Appeal To State Governments Not To Support Environmental “reforms” Proposed By Indian Ministry Of Environment, Forests & Climate Change Based On The Controversial TSR Subramanian Committee Report


Several States have opposed the proposed Reforms, echoing concerns raised in the Appeal

3 April 2015
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Endorsed Appeal to State Governments not to support Union Govt’s Environmental Reforms based on Subramanian Committee
Agenda of MoEF Environment and Forest Ministers Conference, April 2015 Appeal to State Governments not to support Subramanian Committee based Environment Reforms – Kannada

 

The Indian Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change organised a Conclave of Environment Ministers, Environment Secretaries, Chairpersons of Pollution Control Boards/Committees of all States and Union Territories, 6-8 April 2015 at Delhi. This Conclave was addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the key purpose was  to urge State Governments to support environmental “reforms” proposed by the Union Environment Ministry based on the highly controversial recommendations of “Report of High Level Committee to review Acts administered by Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change” (also known as the T S R Subramanian Committee report).

 

We consider the proposed “reforms” are highly regressive and would result in irreversible damage to environment and human rights, and compromise ecological security of present and future generations. Very strong reasons why the Government must be discouraged from moving forward with these reform proposals are provided in a comprehensive critique of the Subramanian Committee report by ESG, entitled “A Non-trivial Threat to India’s Ecological and Economic Security” accessible at: http://tinyurl.com/pkbfpmw, and an article entitled “A hasty, half-baked report on environmentby former Union Water Resources Secretary Ramaswamy Iyer, accessible at: http://tinyurl.com/mqpx4av.

 

Enclosed is a Representation to Chief Ministers and Environment Ministers of all States, Secretaries and Chairpersons of Pollution Control Boards, urging them to impress upon the Prime Minister that environmental reforms in India must only be undertaken after due and legitimate nation-wide consultations and based on a deeply democratic processes, and not, as is the case now, an outcome of the highly in-transparent and undemocratic recommendations of the Subramanian Committee subordinating environmental considerations to economic growth.

 

State Governments and the Indian Government must be pressurised to back down from moving forward with these proposed ecologically disastrous “reforms”.  Already, several States have opposed the proposed reforms, and some links to news reports are provided below.

 

Bhargavi S. Rao and Leo F. Saldanha

Environment Support Group

 

 

Panel Report Not in Sync with SC Norms, The New Indian Express, 7th April 2015 

 

Centres Proposed Environmental Steps Draw Flak From Activists, The New Indian Express, 8th April 2015

 

NGO calls states to reject proposed reforms in environmental laws, Business Standard, 7th April 2015

 

Govt plan to amend green laws may run into opposition, Times of India, 5th April 2015

 

Letter to State Governments with Endorsements

 

Respected Chief Ministers, Environment Ministers and Secretaries of States of India and Chairpersons of Pollution Control Boards:

 

We write seeking your immediate attention to certain proposals of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change to reform environmental decision making in India. We consider these “reforms” to be highly regressive and would cause irreversible damage to environment and human rights.

 

As you are aware the Environment Ministry accepted the recommendations of the highly controversial “Report of High Level Committee to review Acts administered by Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change” (also known as the T S R Subramanian Committee report). The Committee’s recommendations are oriented towards promoting unprecedented access to land, water and other natural resources to large corporate bodies and to pave the way for mega infrastructure, industrial and urban projects. Keen on ensuring that all State Governments support the Ministry’s “reforms” agenda, the Union Environment Minister Mr. Prakash Javadekar has called for a conclave of State Environment Ministers, Environment Secretaries and Chairpersons of Pollution Control Boards in Delhi, 6-8 April 2015, which will be addressed by Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi.

 

The Subramanian Committee was one of the first major policy initiatives of the National Democratic Alliance government headed by Prime Minister Modi. The purpose of the Committee was to draft “specific amendments needed in each of these Acts so as to bring them in line with current requirements to meet objectives”. Neither the Government nor the Committee cared to explain or clarify what this phrase meant. While preparing its report, the Committee held secretive consultations with corporate bodies and lobby groups, some state governments (not all), and held public consultations in a few cities which can best be described as tokenistic. The Committee submitted its report to the Prime Minister on 27th November 2014, barely 3 months after it had been constituted.

 

The Committee proposes sweeping changes to environmental, forest and biodiversity protection laws of India, proposes new laws to manage old laws, and promotes the establishment of a slew of new bureaucracies and the dismantling of decades-old regulatory institutions such as the Pollution Control Boards. The Committee shockingly proposes that industries must be allowed to self-regulate on a self-certification model based on “utmost good faith”, completely ignoring the disastrous experience India has had, most painfully being experienced by the people of Bhopal. The Subramanian Committee recommendations are not supported by any empirical evidence and appear to have been largely an outcome of opinions held by the Committee members and those they met with. And in stark contrast with well established norms for functioning of such High Level Committees, the Subramanian Committee has, admittedly, not kept any documentation of its process, who it met with, or even minuted its proceedings and the costs incurred.

