Environmental Policy in India – UPSC

In this article, You will read Environmental Policy & Environmental Policy in India – for UPSC IAS.

Environmental Policy

Environmental policy is the commitment of an organization to the laws, regulations, and other policy mechanisms concerning environmental issues. These issues generally include air and water pollution, waste management, ecosystem management, maintenance of biodiversity, the protection of natural resources, wildlife, and endangered species.

Concerning environmental policy, the importance of implementation of an eco-energy-oriented policy at a global level to address the issues of global warming and climate changes should be accentuated. Policies concerning energy or regulation of toxic substances including pesticides and many types of industrial waste are part of the topic of environmental policy.

This policy can be deliberately taken to direct and oversee human activities and thereby prevent harmful effects on the biophysical environment and natural resources, as well as to make sure that changes in the environment do not have harmful effects on humans.

It is useful to consider that environmental policy comprises two major terms: environment and policy.

  • Environment refers to the physical ecosystems, but can also take into consideration the social dimension (quality of life, health) and an economic dimension (resource management, biodiversity).
  • The policy can be defined as a “course of action or principle adopted or proposed by a government, party, business or individual”.

Thus, the environmental policy focuses on problems arising from human impact on the environment, which retroacts onto human society by having a (negative) impact on human values such as good health or the ‘clean and green’ environment.

Environmental policy refers to any course of actions that is deliberately take (or refrained from) to manage human activities to prevent or mitigate harmful effects on natural resources, the ecosystem or nature. In general, the environmental policy aims to ensure that man-made changes to the environment do not carry harmful effects on human beings or animal species.

The rationale for governmental involvement in the environment is market failure in the form of forces beyond the control of one person, including the free-rider problem and the tragedy of the commons.

An example of an externality is when a factory produces waste pollution which may be dumped into a river, ultimately contaminating water. The cost of such action is paid by society-at-large when they must clean the water before drinking it and is external to the costs of the factory.

The free-rider problem is when the private marginal cost of taking action to protect the environment is greater than the private marginal benefit, but the social marginal cost is less than the social marginal benefit. The tragedy of the commons is the problem that, because no one person owns the commons, each individual has an incentive to utilize common resources as much as possible. Without governmental involvement, the commons is overused. Examples of tragedies of the commons are overfishing and overgrazing.

Environmental policy instruments are tools used by governments to implement their environmental policies. Governments may use a number of different types of instruments. For example, economic incentives and market-based instruments such as taxes and tax exemptions, tradable permits, and fees can be very effective to encourage compliance with environmental policy.

Bilateral agreements between the government and private firms and commitments made by firms independent of government requirements are examples of voluntary environmental measures. Another instrument is the implementation of greener public purchasing programs.

Several instruments are sometimes combined in a policy mix to address a certain environmental problem. Since environmental issues have many aspects, several policy instruments may be needed to adequately address each one. Furthermore, a combination of different policies may give firms greater flexibility in policy compliance and reduce uncertainty as to the cost of such compliance.

Government policies must be carefully formulated so that the individual measures do not undermine one another, or create a rigid and cost-ineffective framework.

Overlapping policies result in unnecessary administrative costs, increasing the cost of implementation. To help governments realize their policy goals, the OECD Environment Directorate collects data on the efficiency and consequences of environmental policies implemented by the national governments. The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, through UNECE Environmental Performance Reviews, evaluates progress made by its member countries in improving their environmental policies.

Policy Principles for Environmental Protection

(A) The Polluter Pays Principle (PPP):

For the last two decades, many economists have suggested that firms discharging polluting effluents to the environment should somehow be made to pay a price for such discharges related to the amount of environmental damage caused. OECD has suggested the Polluter Pays Principle (PPP) as a general basis for the environmental policy. It states that if measures are adopted to reduce pollution, the costs should be borne by the polluters.

The OECD Council defines the Polluter Pays Principle thus. “The principle to be used for allocating costs of pollution prevention and control measures to encourage rational use of scarce environmental resources and to avoid distortions in international trade and investment is the so-called Polluter Pays Principle”. The essential concern of this principle is that polluters should bear the costs of abatement without subsidy.

The Polluter Pays Principle, as interpreted by the Supreme Court of India, means that the absolute liability for harm to the environment extends not only to compensate the victims of pollution but also the cost of restoring the environmental degradation. Thus, it includes environmental
costs as well as direct costs to people or property.

