Report on green laws junked

The parliamentary committee finds force in view of experts

Updated - July 27, 2015 07:38 am IST

Published - July 27, 2015 12:00 am IST

The experts were against the recommendations of reviewing the role of the National Green Tribunal.

The experts were against the recommendations of reviewing the role of the National Green Tribunal.

The controversial High Level Committee report that reviewed the green laws in 2014 has been junked by a Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC). It found force in views of environmental experts who feared its implementation would result in unnecessary dilution of the existing legal architecture to protect environment.

The PSC on Science and Technology, chaired by Ashwani Kumar, rejected the recommendations made by the High Level Committee (HLC) headed by Former Cabinet Secretary TSR Subramanium.

The HLC was constituted by the Centre in September 2014 to review the Environment Protection Act, the Wildlife Protection Act, the Water Act, the Air Act, the Forest Act and suggest appropriate amendments.

The HLC, completing the task hurriedly in just three months, was itself a cause of concern for experts and stakeholders who said they were never consulted. The PSC report on rejection was tabled before the Rajya Sabha in the current monsoon session of the Parliament. It went to the Rajya Sabha on July 21 and to the Lok Sabha on July 22.

“…the Committee finds that objections raised by members of civil society/ NGOs/experts are prima facie valid and require serious reflection,” the PSC report said.

“Further, an impression should not be created that a Committee whose constitution and jurisdiction are itself in doubt, has been used to tinker with established policy,” it further said.

The Committee was also of the view that “the period of three months allotted to the High Level Committee for reviewing the six environmental Acts was too short and that there was no cogent reason for hurrying through with the Report without comprehensive, meaningful and wider consultations with all stakeholders.”

The PSC recommended that the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change that “instead of proceeding with the implementation of the recommendations contained in the High Level Committee Report, should give due consideration to the views/opinion and objections raised by stakeholders including environmental experts.”

In December, The Hindu had in December reported that environment lawyers were questioning the very constitution of the HLC.

Environment lawyer Ritwick Dutta who had objected to the HLC and also appeared before it termed the PSC rejection of it as “a step in the right direction”. The PCS has received 43 letters/ representations on the HLC report.

The experts are against the recommendations of reviewing the role of the National Green Tribunal.

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