India set up its National Environmental Policy back in 2006 that aims at conserving environmental resources for the purpose of securing livelihood and well-being of its citizens. This is mainly through stimulating performance of different stakeholders such as public agencies, local communities, and the investment community. Academic and scientific institutions and national development partners are extremely useful in this plan implementation (Jariwala 2004, p.22).
This paper explores the contribution of various stakeholders who take part or who will face the consequences of this environmental plan in India. The paper is to establish how the stakeholders will contribute or allow for the successful accomplishment of the goals of National Environmental Policy of India 2006. These stakeholders participate in various ways which this paper is going to identify and assess. It is worthy realizing the individual contributions of each and every stakeholder in this matter of national and global concern.
Environmental degradation is a great challenge to most countries of the world including India; various agencies ranging from the government to other small scale stakeholders are engaging in countless activities which aim at making the environmental dream of Indians a reality. This paper looks into the Indian environmental situation prior to the formulation of the policy plus the current state of affairs. The aim of this analysis is to gauge the extent to which various bodies, organizations, and individuals respond to their environmental obligations in order to maintain India a habitable country (Kolstad 2000, p.33).
This policy intends to be a guide to action in programs and projects for environmental conservation, regulatory reform, enactment of Legislations by local and central government and helping in the review process of such enactments. The outstanding or key theme of this environmental policy is that while environmental conservation of resources is fundamental to facilitate livelihoods and prosperity of all, the most secure foundation for conservation is to make sure that people who rely on certain resources obtain better livelihoods from the act of conservation (Misra 1997, p.23).
The policy intends to stimulate collaborations of different stakeholders such as local communities, academic and scientific institutions, public agencies, investment communities, and international development partners. These stakeholders will help with respective resources and strengths for environmental management (Myers 1988, p.12).
Nature of the Environmental Problem
There are quite a number of environmental issues in India. These issues include water pollution, air pollution, pollution of the natural environment, and garbage. The situation is considerably worse in the current period due to the increase in human activities like industrialization, which promotes massive pollution of the environment (Panayotou 1994, p.17).
According to Parikh and Parikh (2000, p.14), the data collection and environmental reviews of World Bank specialists, between 1995 over 2004, show India is making one of the strongest improvements in the world in combating environmental issues and improving the quality of the environment. The country still has a particularly long way to go in terms of environmental conservation. Pollution is a significant challenge for India. Major environmental threats are resource depletion, forest and agricultural degradation of land, public health, environmental degradation, loss of resilience in ecosystems, resource depletion, and livelihood security for the poor.
The main sources of environmental pollution in this country include biomass like dry livestock waste and fuel wood which is the primary sources of energy. There is a lack of organized waste and garbage removal services, lack of flood control, and diversion of consumer waste into rivers. In India, there are insufficient sewage treatment operations, an inadequate monsoon water drainage system, and availability of cremation practices near major rivers (Patnaik 2006, p.11).
The population growth of India is very large, according to Phillips (1998, p.34); there is a long history of debate and analysis about interactions between the environment and population growth. India’s growing population exerts pressure on land through agricultural services causing environmental degradation thus making the cultivation of land of poorer quality. Rapid population growth in India is causing water, air, and solid waste pollution.
India has major issues with water pollution, they result from inadequate treatment of the sewerage. Most rivers like Ganges and Yamuna flow through areas with high population. This leads to heavy pollution resulting from human activities. Air pollution is a rampant occurrence in India; the principal sources are biomass and fuel wood burning. Vehicle emissions, traffic congestion, and fuel adulteration are just some of the air pollutants. India is the largest consumer of fuel wood, biomass, and agricultural waste for energy purposes. Use of fuel wood dominates domestic energy use in rural India; this accounts for almost 90% of the total consumption. Agricultural waste and fuel wood burning release more than 165 million tones of combustion products into India's air every year (Phillips 1998, p.31).
Garbage and trash are highly common in rural and urban areas of India. Specifically, Indian cities generate about 100 million tons of solid waste a year. Most sidewalks and public places are full of litter and filth where rivers and canals act as dumping sites for garbage (Pinto 2000, p.435). Chemical pollution like carbon dioxide is extremely rampant in India. It produces up to around 1.65 per year. Land and soil pollution are major problems in India as well; uranium poisoning in Punjab signifies the intensity of these problems (Pabst, Ashwini & Preeti 2004, p.5).
