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  • Author: Santosh Harish, Shibani Ghosh
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: Air quality was gradually gaining political salience in India in the last few years, but COVID-19 and the deepening economic recession may now change the speed, and possibly the direction, of progress. The aim of this report is to begin the process, even amidst uncertainties, of understanding the effects of the COVID crisis on the air quality discourse in the country, and on the mitigation efforts already underway. We begin with a brief overview of the air quality improvements observed during the lockdown, and then identify some likely implications of the pandemic on how we frame the air quality problem. In view of state actions and public response during the COVID crisis, how should we, if at all, adapt our current framing of air pollution as a public health crisis? In the next section, we discuss broad financial, regulatory and institutional implications: in particular, the need to engage with the available funding channels to initiate and sustain measures to improve air quality amid significant fiscal constraints. There is a worrying erosion of environmental safeguards, which may – in part – be justified as a prerequisite to restarting the economy, and facilitating “ease of doing business”. Given that air quality management in India needs a multi-pronged approach across disparate sources, we then reflect on how the disruptions affect each of the major sources, and the resultant opportunities and challenges.
  • Topic: Environment, Governance, Pollution, Public Health, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Neha Agarwal, Ambarish Karunanithi, Anju Dwivedi
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: The rapid proliferation of toilets under the Swachh Bharat Mission has necessitated the safe collection, conveyance, and treatment of faecal sludge and septage. Accordingly, the National Policy on Faecal Sludge and Septage Management (FSSM), 2017, sets the imperative for streamlining the citywide sanitation service chain. In doing so, it promotes closing of the resources loop through recycling and reuse of treated wastewater and faecal sludge-derived biosolids. The 2017 amendment to the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986, lays down clear standards and guidance for recycling of treated wastewater. However, a regulatory lacuna concerning biosolids -whose use as a fertilizer in agriculture has been shown to enhance crop yields and reduce the burden of synthetic fertilizers - deters local action in accessing opportunities for their recycling formally. This guidance note, reviewing international biosolids regulations, is intended as an aid for policymakers and regulators at the national and state level in developing a standard for biosolids utilization in agriculture which is easy to interpret and implement, promotes their scientific and safe reuse, and ensures the protection of the health of the users, the local communities, the consumers, and the environment at large.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Environment, Health, Sanitation, Recycling
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Vimal Kalavadiya, Vinod Patgar, Vijay Rathod, Mahabaleshwar Hegde, Manju Menon, Krithika A. Dinesh, Hasmukh Dhumadiya, Bharat Patel, Tania Devaiah, Jayendrasinh Ker, Harapriya Nayak, Santosh Dora, Vimal Kalavadiya, Sandeep Patel, Debayan Gupta, Bipasha Paul, Kanchi Kohli
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: The Centre for Policy Research-Namati Environmental Justice Program trains and supports a network of community paralegals or grassroots legal advocates who work with communities affected by pollution, water contamination and other environmental challenges. They use the legal empowerment approach to make communities aware of laws and regulations that can help secure much needed remedies for these problems that often arise out of noncompliance or violation of environmental regulations. As part of their work, the community paralegals write about their cases to create public awareness on the use of law outside of courts as well as engage the readers in these issues. This is an updated collection of published stories written by paralegals and their team members working in coastal Gujarat, Northern Karnataka, Chhattisgarh and Keonjhar, Odisha. These are a combination of case stories and opinion pieces on issues of industrial non-compliance that have adversely affected many local communities. Each article tries to highlight the gap between the law on paper and its implementation in reality, while putting forth the conviction that putting law in the hands of ordinary people can shift the balance of power in support of justice.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Environment, Law, Justice
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: Linear projects like highways have the potential to change existing land use of large areas. These changes are not limited only to the stretches made for transportation of vehicles. The effects of construction are also visible on landscapes on both sides of highways. This study presents the findings of a two-year long groundtruthing study carried out between June 2016 and August 2018 along 187 kilometres of National Highway 66. The study is a collaborative effort of the Centre for Policy Research-Namati Environmental Justice Programme and communities from towns and villages situated between Karwar and Kundapur, especially the 27 Panchayats, in the district of Uttara Kannada in Karnataka. The study presents evidence of non-compliance of environmental safeguards resulting in social, economic and health impacts on the local communities in the project areas. It also highlights several aspects that were not taken into account in the project’s impact assessments. The study includes a broad assessment of the project’s scale of direct impacts. During the course of the study, the following types of non-compliance were identified: Permissions for blasting, groundwater and river water withdrawal were not taken; Dumping soil on wetlands and creeks caused flooding and salt water intrusion; The construction caused soil erosion and landslides along embankments; Non-submission of six-monthly compliance reports by the project proponent; Non-compliance of other laws and compensation agreements; The report includes a case study of a stone crusher unit operating in Bogribail village and causing water and dust pollution.
