Effective public service delivery through innovative governance knowledge exchange
Effective public service delivery through innovative governance knowledge exchange
Renewing the National Environment Policy
To bring in an updated version of the National Environment Policy by next year, the Government of India has sent reminders to certain state governments and central ministries for timely action.

"The policy has not been renewed as some of the ministries have not yet given their responses on its implementation.

"We are sending them reminders and would try to come up with its renewed and updated version by early next year," an environment ministry official said requesting anonymity.

The NEP was formulated by the Union Cabinet in 2006 to act as a ready reckoner for guidelines to both centre and state-run environment conservation and pollution control bodies and could not be renewed for over an year.

Activists across the country have expressed their anguish over non-renewal of the key policy.

"The Policy helps government to decide on major issues like giving clearance on setting up of mining or environmental projects. But its absence poses a question mark on the government's efforts and causes great concern," said Ajay Dubey, an environmentalist.

Another eminent environment activist Proloy Bagchi said, "Environment policy is essential. It should be upgraded and reviewed to check many critical environmental issues like sand mining and industrial pollution."

Bagchi said the NEP plays an important role in ensuring proper utilisation of natural resources and conservation of environment. The NEP was the outcome of extensive consultations with experts in different disciplines, central ministries, MPs, state governments, industry associations, academic and research institutions, civil society, NGOs and the public.

"As the policy outlines a significant number of new and continuing initiatives for enhancing environmental conservation, a formal, periodic high-level review of implementation of different elements of the National Environment Policy is essential.

"This would enhance accountability of the different public agencies responsible for implementation...Accordingly, the Cabinet or a nominated Committee of the Cabinet may be requested to review the implementation of the National Environment Policy, once a year, within three months from the close of the previous fiscal year," the NEP 2006 document said.

"The findings of the review should be publicly disclosed so that stakeholders are assured of the seriousness of the Government in ensuring implementation of the policy," it said.

The Environment Ministry is also required to undertake consultations every three years with groups of diverse stakeholders.

"In the third of the three-year reviews, undertake a more comprehensive examination of the scientific and policy understanding of environmental issues, redefine the objectives and principles, and recast the strategic themes for action. A new National Environment Policy should be the outcome," the policy said.

"It is sad that nothing is being done on it. At a time when environmental issues are of prime concerns for the world, the Environment Ministry's silence is worrying," Dubey added.  

Source: Deccan Herald