National Environment Policy 2006
National Environment Policy 2006. The unavoidable consequence of industrial and development activities is the generation of waste. Consequently, efficient waste management is a matter of concern for all nations and they have developed regulatory mechanisms to maintain the balance between economic progress and environmental sustainability. The National Environmental Policy 2006 lays emphasis on the collection and treatment mechanisms for recycling of waste and its safe disposal.
In India, waste management is governed by various subordinate legislation and the entire gamut of waste management regulations are administered by the various state pollution control boards, along with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
The Indian waste management rules are governed by three principles—sustainable development, precaution and ‘polluter pay’. Sustainable development is self-explanatory. Precaution implies measures employed to prevent environmental degradation and environmental hazards. The principle of ‘polluter pays’ implies that the polluter must bear the cost of reversing the pollution to the environment through his own actions. These three principles are the foundation of Indian environmental law jurisprudence. FDI POLICY INDIAN POWER SECTOR
These principles dictate that industries and companies behave in an environmentally accountable manner and resort to restoring the environmental balance if the same has been disrupted by their activities. Bearing this in mind and the increased levels of a waste generation that comes as a consequence of developmental activities, numerous subordinate legislation that addresses waste disposal and deals with waste generated are made by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change under the Environment Protection Act, 1986.
Section 6 of the Environment Protection Act empowers the ministry to make rules for a wide range of issues such as the location of the industries and their functioning, measures to prevent environmental mishaps, manner of dealing with hazardous substances, setting limits to the emission of pollutants and setting standards for ensuring environmental soundness. Specific forms of waste are governed by separate rules and require separate compliances. These deal with authorization, maintenance of records and mechanisms for disposal of wastes.
Numerous practical issues spring forth in the implementation of these rules. The applicable law is an exhaustive list of rules, mandating separate authorizations for each scenario. Had unified legislation been notified and requirement of a single license for the disposal of various kinds of wastes been put in place, it would have been far easier to adhere to the requirements and comply with the applicable law.
Another problem faced by industries is the excessively long time it takes for the state pollution control boards to issue or renew authorization. No mechanism exists to track the status of applications in process. Quite often, bribes are resorted to in order to obtain permits. This acts as a major disincentive.
In addition, a lot of unpredictability exists regarding the regulatory mechanism applied by various state pollution control boards, resulting in speculative risk assessment. Inspection by State Pollution Control Board is largely aimed at large industrial units who are subject to constant scrutiny while the small and medium industrial units are let off without any regular supervision. There is an absence of a nation-wide compliance monitoring mechanism due to the lack of uniformity in the set of conditions, which is imposed under authorization for all categories of entities.
Although industry intensive states are more proactive in enforcing environmental regulations, no reliable statistics exist on the exact number of revocations of authorizations and prosecutions. Maintenance of records and filings with the State Pollution Control Boards is yet to be digitalized. This makes the physical maintenance of records an onerous task due to the huge volume of such records.
There is also a dearth of professional environmental audit firms, which specialize in risk assessment involved in setting industrial units at certain locations.