“Policy contradictions among various competing sectors and stakeholders have resulted in inadequate ‘protection and prevention of degradation’ to the environment.” Comment with a relevant illustration. (15 Marks)

Mentors Comments:
  • Introduce an example of the degradation of the environment for development.
  • Show how various policies act in contradiction to each other.
  • Provide alternative approaches to achieve streamlined goals between environment and development in India.

Answer:

Like many other countries, India too has rapidly industrialized itself. But, this progress has brought various ramifications for the environment. Many attempts have been made to protect the environment and prevent its degradation. But the multitude of stakeholders (ex: multiple Ministries making conflicting rules) has led to policy contradictions which has left the attempts taken inadequate.

CONNECTING LINE

There are numerous precedents that depict how a contradicting goals of the government policy can lead to inadequate protection and prevention of degradation to the environment. Some of the prominent ones are as follows.

DAMS – THE TEMPLES OF MODERN INDIA

  • Immediately after independence, the government of India began devising strategies and policies to secure its ‘energy’ interests. Construction of dams was seen as an important part of this vision and were seen as the temples of modern India.
  • But later it was found that these dams came into a conflict with the environmental interests (affected natural flow of rivers, marine ecosystem got disturbed, change in land use pattern etc.).
  • The damage caused during Uttarakhand floods is a fine example of this.

Western Ghats Ecological Expert Panel

  • Western Ghats are ecologically sensitive zones and also a biodiversity hotspot that is being adversely affected by the unchecked developmental activities.
  • Though the government forms panels and committees to assess the impact and recommend some measures but the contradictory reports by different panels (ex Kasturirangan Committee and Gadgil Committee) leads to confusion.
  • Such confusion also leads to delays in the formulation of an effective policy and meanwhile the environment continue to suffer.

Delhi’s ODD-EVEN Policy

  • An appreciable step by the Delhi government to curb environmental pollution, the Odd-Even policy invited the criticism of various stakeholders.
  • As a result, the scheme had to make several exceptions thereby making it extremely inadequate to tackle the issue of pollution.

Diwali Crackers

  • Similarly, the partial ban imposed by the honourable Supreme Court of India aimed at limiting the noise and environmental pollution caused by the burning of firecrackers.
  • But being in contradiction with the cultural faith and notions of the people, this partial ban turned out to be inadequate to prevent environmental degradation. (Delhi Air Quality)

Way Forward:

  • A policy to protect as well as prevent the degradation to the environment will continue to remain inadequate as long as these conflicts and contradictions remain unresolved.
  • Measures like streamlining the multiple policies, forming joint committees (with experts from different spheres), harnessing the traditional knowledge (of tribal groups) etc. can go a long way in rectifying the policy paralysis, thereby making the policy structure adequate enough to protect and prevent the degradation of the environment.

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