Social, Cultural, and Economic Impacts of Environmental Degradation
According to Sachs (1994, p.66), there are two types of social concerns that relate to environmental policy. There are those that relate to distribution of environmental quality across different members of the society and those that deal with the distribution of the financial effcts of environmental policies. Another social impact of the policy is on desert habitats; according to Sankar (1998, p.13), the arid region of India covers approximately 38.8% of the country and spreads over 10 states. The policy aims at coming up with innovative and integrated measures which will minimize the human occupation of such areas to pave the way for conservation through both traditional and scientific knowledge.
The cultural impact of this policy is the support of the participation of women in being given legal coverage of the traditional rights to India’s forest-dependent communities. This will correct a serious historical injustice and secure livelihoods. It will reduce conflicts with Forest Department and lead to conservation of the environment (Chatterjee 2005, p.49).
The economic impacts of the National Environmental Policy of India revolve around the polluter pay principle. Impacts of consumption and production of one party are on third parties who lack a direct economic connection with the original act. The policy promotes internalization of most environmental costs. The process covers the use of incentive-based policy instruments that ensure that the polluter must bear the cost of pollution. All these result from the regard to the public interest which favors international trade and investment (Courant & Porter 2003, p.13).
The policy adopts the civil or legal liability for environmental damage that aims at deterring environmentally harmful actions by compensating to the actual victims of the environmental damage (Bear 1993, p.22).
Contribution of Public Agencies
The National Environment policy is extremely broad to the extent that it requires a lot of stakeholders to participate in it. Public agencies are vital for the successful implementation of the policy due to their enormous contribution. The Ministry of Environment and Forests has a number of subordinates, statutory, and autonomous bodies which play important roles in the execution of the environment policies in India. Government agencies will come up with action plans which would need preparation and identification of themes at all levels of government. These themes shall provide a clear guideline on how to implement the policy fully (Carpenter 1995, p.28).
The Ministry of Environment and Forests has come up with a system of stakeholder consultations. This process will play a big role in implementing the new strategies. The state and local governments will formulate their own convenient strategies or action plans consistent with the National Environment Policy. The empowerment of local urban bodies in terms of functions, funds, functionaries, and corresponding capacities will receive greater attention for success of main provisions of this policy. The public agencies encourage integration of environmental concerns in all necessary development processes. Inclusion of environmental considerations in sectorial policy making is critical among the principles underpinning the policy (Bear 1993 p.40).
The ministry shall review the body of existing legislation to develop synergies among various statutes to eliminate obsolescence and amalgamate provisions with similar objectives, with respect to the Environment policy. They shall implement the accountability concern of the central government. This shall entail undertaking the relevant legislative changes with due regard to the goals and principles of National Environmental Policy. This shall be informing of ensuring the well-being and livelihoods of the poor by ensuring proper access to the necessary environmental resources (Sachs 1994, p.66).
Public agencies will encourage clustering of industries and other development activities to enable setting up of environmental management infrastructure as well as enforcing and monitoring environmental compliance. They will emphasize implementation, post-project implementation, and monitoring of environmental management plans by participatory processes involving relevant levels of government, community, and industry (Sankar 1998, p.13).
Further, public agencies shall contribute to the successful implementation of the policy. This will be done by restricting the diversion of dense forests and other areas of high endemism genetic resources by regulation of encroachment on forests. They will ensure the provision for environmental restoration after decommissioning of industries; this shall involve mine closure in all approvals of mining plans and institutionalize a system of post-monitoring of such projects (Chatterjee 2002, p.63). These agencies shall assist in the creation of institutions with adequate participation for the environmental management of those areas.
Contribution of Local Communities
The National Environmental Policy of India aims at conserving India’s critical environmental resources, ensuring efficiency in environmental resources use, and environmental governance among other objectives. Local community members are, therefore, supposed to play vital roles in ensuring the success of the policy. Local inhabitants are direct beneficiaries of this policy; as a matter of fact, the government is putting in a lot of effort to ensure that the future of the society is sustainable through sufficient environmental conservation processes (Phillips 1998, p.33).
India’s local communities should adopt tradition-sustainable land use practices and scientific-based practices. They should promote reclamation of wasteland through liaisons with the government agencies. They should practice organic farming, adaptation of modern irrigation techniques, agro-forestry, and environmentally sustainable cropping patterns, which shall lead to success of the Environmental policy.
Local communities in India are using agronomic practices in desert ecosystems; this is leading to the promotion of agricultural practices and varieties, which adapts well to the desert ecosystem thus ensuring the implementation of the policy. Locals are practicing efficient water use techniques, such as drip irrigation in farming. They are also promoting organic farming of traditional crop varieties thus reducing the exposure of land to chemicals, which pollute land (Pinto 2000, p.17).