 

Implications of the Subramanian Committee Report:

 

If the Subramanian Committee recommendations are accepted by the Centre and the States, prevailing environmental decision making norms and regulations will be grossly diluted, made extremely undemocratic, in-transparent and highly centralised. The very pillars on which India’s environmental jurisprudence stands today will be shaken as is evident from Section 3 of the new Environmental Laws Management Act proposed which seeks to make redundant various progressive judgments of the Supreme Court, High Court and National Green Tribunal advancing environmental and social justice.

 

The Committee also proposes that critical safeguards now available to natural resource dependent and forest dwelling communities and other vulnerable project impacted communities, such as the statutory requirement to involve them and seek their consent in environmental decision making and diversion of forest land, would be sidestepped so that investors could secure “speedy” environmental and forest clearances. In effect, the Committee’s focus has been to make environmental and social justice considerations subsidiary to business and investment priorities.

 

Such “reforms” would result in colossal and irreplaceable loss of biodiversity and associated traditional knowledge, destruction of sensitive ecosystems (with an emphasis on protecting only forests with over 70% canopy cover), increase the rate of species extinction, and threaten, disrupt, dislocate and displace pastoral, farming, coastal and other natural resource dependent communities. Floodgates for reckless exploitation of natural resources would be opened as clearances to projects would be accorded largely based on investment criteria. Extensive violation of human rights are thus likely to become the norm.

 

Centre-State relationships will also be adversely affected as the Union Environment Minister has accepted the Subramanian Committee proposals to establish National and State Environmental Management Agencies the configuration and management of which will be decided by the Centre. The critical role of Local Governments in environmental management and conservation has been comprehensively ignored, disregarding Constitutional mandates (in particular Articles 243 ZD, ZE and the 11th and 12th Schedules of the Constitution) which require the tier of governance closest to the people must be integrally involved in decisions about environment and natural resources.

 

While reforms are indeed required for environmental decision making in India, the objective has to be to safeguard public interest and the quality of our environment, and not, as is now proposed, to promote economic growth causing irreversible damage to ecological security of present and future generations. In the forthcoming Conclave, we urge you to impress upon the Government of India that environmental reforms must be an outcome of deeply democratic nation-wide debates and discussions, in which all agencies of Local, State and Central governments can meaningfully participate, and where the voices of peoples from all over the country, especially those who live in environmentally sensitive and stressful areas, and from all sectors, are heard, documented and rationally considered.

 

With that in mind, we urge you to reject the “reforms” proposed by the Union Government on the basis of the recommendations of the Subramanian Committee.

 

 

Signed: 

 

 

Name

Title

Affiliation

Place

Leo F. Saldanha

Coordinator/Trustee

Environment Support Group

Bangalore

Bhargavi S. Rao

Coordinator (Edu)/Trustee

Environment Support Group

Bangalore

Jai Prakash Alva

 

Board Member

 

Board Member

Karnataka State Pollution Control Board

 

Karnataka, India

Dr Claude Alvares

Director

The Goa Foundation

 

Prof J G Krishnayya

Professor

 

Dire, Systems Research Institute

Pune, India

Wilfred D’costa

 

Indian Social Action Forum – INSAF

New Delhi, India

Souparna Lahiri, Soumitra Ghosh, et al

 

All India Forum of Forest Movements

India

Roger Moody

 

Nostromo Research

London, UK

 

Don Anton

 

Professor of International Law & Adjunct Professor of Law

 

 

Griffith Law School, Griffith University & The Australian National University College of Law

 

Queensland, Australia

Juli Cariappa

 

Krishi Pandit

Mysore, India

Soumya Dutta

 

 

Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha /

Beyond Copenhagen collective / 

India Climate Justice

 

Laishram Malem Mangal

 

Assistant Professor

 

Royal Academy of Law

 

Manipur, India

M K Ramesh

Professor

National Law School of India University

Bangalore

M K Mathew

 

Professor

 

Laboratory of Membrane Biophysics

National Centre for Biological Sciences, TIFR

 

Bangalore, India

Anuradha Mittal

Executive Director

Oakland Institute

California, USA

Aruna Chandrasekhar

Researcher, Business and Human Rights

Amnesty International India. 

