compensatory afforestation.

‘India should lead the fight against climate change’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was presented with a copy of the annual tiger census and the national air pollution index during the inauguration of the conference.

Modi, in his address to state environment ministers, said India should lead the global fight against climate change. He added that the world should ease restrictions on India for importing nuclear fuel so that the country could produce clean energy in a big way. He said the government’s focus was on clean energy generation through solar radiation, wind and biomass.

About the six laws

The six laws related to environmental protection and wildlife are: The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986; The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980; The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972; Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974; Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and The Indian Forest Act, 1927.

In September 2014, a committee was formed under former cabinet secretary T S R Subramanian to suggest amendments   in the existing environmental and forest regulations. The government is also planning to discuss changes in the Coastal Regulation Zone.

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