The local community shall integrate conservation and proper use of wetlands into river basin managgement involving all stakeholders. The community shall incorporate a distinctive part in forestation programs especially pertaining river banks and catchments areas to prevent soil erosion and improve green cover.
The local community in liaison with the government agencies shall formulate and implement viable models for establishing and operating secure incinerators, landfills, and other necessary techniques for the disposal and treatment of hazardous and toxic waste. These strategies shall ensure that there are no hazardous waste dumb legacies mainly in the industrial areas and mines, and reclamation of land for sustainable future use (Myers 1988, p.41).
Contributions of the Investment Community
Investment communities play a key role in the successful implementation of the National Environment Policy. The Indian situation is becoming worse bearing in minds the rate at which the population is growing and the pressure that this increase exerts on the environment. The increase in population is leading to increase in the human activities, which tends to pollute or degrade the environment. For the policy to be successful, various investment partners have to be willing and able to partner with the government agencies in the formulation and implementation process.
Environmental upgrading requires huge sums of money since there are many environmental issues that have to be taken to consideration. The investment community has a duty and obligation of enhancing the necessary assistance as it facilitates the successful implementation of the policy (Panayotou 2004, p.106).
They shall form partnerships with the public agencies, which will enhance cooperation in the management of a given environmental resource. The investing agency shall bring in a certain amount of resources and assume duties; they shall reap from certain entitlements. The investment community shall fund various enviental maintenance programs that are going to be put in place by various public agencies. They shall avail funds and technical skills necessary for mobilizing locals against environmental degradation. Such financial and technical initiatives shall facilitate fully the implementation of the National Environmental Policy in India (Parikh & Parikh 2000, p.37).
Investment communities shall help in developing and utilization of standardized environmental accounting processes and practices in preparation of statutory financial systems for large enterprises. This shall encourage greater environment responsibility in investment decision-making, public scrutiny, and management practices. These investment communities shall adopt necessary appraisal practices, which shall ensure consideration of risks when it comes to the financing of environmental projects (Parikh & Parikh 2000, p.40).
Investment agencies shall facilitate the integration of various environmental values into a cost-benefit analysis. This motive shall encourage efficient allocation of resources in making public investment decisions. They shall enhance a National Environment Restoration Fund. The fund shall help in restoration of environmental resources, which will include hazardous waste legacies.
The investment community shall promote reclamation of land and forests. This shall be achieved through the formulation and implementation of multi-stakeholder partnerships thatshould involve local communities, investors, and the land owning agency (Myers 1988, p.29).
These measures will predictably assist in the implementation of thematic action plans, which l incorporate watershed management strategies for reversing and arresting desertification, and expanding of green cover. They shall fund the promotion of sustainable alternatives to current shifting cultivation where it is no longer ecologically viable. This will ensure that culture and social organization of the local people remains intact (Jariwala 2004, 26).
They shall promote proper water use mechanisms, such as drip and sprinkler irrigation among farmers. They shall also enhance necessary inputs, proper pricing, and extensive support to feasible alternative crops, which shall depend on the availability of water. The investors shall assist with the integration and wise use of wetlands into river basin management consisting of all relevant stakeholders. This shall help to incorporate of unique components, in forestation activities on the catchments and banks of rivers and reservoirs to curtail soil erosion (Kolstad 2000, p.44).
Contributions of International Development Partners
International development partners are extremely helpful in carrying out environmental conservation activities. Many international firms are likely to be willing and are able to invest to help the government to implement the National Environmental Policy successfully. Environmental degradation is a mater of global concern due to the emergence of issues like health hazards, worldwide warming, and the exhaustion of the ozone cover. These are some of the main concerns that attract foreign partners to come to India with the view of uplifting the plight of India’s local citizens and limiting the global effects of environmental degradation (Misra 1997, p.30).
The international partners will take an integral approach to energy conservation and adoption of renewable energy technologies. This needs to happen by improving transmission, conversion, end-use efficiency, and distribution of renewable energy technologies. They shall accelerate international programmes of dissemination of modern solar cookers and fuel wood stoves which are suitable for local cooking activities and biomass resources. They will need to fund and implement action plans for main cities for combating air pollution for point and non-point sources, which rely on judicious amalgamation of fiats and incentive based instruments (Myers 1988, p.25).
The international development partners will help in the setting up of a mechanism to network technology research colleges in the country, private and public for coordination in development, adaptation, and technology research, which shall play a part in environmental conservation. They shall fund the creation of an international data base and promote improvement of new technologies originating from both India and abroad (Jariwala 2004, p.22).