Remediation of the damaged environment is part of the process of sustainable development and as such the polluter is liable to pay the cost to the individual sufferers as well as the costs of reversing the damaged ecology. The application of this principle depends upon the interpretations, particular cases and situations. This principle has brought more controversial discussions during the Rio Earth Summit 1992.

The South has demanded more financial assistance from the North in combating the environmental degradation in the South. There are practical an implication on the allocation of economic obligations in relation to environmentally damaging activities, particularly in relation to liability and the use of economic instruments.

(B) The User Pays Principle—(UPP):

It is considered as a part of the PPP. The principle states that all resource users should pay for the full long run marginal cost of the use of a resource and related services, including any associated treatment costs. It is applied when resources are being used and consumed.

(C) The Precautionary Principle (PP):

The main objective of the precautionary principle is to ensure that a substance or activity posing a threat to the environment is prevented from adversely affecting the environment, even if there is no conclusive scientific proof of linking that particular substance or activity to environmental damage. The words environmental damage. The words ‘substance‘ and ‘activity‘ are the result of human intervention.

The Rio Declaration in its Principle 15 emphasizes on this principle wherein it is provided that where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage. Lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.

International Policy Instruments to Tackle Global Environmental Externalities

The use of available policy instruments will only lead to a cost-effective global outcome if certain conditions are met.

  • First, unless individual countries undertake cost-effective domestic greenhouse policy measures that are compatible with the goal of global efficiency, the policy instruments adopted internationally will not lead to that goal.
  • Second, each individual country is free to choose its own instrument or combination of instruments to meet its international obligations. But the choice of international instruments will, to some extent, dictate the choice of policy instruments at the domestic level.

Some of the international policy instruments are:

  1. International Carbon Tax,
  2. Tradable Quotas, and
  3. Tradable Pollution Permits:

(i) International Carbon Tax:

If countries agree to apply the same level of domestic greenhouse or carbon taxes (harmonized domestic taxes), marginal abatement costs would tend to be equalized among countries. Such an
agreement may have to include side payments from rich to poor countries, if the latter are to be encouraged to participate.

In the case of a domestic carbon tax imposed by international agreement, the national commitment to impose the tax will also vary because perspectives on global warming vary from one country to another. If a country has signed such an agreement under international pressure, that country can make the carbon tax ineffective by reducing existing energy taxes, by taxing substitutes for fossil fuels like hydroelectricity, by providing subsidies to products that are fossil-fuel-energy intensive, and by lax enforcement of the tax. A global carbon tax imposed by an international agency, on the other hand, will impinge on national sovereignty and will therefore be difficult to negotiate.

If global carbon taxes are levied as producer taxes instead of consumer taxes, tax revenue can be collected in fossil fuel producer countries instead of consumer countries. This will shift the burden between the two types of countries. The distributional effects of such taxes may be unacceptable to many countries and if used, can give rise to retaliatory trade policy measures.

An alternative type of international policy to reduce emissions can be an agreement to levy a uniform international tax on greenhouse or carbon emissions in each of the participating countries. The total international tax revenue can be shared among the participating countries according to rules established in the agreement.

One possibility is that a carbon tax can be imposed on nation states themselves by an international agency. In this case, the agreement can specify not only tax rate but also a formula for reallocating the revenues from the tax. Cost-effectiveness will demand that the tax rate be uniform across all countries but the reallocation of revenue will not have a direct bearing on cost-effectiveness.

As an alternative, the agreement can stipulate that all countries should levy the same domestic carbon tax, called a harmonized domestic carbon tax. In both cases, the tax rate that achieves the agreement emission target can only be struck through trial and error. The tax rate will also need to be adjusted over time as economic conditions change and as more scientific information becomes available.

Uniform tax rates are required for reasons of cost-effectiveness. But the resulting distribution of costs may not conform to principles of equity and justice. For this reason, transfer of resources may be required. In principle, the two versions of an international tax agreement can involve the same actual financial transfers, although the transfer principles may differ. Under the harmonized tax system, the agreement can involve fixed lampsum payments from rich to poor countries.

