Environment Care: House Panel Slams government agencies

Economic Times, May 14, 2015

A parliamentary panel has expressed concern over the performance of the government agencies responsible for environment protection.

The parliamentary standing committee on environment and forests has said in a report that it is “not satisfied with overall performance of the concerned agencies of the government as regards the management and protection of our environment”. It has also expressed its dissatisfaction with the TSR Subramanian Committee report that has recommended a slew of changes to environmental laws.

The committee said that while clearing proposals for economic activity in forest areas inhabited by tribals, such as in the case of Niyamgiri, the environment ministry should attach weight to the concept of “entities of incomparable value” incorporated in the National Environment Policy 2006. The report says that “environmental concerns cannot be construed as being at cross purposes with development” and “genuine environmental concerns cannot be ignored”

It calls for setting up of an inter-ministerial mechanism for resolution of conflicts and disputes. Set up by the Modi government, the high-level committee led by Subramanian had submitted its report to the environment ministry in August 2014 and is seen as the guiding principle for reviewing green rules.

“The committee…recommends that the ministry should not proceed with the implementation of the recommendations made by the Subramanian committee without a further in-depth review and after taking into account the views expressed by various stakeholders which now form part of the standing committee’s deliberations. Indeed, further views can also be solicited on the subject,” the panel said in its report.

Congress leader Ashwani Kumar, chairperson of the panel, said there was unanimity among the members that the Subramanian committee report should not be accepted. He added any attempt to “dilute laws” will be opposed strongly by his party in Parliament.

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