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Beneficial lessons

POLLUTION CONTROL IN THE SOUTH AND NORTH: A COMPARATIVE ASSESSMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY APPROACHES IN INDIA AND THE NETHERLANDS·O J Kuik, M V Nadkarni, F H Oosterhuis, G S Sastry and A E Akkerman·Sage Publications·Rs 350

 
By Sharmila Chandra
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

-- one of the pressing issues of this century is the ways and means to combat rampant pollution. Every country has formulated different policies to control the environmental damage. The book, Pollution Control in the South and North; A Comparative Assessment of Environmental Policy Approaches in India and the Netherlands, is an attempt to comparatively assess the environmental policy formulations of India and the Netherlands. The book seeks to identify the differences as well as the similarities in the approaches of the two countries to tackle pollution problems. Karnataka in India and the whole of the Netherlands are the geographical areas taken up for the study.

The book is 21st in the series sponsored under the Indo-Dutch Programme on Alternatives in Development ( idpad ) a programme designed towards sharing of experiences in development research between the two countries. Even though India is still a developing country and the Netherlands has reached the post-industrial stage, the authors have come up with some valid and viable suggestions. The Indian authors are from the Institute of Social and Economic Change, Bangalore, and the Dutch authors are associated with the Institute of Environmental Studies, Vrije University, Amsterdam.

The book begins with a general introduction on the theory and practice of environmental policies and focuses on its relationship with the economic policies in the developing and the industrialised countries. The first part takes an international perspective on the main trends in environmental policy making. It argues that since ecological concerns differ from one nation to the other, no single type of instrument in environmental policy can be desirable by all. It, however, gives a framework to help in the choice of these instruments.

The second part of the book elucidates the environmental problems and policy approaches in the two countries. It deals with the environmental policies being followed by the two countries up till now and analyses their historical development and the specific problems due to pollution faced by each country. It traces India's pollution problems to 1853, when the Shore Nuisance (Bombay and Kolaba) Act was passed, while the Netherlands enacted the Nuisance Act in 1875 to protect against dangers from industrial activities. The authors have conducted some meaningful and telling case studies in the cement, fertiliser and textile industries.

The third and the last part of the book deals with the similarities and differences in the effectiveness of policy instruments in the two countries. Lessons must be leant from each other's experiences and suggestions to incorporate improvement in the present policies.

The case studies reveal that there is much less concern for pollution in India as compared to the Netherlands. In India, the budget and manpower to combat pollution is lesser than in the Netherlands. Also, there is a neglect of small scale industries which are a major cause for pollution in India. Both countries depend on direct regulation and apply a combination of emission and design standards. The Dutch offer better economic incentives and are therefore more effective in pollution control. The growth of public interest litigations ( pil s) in India and the positive involvement of the industry in the Netherlands are the strengths of the two countries.

The book says that the inadequate resources of Pollution Control Boards ( pcb s) in India and abandoning of costly measures for reasons of international competitiveness in the Netherlands are the weaknesses. The book calls for a better enforcement and monitoring system and the introduction of new environmental taxes to support the pcb s in India and increase in the frequency of checks and inspections in the Netherlands.

The book should be a valuable study to policy makers, environmental lobbyists, environmental researches and even to the industry to bring about a change in the environment.

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