(ii) Tradable Quotas:

Under an international tradable emission quota scheme, all coalition countries will be allocated a quota for emission. A quota can be either a right to repeated emissions i.e., one tonne of carbon per year, or a right to emit a given volume once only. Thus a quota system can comprise either quotas forever or quotas for a specified period of, say five-year or some combination of both. In the case of either type of quota, any unused right to emit during a given year can be kept and used at a later time.

In each period, countries will be free to buy and sell quotas on an international exchange on the spot or forward market. Time-limiting the quotas will probably be necessary not only to account for uncertainty about the extent of the enhanced greenhouse problem but also to give credibility to the system. This will also reduce the risk of large countries gaining market power on the quota trade market.

An efficient international tradable quota system presupposes a market organization for quota trade. In the case of a system for the control of emission of CO2, quotas will have to be dominated according to the carbon content of the fossil fuel used. If quotas are to be established for the full range of greenhouse gases, it would be necessary to weigh gases according to their estimated and agreed global warming potential.

(iii) Tradable Pollution Permits:

An international tradable quota scheme can co-exist with domestic permit schemes within each country. Some countries may choose to meet their emission targets by some other means, such as taxes or regulatory systems. In the case of a domestic tradable permit scheme, a national government will issue emission permits to wholesale dealers in fossil fuels or producers and importers of fossil fuels and allow them to trade on a domestic permit market.

The government can also allow permit holders to trade directly in an existing international market. Alternatively, to the extent that both international quota and domestic permit markets exist for a particular country, the government can trade in the international market and set a definite domestic limit on the volume of domestic permits for some future period.

The government can choose either of the two ways to distribute permits to individual firms. In the first case, firms will be given shares of the total permit volume based on some historical record (‘grandfathering‘) such as their recent fossil fuel sales. The second alternative will be for the government to auction permits. Some combination of these two approaches may also be feasible.

The two approaches differ primarily in two respects. First, ‘grandfathering‘ implies a ‘transfer‘ of wealth equal to the value of the permits to existing firms, whereas when permits are auctioned by the government, this wealth is transferred to the government. The government will collect revenue similar to that from a domestic tax on firms producing the same volume of emissions.

As with tax receipts, auction revenues can be used to reduce pre-existing distorting taxes. Second, since grandfathering improves the wealth of such firms, it may keep them in business longer than otherwise. This allocation approach may reduce the rate of entry of new firms and slow technological change.

To date most tradable permit systems have made use of forever (or eternal) permits. However, there are several reasons for preferring a system of time- limited permits in the case of climate change applications. First, to the extent that permits may be initially grandfathered, the negative effects mentioned above will be mitigated.

If emitters are given sufficient time to adjust, subsequent allocations of permits can be made by auction. Second, potential future policy changes about emission targets in response to new information can cause significant problems for permit price formation if eternal permits are used. An alternative approach would be for the government to retain ownership of the permits and lease them to firms for a fixed period.

The schemes under international tradable quota systems, which have so far been applied on a small scale only under the Montreal Protocol for the international CFC production quota trade and for the CFC consumption quota trade within the European Union, there is considerable experience with the use of tradable permit schemes within countries.

Sustainable Policy Approach to Check Environmental Degradation

Economic growth always brings risk of environmental damage, as it puts increased pressure on environmental resources. But the policy makers guided by the concept of sustainable development will necessarily work to assure that developing economies remain firmly attached to their ecological roots and these roots are protected so that they may support growth over the long run.

Environmental protection is thus inherent in the concept of sustainable development. It describes a process in which natural resource base is not allowed to deteriorate. It emphasizes the role of environmental quality and environmental inputs in the process of raising real income and the quality of life. Thus sustainable development is closely linked to economic development. Sustainable development includes the various policy measures to check the environmental degradation and reduce the costs of economic growth.

1. Reducing Poverty:

Such development projects should be started which provide greater employment opportunities to the poor. The government should expand health and family planning services and education so as to reach the poor that will help reduce population growth. Further, making investments in providing civic amenities like the supply of drinking water, sanitation facilities, alternate habitats in place of slums, etc. will not only improve welfare but also environment.

2. Removing Subsidies:

To reduce environmental degradation at no net financial cost to the government, subsidies for resource use by the private and public sectors should be removed. Subsidies on the use of electricity, fertilisers, pesticides, diesel, petrol, gas, irrigation water, etc. lead to their wasteful use and environmental problems. Subsidies to capital intensive and highly polluting private and public industries lead to environmental degradation. Removing or reducing subsidies will bring both economic and environmental benefits to the country.

