Government Policy and Measures
You would appreciate that no civilized government could afford to neglect the problems posed by environmental degradation. While legislation were passed in the seventies and eighties aimed at conservation of natural resources and prevention and control of environmental pollution, more concerted efforts have since been made by the Government towards these ends. The creation of a separate Department of Environment in 1980 and an integrated Ministry of Environment and Forests in 1985 at the Centre indicates the Government’s recognition of the seriousness of environmental problems. While it is not possible to list all the measures taken by the Government, we shall focus our attention on some major steps taken in this respect.
A policy statement was announced by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests in June 1992. It outland India’s National Conservation Strategy on Environment and Development. It emphasised sustainable development as the key element in the Ministry’s action plan. The task set before the Ministry was “to ensure sustainable and equitable use of resources for meeting the basic needs of the present and future generations without casting damage to the environment”.
Based on the above policy statement, an integrated strategy has been adopted by the Government for better protection of the environment. The strategy is aimed at strengthening the existing programmes of pollution control, ensuring better disposal of solid wastes and hazardous substances, and conserving forests, bio-diversity and the rich ecosystem. All these measures form part of the National Conservation Strategy and the National Forest Policy which was formulated in December, 1988 with the primary objective of ensuring environmental stability and maintenance of the ecological balance.
The Government has set up the National Forestation and Eco-Development Board (NAEB) to undertake a programme of natural regeneration in degraded forest land sin the country.
To bring about a qualitative change into eh forestation programme a National Wastelands Development Board was set up by the Government in June 1985 with the principal aim of reclaiming wastelands through a massive programme of afforest ration with people’s participation.
The National Policy for Abatement of Pollution stresses on utilising economic and policy instruments for the introduction of pollution control measures. Seventeen environmentally critical and highly polluting industries have been identified by the Ministry for special monitoring and enforcement efforts. These 17 industries include sugar, fertilizer, cement, fermentation and distilleries, aluminum, petrol-chemical, thermal power, caustic soda, oil refineries, tanneries, copper smelter, zinc smelters, iron and steel, pulp and paper, dye and dye intermediates, pesticides and pharmaceuticals.
One of the major sources of air pollution is vehicular exhaust fumes. This problems have assumed serious proportions in the metropolitan cities. The Government has laid down misinforms for automobiles under the Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989. Towards reducing the pollution effect of automobile exhaust, the Government has also notified that all petrolengine cars sold in the four metropolitan cities should be fitted with catalytic converters – an efficient device to clean up exhaust emission.
The main strategy for conservation of biodiversity in the country is protein of viable habitats for wild life. The Government maintains 75 National Parks 421 Wildlife Sanctuaries, 21 Project Tiger areas and Biosphere Reserves for converting of wildlife species and preserving genetic diversity in representative ecosystems.
Tying up the environmental issues, the Government has drawn up an Environmental Action Programme (EAP) focusing on the following priority areas :
i) Conservation of biodiversity including forests, marine life and mountain ecosystems.
ii) Conservation of soil and moisture and ensuring that water sources do not get polluted.
iii) Control of industrial pollution and wastes
iv) Access to clan technologies
v) Tackling urban environmental issues.
vi) Strengthening environmental education, training, awareness and resource management.
vii) Alternative energy plan.
The underlying thrust of the EAP is to strengthen the environmental impact assessment of the above areas through an organised system of natural resource accounting environmental statistics.