India has several environmental regulatory bodies responsible for formulating and implementing policies, regulations, and guidelines to ensure environmental protection and sustainable development. These bodies play a crucial role in monitoring and managing environmental issues nationwide. Read to learn more.
The Supreme Court issued guidelines to ensure the effective functioning of environmental bodies to uphold the Environmental Rule of Law.
Environmental Rule of Law integrates essential elements of the rule of law with environmental governance.
The court also approved the notification of the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) under Section 3(3) of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
Guidelines for environmental regulatory bodies
The Supreme Court also said India has myriad regulators, bodies, and authorities engaged in protecting ecology, forests, and wildlife, but their scrutiny has been felt to be insufficient.
Many a time, despite these environmental bodies, the apex court was left to battle alone to create a critical mass of environmental jurisprudence over the years.
Hence certain guidelines were laid down by the apex court in this regard:
- Lay down the composition of bodies and service conditions of members.
- Certain and clear sources of finances.
- Clear demarcation of mandate and role.
- Notify rules, regulations, and guidelines in regional languages, to the extent possible.
- Regular and systematic audit.
- Notify norms for public hearings, the process of decision-making, etc.
Central Empowered Committee (CEC)
It was initially constituted as an ad hoc body through SC’s order in TN Godavarman vs Union of India (1996).
- In September 2023, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) notified CEC as a permanent statutory body under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
- Its main function is to monitor the implementation of SC’s orders on environmental issues.
- The CEC will have jurisdiction in the whole of India.
Environmental regulatory bodies in India
Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC)
- The MoEFCC is the primary government body responsible for formulating and implementing policies and programs related to environmental conservation, biodiversity, forest management, and climate change.
Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)
- The CPCB is a statutory organization under the MoEFCC and acts as the apex body for controlling and preventing pollution. It formulates standards for pollution control, conducts research, and coordinates environmental monitoring across the country.
State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs)
- Each state in India has its own SPCB, responsible for implementing environmental laws and regulations within the respective state or union territory. SPCBs work in coordination with the CPCB to address local environmental issues.
National Biodiversity Authority (NBA)
- The NBA operates under the MoEFCC and focuses on the conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of its components, and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of biological resources.
Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA)
- The CGWA, under the Ministry of Jal Shakti, is responsible for regulating and managing groundwater resources in the country. It formulates guidelines for the sustainable use of groundwater and issues NOCs for industries and projects that require groundwater extraction.
Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB)
- The WCCB, under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, focuses on combating organized wildlife crime. It works to prevent illegal trade in wildlife and their products.
Animal Welfare Board of India
- The Animal Welfare Board of India is a statutory advisory body on Animal Welfare Laws and promotes animal welfare in the country. It was established in 1962 under Section 4 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 the Animal Welfare Board of India was started under the stewardship of Late Smt. Rukmini Devi Arundale, well a well-known humanitarian. It aims to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals, in terms of the provision of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960.
Forest Survey of India (FSI)
- The FSI, an organization under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, conducts surveys and assessments of forest resources. It plays a vital role in monitoring changes in forest cover and biodiversity.
Central Zoo Authority
- The Central Zoo Authority is the body of the Government of India responsible for oversight of zoos. It is an affiliate member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The CZA was formed to bring Indian zoos up to international standards.
National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI)
- NEERI, a research institute under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), conducts research and provides technical expertise in the field of environmental science and engineering.
Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE)
- ICFRE is responsible for coordinating forestry research and education in India. It plays a significant role in promoting sustainable forest management practices.
National Green Tribunal (NGT)
- The NGT is a judicial body established to handle environmental protection and conservation cases. It has the authority to hear cases and deliver judgments on matters concerning environmental laws.
Genetic Engineering Advisory Committee
- It works under the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. It originated from the rules for manufacturing, importing, exporting, and storing hazardous microorganisms or genetically engineered organisms or Cells. This environmental organization approves field trials for genetically modified crops and can take punitive action for noncompliance. It also appraises the large-scale use of catastrophic micro-organisms and industrial production from an environmental perspective.
Significance of environmental regulatory bodies
The need for these regulatory bodies stems from various environmental challenges and the recognition of the importance of responsible environmental management.
- Pollution control: Regulatory bodies, such as the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs), formulate and enforce standards to control air and water pollution. This is crucial for safeguarding public health and maintaining environmental quality.
- Conservation of natural resources: Bodies like the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) work to conserve and sustainably use biological diversity, protecting ecosystems and maintaining ecological balance. The Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) regulates and manages groundwater resources to prevent over-extraction and depletion.
- Hazardous Waste Control: Regulatory bodies oversee the proper disposal and management of hazardous waste, preventing soil and water contamination.
- E-Waste Management: With the increasing use of electronic products, there’s a need for regulations to manage electronic waste responsibly.
- Climate change mitigation: Bodies like the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) formulate policies and strategies to address climate change issues, encouraging sustainable practices and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
- Wildlife conservation: Agencies like the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) work to combat illegal wildlife trade, protecting endangered species and preserving biodiversity.
- Sustainable Forest Practices: Organizations like the Forest Survey of India (FSI) and the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) contribute to sustainable forest management, ensuring the conservation of forests and their resources.
- Legal enforcement and adjudication: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) acts as a legal forum to address environmental disputes and ensure the effective enforcement of environmental laws.
The environmental regulatory bodies work collaboratively to address diverse environmental challenges, including air and water pollution, deforestation, biodiversity loss, and climate change, ensuring a balance between economic development and environmental sustainability.
- Environmental laws in India
- Environmental conventions and protocols
- Water pollution prevention
- Environmental impact assessment
-Article by Swathi Satish