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Cautionary Signals


R. Rajamani

GREEN TAPISM: ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT NOTIFICATION, 2006
By Leo F. Saldanha, Abhayraj Naik, Arpita Joshi, Subramanya Sastry
Environmental Support Group, Bangalore, 2006, pp. 184, Rs. 250.00

VOLUME XXXII NUMBER 8 August 2008

It is unusual for a book which is itself a 'Review' to be reviewed by a person with an evident bias in the subject. It is better therefore that the bias is brought up front before readers draw their own conclusions. The reviewer was connected with the formulation of the first notification in 1994 under the Environment Protection Act. 1986 dealing with Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) which has been superseded (or at least apparently so) by the EIA notification of 2006. The reviewer is also mentioned in page 103 of the book as one who left the task force set up by the Planning Commission in March 2006 to review the EIA laws, policies, procedures etc as wide consultations were not encouraged. It is a piece of irony or more that the EIA notification itself was issued in September 2006 before the reconstituted task force had even submitted its report in December 2006! The reviewer has also joined about 159 others to suggest amendments to the notification of September 2006 on which the jury appears to be still out. But there should be no hesitation with even parties with some bias entering a debate concerning the natural resources of this country, the social order and the impact that follows the failure to look at alternatives that cause less or no damage to the environment or that results from the pursuit of wrong developmental projects and processes. The authors of the book argue at length that the notification of 2006 is flawed, not well understood and does not ‘provide a framework for appreciating and minimizing their adverse impacts on environment and society'. If so, there is nothing wrong in the reviewer trying to look at what the book says and its implications.   The book begins with an introduction that mentions the international treaties and Indian environmental legislation. This list is not exhaustive and would have done well to include other revenue laws for protection of water bodies, the Indian penal Code provisions, Factories Act etc. It is not as though the country did not have any laws or self- regulation before the British as there were several rulers who were concerned with protecting the natural wealth of the country. Even the village governing institutions like panchayats ensured the sanctity of pasture lands, cleanliness of the local wells, ponds etc. Environmental jurisprudence does not only rely on the written codes relating to the subject of environment alone but also on cultural practices ...


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