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Environmental Laws in India

The need for the existence of environmental laws and their strict implementation is paramount for conservation and protection of the environment including the wildlife. India’s Constitution clearly stipulates that under Part IV (Article 48-A, Directive Principles of the State Policy) the State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and safeguard the wildlife of the country.

Furthermore, the Constitution under Part IV-A (Article 51-A, Fundamental Duties) casts a duty upon the citizens of India to preserve and improve the natural environment of the land. In addition to this, India has made several international commitments and signed treaties with regard to protection of the environment which it must uphold and honour.
One of the most important bodies of the Government of India that deals environmental protection is the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) which came into force in 1985 after the prominent Stockholm Conference,1972. MoEF is concerned  with regulating and preserving the natural environment and legislating on the legal and regulatory framework for the same. The Ministry of Environment and Forests along with the Pollution Control Board form the administrative crux of this sector.
Some landmark legislations adopted for environmental protection are as follows:
  • The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
  • The Environment Protection Act, 1986
  • The Hazardous Waste Management Regulations
  • The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010

Even though India has made significant progress in improving the environmental conditions, there are still some obstacles that it is yet to overcome. In the recent report composed by a committee of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change reviewed six of India’s major environmental laws. The Centre for Policy Research submitted its analysis of the report to the committee, highlighting some of the key issues and problems of that report that needed urgent redressal. 
The report analysis highlighted the ambiguity of some of the laws  that needed to be addressed. It brought into light the need for speedy approvals of environment related laws and amendments. Furthermore,  it laid huge emphasis on laying the foundations for technology aided speedy and accountable decision making process for project approvals.
It can be concluded that even though the environmental sector has advanced and secured a vital position in the global as well as Indian contexts, many more improvements and reforms are yet to be made to receive positive environmental outputs in a larger sense rather than being led by the approach that environmental progression may hurt the socio-economic system.

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