3. Clarifying and Extending Property Rights:

Lack of property rights over excessive use of resources leads to degradation of the environment. This leads to overgrazing on common or public lands, deforestation, and over-exploitation of minerals, fish, etc. Clarifying and assigning ownership titles and tenure rights to private owners will solve environmental problems.

Places where the use of common lands, forests, irrigation systems, fisheries, etc. are regulated and rules for their proper use are laid down by the community, the ownership rights should be clearly specified in the administrative records.

4. Market Based Approaches:

Besides regulatory measures, there is urgent need for adopting market based approaches for the protection of environment. They aim at pointing to consumers and industries about the costs of using natural resources on environment. These costs are reflected in the prices paid for goods and services so that industries and ultimately the consumers are guided by them to reduce air and water pollution.

The Market Based Instruments (MBIs) approach is used in both developed and developing countries. MBIs are of two types: quantity based and piece based. They are in the form of environmental taxes that include “pollution charges (emission tax/pollution taxes), marketable permits, depositor fund system, input taxes/product charges, differential tax rate and user administrative charges and subsidies for pollution abatement equipment for air and water resources.”

5. Regulatory Policies:

Regulatory policies also help in reducing environmental degradation. Regulators have to take decisions regarding price, quantity and technology. In making decisions, they have to choose between the quantity or the price of pollution or resources use or technologies.

The regulating authority has also to decide whether policies should target the environmental problem directly or indirectly. It lays down technical standards and regulations and charges on air, water and land pollutants. Regulators should be impartial in applying environmental standards to both public and private sector polluters or resources users.

6. Economic Incentives:

Like regulatory policies, economic incentives relate to price, quantity and technology. Incentives are usually in the form of variable fees to resources users for the quantity of pollutants in air, water and land use. They are given rebates if less waste or pollution is generated than the emission standards laid down.

7. Trade Policy:

Trade policy in relation to the environment has two implications: first, concerning domestic policy reforms, and second, relating to international trade policy. Domestic trade policy emphasizes on the establishment of less polluting industries away from the cities and the use of environment-friendly processes for polluting industries by adopting cleaner technologies.

As regards the relation between international trade and environmental quality is concerned, controversy has been going on as to whether liberalized trade causes environmental degradation. The controversy leads to the conclusion that overall trade liberalization is likely to produce negative environmental externalities, but also some environmental gains.”

The former does not imply that free trade should be stopped. Rather, such cost-effective policies should be adopted that optimize externalities. Environmental degradation from free trade should be reduced by strict domestic policy measures based on the “polluter pays principle”. It is better to insist on the foreign company to transfer clear technology and assist in cleaning the environment for existing industries.

8. Public Participation:

Public awareness and participation are highly effective to improve environmental conditions. Conducting of formal and informal education programmes relating to environment management and environmental awareness programmes can go a long way in controlling environmental degradation and keeping the environment clean. For instance, the scheme of eco-labelling of products helps consumers to identify products that are environment friendly.

In Japan, there are consumer co-operatives that popularise green products which are recyclable, biodegradable, rechargeable, ozone friendly and unleaded. As a further step, firms, industries and other establishments in some countries have to disclose in their Annual Reports the extent to which they are adopting environmental friendly measures.

Public participation can also render costless and useful assistance in Afforestation, conservation of wildlife, management of parks, improvements of sanitation and drainage systems, and flood control. The use of indigenous institutions and local voluntary organizations can render much help in educating the masses about the harmful effects of environmental degradation and the benefits of keeping the environment clean.

9. Participation in Global Environmental Efforts:

There are many international conventions and agreements on environmental protection and conservation which every country is expected to follow. They include the Montreal Protocol regarding the phasing out of ozone-depleting chemicals.

The Basel Convention which relates to the control of the transboundary movement and disposal of hazardous wastes. Among others, there is the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and the Agenda 21 which is the operational programme for sustainable development.

Then, there are the GATT Clauses on Environment. Not all countries are signatories to the various agreements and conventions. There is the threat of trade sanctions against countries that do not honour agreements relating to biodiversity protection or greenhouse gas emissions but many countries do not adhere to them.

Environmental Policy of India

Environment policies of the Government of India includes legislations related to environment.