  • Topic: Development, Environment, Infrastructure, Law, Social Policy, Pollution
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Maanav Kumar, Parag Mohanty
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: This study looks at the development of legal and regulatory framework governing drinking water and sanitation services in South Africa, England and United States. Around 780 million worldwide do not have access to clean drinking water and almost 2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation according to data published by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In such a situation, it becomes extremely important to study the legal and regulatory measures used internationally to control, manage and improve these resources. This study, covering South Africa, England and USA, sets out to identify, comprehend and analyze these legal frameworks and structures; examine the control exercised by national, state/provincial as well as municipal governments over water and sanitation-related questions; and the responsive measures being taken by them to preserve the water resources and their quality for future generations. The authors have observed that in presence of varying geographical, historical and social factors, while it would be impossible to compare each model against the other on the basis of merit, it becomes increasingly important for governments to balance the individual’s right to water with the planet’s ecological balance.
  • Topic: Environment, Government, Natural Resources, Water, Law, Regulation, Legislation, Sanitation
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia, Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: Janabhivyakti, the Centre for Policy Research-Namati Environmental Justice Program and Oxfam India have jointly conducted a groundtruthing study of environmental violations in the Bodai-Daldali bauxite mine located in the Kabirdham district of Chhattisgarh. A groundtruthing study is the process of comparing the facts as mentioned in official documents with the impacts being reported by affected communities. The methodology included undertaking group discussions with the affected communities. During the group discussions, impacts which the communities were facing were discussed first. This was followed by brief discussions on the various laws and institutions which are available for dealing with impacts arising out of environmental violations. The violations were confirmed by government reports and independent research studies. These reports and studies date back to the year 2007, and some of the impacts have been in existence since the beginning of the mining operations, and have been recorded in the aforementioned reports.
  • Topic: Environment, Law Enforcement, Social Policy, Justice
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: The Mormugao Port is located at Vasco bay in the Mormugao taluka of Goa at the point where the Zuari river meets the Arabian Sea. This region is home to thousands of fisherfolk from the Karvi community who live along the beaches of Mormugao, Salcete and Tiswadi talukas. It is a natural harbour that provides safe haven for ships and fishing vessels during storms, like it did in 2017 when cyclone Okchi hit this coast. The lives and livelihood of these fisherfolk are intrinsically linked to the activities of Mormugao port as they have had to share their customary livelihood areas – the sea and the beaches – with the port. This has resulted in them competing for space for their daily activities like fish landing, boat parking, net mending, and even housing with the port and its infrastructure development on the landward side, and competing with larger shipping vessels for navigation space and access to certain parts of Vasco bay. It was in this backdrop, that a community led groundtruthing study was initiated in April 2018 by Old Cross Fishing Canoe Owners Co-op Society Ltd, Baina Ramponkar, Fishing Canoe Owners Society, Destierro Fisherman Association – Vasco, Goenchea Raponkarancho Ekvott (GRE) and the Centre for Policy Research (CPR)-Namati Environmental Justice Program with support from concerned citizens of Vasco and the Federation of Rainbow Warriors.This groundtruthing study is also an attempt by the affected community members to understand the environmental impacts of these berths, link them to the regulatory requirements and then push for compliance of the same.