 

 

Bangalore/Mumbai, India

Rebecca Kurian

 

Retired teacher

 

Bangalore, India

Narasimha Reddy Donthi, Ph.D

Advisor

Cotton Advisory Board

Hyderabad

Jayalakshmi K

 

Journalist

Bangalore

Biswajit K. Bora

 

 

University of New Delhi

New Delhi, India

Dr Santanu Ghosh MD

Assistant Professor,
Dept of Community Medicine

Bankura Sammilani Medical College

Bankura
West Bengal

Neela Jayaraman

Master of Social Work Candidate 2016

Boston College

 

 

Nitin Gujaran

 

 

Massachusetts, USA

Madhusree Mukerjee

 

 

 

Frankfurt, Germany

Dr Rukmini Rao

 

Executive Director

 

Gramya Resource Centre for Women

 

Secunderabad, India

N. Jayaram

 

Independent Journalist and Translator

 

 

Bangalore, India

Xavier Dias

 

Editor

Khan Kaneej Aur ADHIKAR

(Mines minerals & RIGHTS)

 

 

Mumbai, India

Nityanand Jayaraman

 

 

Writer and social activist

 

 

Chennai, India

Syed Tanveeruddin

 

Green/Environmental, RTI, Human Rights and Social Activist

 

 

Mysore, India

Iqbal Ahmed

Dy.Director, Acharya Institutes, Bangalore

Former Chairman, Computer Society of India

Former Advisory Committee Member, Cyber Security,

Dept. of IT, BT , S & T, Govt. of Karnataka.

 

 

Bangalore

Vinay K Sreenivasa

 

 

Alternative Law Forum

Bangalore, India

Dhritiman Chaterji

 

 

 

Chennai, India

Ritu Khanna

 

Freelance translator

 

 

NewDelhi, India

Dr Adithya Pradyumna

 

 

 

MBBS, MPH (London), PGDip (Environment)

Research and Training Assistant

Society for Community Health Awareness Research and Action (SOCHARA)

 

Bangalore, India

Dr. Prashanth N S

 

 

 

 

 

BR Hills, India

Vivek Cariappa

 

Krishi Pandit

Mysore, India

Pradeep Esteves

 

 

Context India

 

 

Bangalore, India

Simpreet Singh

 

 

 

Right to the City Campaign-India

 

Mumbai, India

S.S.Rajani

Consultant

 

Bangalore, India

Koodali Thazhathveetil Jaidip

 

Shipping professional

 

 

Bangalore, India

M.Venkatesh

 

 

 

 

Bangalore, India

Dr. Debal Deb

 

 

Basudha

Kolkata, India

P SRINIVAS  

 

 

SOIL  &  SOW AGAINST GMOs

 

Bangalore, India

Feroza Saran

Member

Pune Tree Watch

 

Arnab Sen

 

Anthropologist

 

New Delhi/Kolkata, India

Vijay Pratap

 

South Asian Dialogues on Ecological Democracy

 

R.Selvam,

 

Co-ordinator

Tamil Nadu Organic Farmers Federation

 

Erode, India

R. Ashok Kumar

Negentropist

Bombay Sarvodaya Mandal

Mumbai, India

Ramit Basu

 

Independent Development Consultant

 

 

 

Sridhar

 

 

Bangalore, India

L.Mohana Rengan

 

Individual

 

Tumkur, India

Santosh Shintre

 

 

Pune, India

Dhyan Appachu

 

Private Individual

Bangalore, India

Lingaraj Dinni 

 

Resident association Jt secretary

 

 

Bangalore, India

Col S Thomas

 

 

 

Bangalore, India

Madhusudan. S

 

 

Bangalore, India

Siddhartha P Sarma

 

 

 

Bangalore, India

Ajoy Chawla

 

 

 

 

Bangalore, India

P R Ramesh

 

Association for Democratic Reforms

 

Bangalore, India

T. V. Jagadisan

 

 

 

 

Raghuram RP

 

 

 

Ramdas Rao

 

 

Peoples Union of Civil Liberties

Bangalore, India

Ranitendranath Tagore

 

 

 

Joseph Mattam

 

 

 

 

Ashok Rao

 

 

 

Asha Shivaram

 

 

Self-help

 

Sunder Muthanna

 

 

Advertising Professional

Bangalore

K. S. Parthasarathy

 

 

 

 

Dr.  P. B. M.  Basaiawmoit

 

Consultant

 

North East Dialogue Forum (NEDF)

 

Nagarajan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kumaran A

Microsoft Research Lab

 

Bangalore

Dominique Garrel

 

 

France

G C Mathur

 

Convenor-Trustee Treasurer

 

Binty- Consumer Organisation

Delhi

Deba Ranjan

Writer and Film Maker

 

Bhubaneswar, Orissa

Gautam Sonti

Documentary Film Maker

 

Bangalore

Sujit Patwardhan

Trustee

Parisar

Pune

Lyla Mehta

Professor

Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex

 

Brighton, UK

  Suresh P.Verma

President, Science For Society, Bihar

 

President

Science for Society

Bihar

Vipul Veera

 

 

 

Harsh Vardan

Conservationist

 

Jaipur

Samar Bagchi

 

Former Director, Birla Industrial & Technological Museum, Kolkata looking after 5 science museums of Eastern India under National Council of Science Museums, an educational, environmental & social activist.

 

Kolkota

M.Venkatesh

 

 

 

Bangalore

Sridhar Raman

 

Mapunity

Bangalore

campaigns,biodiversity,environmental reforms,Javadekar,TSR Subramanian Committee

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