In the Directive Principles of State Policy, Article 48 says “the state shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country”; Article 51-A states that “it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures.”

India is one of the parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) treaty. Prior to the CBD, India had different laws to govern the environment. The Indian Wildlife Protection Act 1972 protected biodiversity. It was amended later multiple times. The 1988 National Forest Policy had conservation as its fundamental principle. In addition to these acts, the government passed the Environment (Protection) Act 1986 and Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act 1992 for control of biodiversity.

Objectives and Strategies of National Environment Policy (2006) of India

There are different policies for forests, water, and environmental pollution. But the experience in implementing these policies over the years has brought out the need for a comprehensive policy approach to the management of the environment in the country. Therefore, a new national environment policy was announced in 2006.

Objectives of National Environment Policy (2006):

The following are the objectives of the national environment policy:

  1. Conservation of Critical Environmental Resources: To protect and conserve critical environmental resources and invaluable natural and man-made heritage which are essential for life-supporting livelihoods and welfare of the society.
  2. Inter-generational Equity: To ensure judicious use of environmental resources to meet the needs and aspirations of present and future generations.
  3. Efficiency in Environmental Resources Use: To ensure efficient use of environmental resources in the sense of reduction in their use per unit of economic output and to minimize adverse environmental impacts on society.
  4. Environmental Governance in the Management of Resources: To apply the principles of resources. To apply the principles of good governance (i.e. transparency, rationality, accountability, reduction in costs and time, and public participation) to the management of environmental resources.
  5. Enhancement of Resources: Appropriate technology and traditional knowledge, managerial skills, and social capital will be used for the conservation and enhancement of resources.
  6. Livelihood Security for the Poor: To ensure equitable access to environmental resources for poor tribal communities, which are most dependent on environmental resources for their livelihood.
  7. Integration of Environmental Concerns for Socio-economic Development; to integrate environmental concerns into policies, plans, programs, and projects for socio-economic development.

Strategy for Conservation of Environmental Resources

The following strategy will be adopted for conservation of environmental resources in India:

1. Land Degradation:

The following steps will be taken to reduce land degradation:

  • Encourage adoption of science based and traditional sustainable
    land use practices through research and development.
  • Pilot scale demonstrations and farmers‘ training.
  • Promote reclamation of wasteland and degraded forest land through formulation and adoption of multi-stakeholder partnerships involving theland owning agency, local communities and investors.
  • To reduce desertification through action plans.
2. Forests:

To formulate an innovative strategy for the increase of forest and tree cover from the present level of 23 percent of the country‘s land area, to 33 percent in 2012 through afforestation of degraded forest land, wasteland, and tree cover on private or revenue land.

Key elements of the strategy would include:

  1. The implementation of multi-stakeholder partnerships involving the forest department, local communities, and investors, with clearly defined obligations and entitlements for each partner, following good governance principles, to derive environmental livelihood, and financial benefits.
  2. Rationalization of restrictions on the cultivation of forest species outside notified forest areas.
  3. Enabling farmers to undertake social and farm forestry where their returns are more favorable than cropping.
  4. Universalization of the Joint Forestry Management System throughout the country.
  5. Formulating an appropriate methodology for reckoning and restoring the environmental values of forests that are unavoidably diverted to other uses.
  6. Giving legal recognition of the traditional rights of forest-dwelling tribes and provide long-term incentives to the tribals to conserve the forests.
3. Wildlife:

In respect of wildlife conservation, the following steps would be pursued:

  1. Expanding the Protected Area Network of the country. It must be ensured that the overall area of the network in each biogeographic zone would increase in the process.
  2. Paralleling multi-stakeholder partnerships for afforestation.Further, formulating and implementing similar partnerships for enhancement of wildlife habit in conservation and community reserves.
  3. Encouraging eco-tourism at wildlife sites.
  4.  Implementing measures for captive breeding and release into the wild identified endangered species.
4. Biodiversity:

According to the National Environment Policy, a large- scale exercise has been already completed for providing inputs towards a National Biodiversity Action Plan. However, following measures would be taken to protect biodiversity at national level.

