National Environment Policy (NEP) 2004

The need for a comprehensive policy statement on environment in India has been felt for some time now. There are many sectoral and cross-sectoral approaches to environmental management and a holistic picture of these is required. It is also necessary to review the earlier objectives, policy instruments, and strategies. The National Environment Policy (NEP, 2004) has been formulated with these concerns in mind. It supports India’s national commitment to a clean environment, mandated in the Constitution in Articles 48 A and 51 A (g), strengthened by judicial interpretation of Article 21. The NEP, 2004 is also intended to endorse India’s commitment to various international initiatives. The policy attempts to mainstream environmental concerns into all development activities. The NEP 2004 highlights the key environmental challenges faced by India at present as also those that the country is likely to face in the future. The draft document includes the objectives of environment policy, normative principles underlying policy action, strategic themes for intervention, broad indications of the legislative and institutional development needed to accomplish the strategic themes, and mechanisms for implementation and review. An extensive process of consultation with experts and various stakeholders has been carried out towards developing this policy. This process has also been documented. It is anticipated that the NEP, 2004 will be used as a guide for action: in regulatory reform, programmes and projects for environmental conservation; and review and enactment of legislation, by agencies of the Central, State, and Local Governments. The policy encourages partnerships of different stakeholders, i.e. public agencies, local communities, the investment community, and international development partners, in harnessing their respective resources and strengths for environmental management. It also expects to raise financial support through innovative processes to meet its objectives. The draft of the National Environment Policy, 2004 can be found on http://envfor.nic.in/. The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has put this draft up for comments. The present debate under this forum hopes to stimulate discussion on the draft policy.

By Arunava Das

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