  1. Strengthen the protection of biodiversity hot spots.
  2. Pay attention to the potential impacts of development projects on biodiversity resources and natural heritage.
  3. The genetic material of threatened species of flora and fauna must be conserved on priority.
  4.  Conferring intellectual property rights for traditional knowledge.
5. Wetlands:

Wetlands, natural and man-made, freshwater or brackish, provide numerous ecological services. They provide habitat to aquatic flora and fauna. But now wetlands are under threat from drainage and conversion for agriculture and human settlements, besides pollution.

The key strategy for action will include the following steps:

  1. To set up a legally enforceable regulatory mechanism for identified valuable wetlands to prevent their degradation and enhance their conservation.
  2. To formulate and implement sustainable tourism strategies for identified wetlands thorough multi-stakeholder partnerships involving public agencies, and local communities.
  3. To take explicit account of impacts on wetlands of significant development projects during environmental appraisal of such projects.
6. Conservation of Man-made Heritage:

Man-made heritage reflects the pre-history, ways of living and culture of people. In the case of India, such heritage is at the core of our national identity. At the same time, considerable economic value, and livelihoods may be derived from conservation of man- made heritage and their sustainable use.

The following action plans would be required for their sustainable use.

  1. In setting ambient environmental standards, especially for air quality, the potential impacts on designated heritage sites must be taken into account.
  2. Integrated regional development plans should be drawn up with participation of the local community with respect to shifting polluting activities and waste far away from sites.
  3. Impacts on designated heritage sites must be considered at the stage of developing the terms of reference for environmental impact assessments of the projects.
7. Environmentally Sensitive Zones:

Environmentally sensitive zones may be defined as areas with identified environmental resources with incomparable values, which require special attention for their conservation. In order to conserve and enhance these resources, without impeding legitimate socio-economic development of these areas, the following actions will be taken.

  1. Identify and give legal status to Environmentally Sensitive Zones in the country.
  2. Formulate area development plans for these zones on a scientific basis with adequate participation by the local communities.
  3. Create local institutions for the environmental management of such areas.
8. Strategy for Sustainable Mountain Development:

Mountain ecosystems play a key role in providing forest cover, feeding perennial river systems, conserving genetic diversity, and providing an immense resource base for livelihoods through sustainable tourism.

There has been significant adverse impact on mountain ecosystems by way of deforestation, submergence of river valleys, pollution of freshwater resources, despoiling of landscapes, degradation of human habitat, loss of genetic diversity, retreat of glaciers, and pollution.

Keeping in view, the following action plan for sustainable mountain development would be taken up:

  1. Adopting best practice norms for infrastructure construction in mountain regions to avoid or minimize damage to sensitive ecosystems and despoiling of landscapes.
  2. Encouraging cultivation of traditional varieties of crops and horticulture by promotion of organic farming and enabling farmers to realize a price premium.
  3. Promoting sustainable tourism through adoption of best practice norms for tourism facilities and access to ecological resources.
  4. Developing strategies  or particular unique mountains capes.
9. Strategy for Sustainable Coastal Resources:

Coastal environmental resources provide habitats for marine species, which in turn comprise the resource base for large numbers of fisher folk, protection from extreme weather events, a resource base for sustainable tourism, agricultural and urban livelihoods.

In recent years, there has been significant degradation of coastal resources, for which the proximate causes include poorly planned human settlements, improper location of industries and infrastructure, pollution from industries, and settlements, and over exploitation of living natural resources.

In keeping with these adverse effects on coastal resources, the following measures would be taken:

  1. To mainstream the sustainable management of mangroves into the forestry sector regulatory regime, ensuring that they continue to provide livelihoods to local communities.
  2. To disseminate available techniques for regeneration of coral reefs, and support activities based on application of such techniques.
  3. To embody considerations of sea-level rise in coastal management plans.
  4. India has passed Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification in February 1991 and Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) to ensure protection to coastal environmental in India. Their rules and regulations are firmly founded on scientific principles. Specific projects should be consistent with the approval of ICZM plans.
10. Strategy for Conservation of Freshwater Resources:

The fresh water resources comprise the river systems, groundwater and wetlands. Each of these has a unique role and characteristic linkage to other environmental entities.

River Management:

The following comprise elements of an action plan for river management:

  1. Promoting integrated approaches to management of river basins by the concerned river authorities, considering upstream and downstream inflows and withdrawals by reason.
  2. Monitoring authorities will check pollution loads and natural regeneration capacities to ensure adequate flows and adherence to water quality standards.
  3. To consider and mitigate the impacts on river flora and fauna.
  4. To consider mandating the installation of water saving closets and taps in the building byelaws of urban centres.


Groundwater is present in underground aquifers in many parts of the country. The water table has been falling rapidly in many areas of the country in recent years. This is largely due to withdrawal for agricultural, industrial, and urban use in excess of annual recharge.

In urban areas, apart from withdrawals for domestic and industrial use, housing and infrastructure such as roads prevent sufficient recharge. In addition, some pollution of groundwater occurs due to leaching of stored hazardous waste and use of agricultural chemicals in particular pesticides.

The following action plans are required in this direction:

  1. The efficient use of groundwater would accordingly, require that the practice of non-metering of electricity supply to farmers be discontinued.
  2. To promote efficient water use techniques such as sprinkler or drip irrigation among farmers.
  3. To support practices of contour bunding and revival of traditional methods for enhancing groundwater recharge.
  4. To mandate water (rainwater) harvesting in all new constructions in relevant urban areas to enhance groundwater recharge.
  5. To support research and development in cost effective techniques suitable for rural drinking water projects.

Policy for Pollution Abatement:

The following measures will be adopted to control the pollution at local and national level:

1. Water Pollution:

The following measures will be adopted to control water pollution:

  1. To enhance reuse of treated sewage and industrial waste water before final discharge to water bodies.
  2. To set up common effluent treatment plants on cost recovery basis.
  3. To take explicit account of groundwater pollution in pricing policies of pesticides and fertilizers.
  4. To develop a strategy for strengthening regulation regarding the impact of ship breaking on marine resources.
  5. To promote research and development in the field of low cost technologies for sewage treatment.
  6. To develop public-private partnership for setting up effluent and sewage treatment plants.
2. Air Pollution:

The following are elements of an action plan for air pollution:

  • To accelerate the national programs of dissemination of improved fuelwood stoves, and solar cookers for rural women. To provide incentive-based instruments for controlling air pollution
  • To provide adequate investments in low pollution mass transport systems with the help of public and private partnerships. To give greater legal standing to local community and NGOs to undertake monitoring of environmental compliance, to promote reclamation of wastelands by energy plantations.
3. Noise Pollution:

The following would comprise elements of an action plan on abatement of Noise Pollution:

  1. Make appropriate distinctions between different environments in terms of setting ambient noise standards, e.g. rural versus urban , educational and hospital establishments versus other areas, daytime versus night time in residential areas; areas in the vicinity of rail, road and airport infrastructure etc.
  2. Distinguish between noise standards and protection measures the context of occupational exposure, and environmental exposure to third parties.
  3. Formulate noise emissions norms i.e. loudspeakers, automobile horns and fireworks ratings appropriate to various activities о ensure that exposure levels to third parties who are not participants in the activity do not exceed prescribed ambient standards.

Encourage dialogue between state/local authorities and religious/ community representatives on the adoption of enforceable specific durations, timings for use of loudspeakers or fireworks.

4. Soil Pollution:

The following are elements of an action plan on soil pollution:

  1. Develop and implement strategies for clean-up of pre-existing toxic and hazardous waste dumps, in particular, in industrial areas and reclamation of such lands for sustainable use.
  2. Strengthen the capacities of local bodies for segregation, recycling, and reuse of municipal solid wastes.
  3. Develop and implement strategies for recycling, reuse, and final environmentally benign disposal of plastics wastes, including through the promotion of relevant technologies, and use of incentive-based instruments.
  4. Promote organic farming of traditional crop varieties through research.
  5. Develop transparent, voluntary, and science-based eco-labeling schemes.
  6. Give legal recognition to, and strengthen the informal sector systems of collection and recycling of various materials.
  7. Develop public-private partnerships for setting up and operating secure landfills and incinerators for toxic and hazardous wastes, both industrial and biomedical.

Legal Framework:

There are already many laws to deal with the problems of environmental pollution in India. These are

  • Environment Protection Act 1986,
  • the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974,
  • the Water Cess Act 1977 and The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981.

The law in respect of management and conservation of forests and biodiversity is contained in the

  • Indian Forest Act 1927,
  • the Forest (Conservation) Act 1980,
  • the Wild Life (Protection) Act 1972 and
  • the Biodiversity Act 2003.

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