  • Topic: Environment, Law Enforcement, Law, Regulation
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Arkaja Singh
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: Getting approvals under the various building regulations applicable to any particular jurisdiction is often the first step in construction and development. The Report ‘Building Regulations for Faecal Sludge Management: Review of Building Regulations from Indian States’ seeks to understand how these building regulations address on-site sanitation, what kind of standards do they impose on developers, and how well do they incorporate mechanisms to enforce these standards. In this report, we look at six states: Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh. We also look at other standards that are applicable to on-site containment of Faecal sludge, and the manner in which these standards get incorporated into the building regulations. We find that context-specific attention to On-Site Containment of Faecal Sludge is only given in very few states, at least within our sample size. Usually, Building Regulations seem to rely on already existing standards such as the National Building Code, 2016. Additionally, the inconsistencies within the bye-laws exhibit a lack of understanding on the issue of FSM, amongst the policy-makers. As Faecal Sludge Management is an issue at the interface of environment, sanitation, and public health, a lack of convergence between various departments of the government is also noticed.
  • Topic: Environment, Government, Health, Regulation, Sanitation
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: Contamination of surface water sources due to the discharge of polluting substances has been a long standing problem in most parts of the country. In 1974, a legislation was specifically enacted to regulate and prohibit water pollution. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 established Pollution Control Boards at the Central and State levels and bestowed them with powers to prevent and control water pollution. Aside from the Water Act, there are also other laws which can be used to remediate water pollution. These include, environmental clearance conditions under the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006, public nuisance in the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and the licensing process under the Factories Act, 1948. Along with these, there are also certain state level legislations such as the Orissa River Pollution Prevention Act, 1953. How these laws can be used to find administrative remedies to combat water pollution has been put together in the form of two Information, Education and Communication materials by the Centre for Policy Research-Namati Environmental Justice Program, with support from the Duleep Mathai Nature Conservation Trust. The materials aim to give the reader an understanding of: The existing legislations; The kind of permissions which are needed; The various institutions which are available; The way in which evidence can be collected; The manner in which complaints can be framed; The various administrative remedies which are available; The materials focus on the states of Gujarat, Karnataka, Odisha and Chhattisgarh. Translations of the material are also available in Hindi, Gujarati, Kannada, and Odiya.
  • Topic: Environment, Water, Legislation, Pollution
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: Large parts of the world, irrespective of their level of economic development, are at the cusp of severe environmental crises. In these regions, the operations of extractive projects such as large scale plantations, mining and industrial development have negated or worsened the economic, social and physical well-being of communities in their neighbourhoods and beyond. Their robust national and regional laws and institutions for the protection and governance of the environment and natural resources have remained on paper and the non-compliance by governments and corporations has had profound effects on community livelihoods, health, access to land and quality of life. CPR-Namati's Practice Guide for Environment Justice Paralegals is a step in the direction of closing this environmental enforcement gap. The guide provides a methodology for community mobilisers, activists and citizens groups to shift their attention from stating the problem to getting grievances addressed by environmental institutions. The guide is based on four years of work done by the paralegals of CPR-Namati Environment Justice Program to assist affected communities file complaints and seek remedies in over 150 cases of non-compliance in India. We hope that this guide will help local organisations and community groups to address environmental conflicts and seek useful remedies for affected people.
  • Topic: Development, Environment, Law, Justice
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Krithika A. Dinesh, Meenakshi Kapoor, Kanchi Kohli, Manju Menon, Preeti Venkatram
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: People around the world live in areas that have been altered for industrial, infrastructure or mining projects. Their lives and occupations are being negatively impacted by problems of access, encroachment or pollution. Though governments in many countries have regulatory procedures for implementing environmental and social safeguards that are applicable to such projects so that problems can be minimised or mitigated, the qualitative difference of such regulatory systems depends on the efficacy of their compliance safeguards. Typically, in countries where compliance is low, projects meant for development have also resulted in substantial environmental and social costs. Governments and investors fear the implementation of environmental policies and claim that these are bottlenecks or speed breakers to growth. Several new studies show that stringent compliance of environmental policies will neither affect competitiveness nor slow down GDP growth. On the contrary, it may result in bottom line benefits at the level of projects as well as sustain economic growth by enhancing efficiency and innovation. India promulgated a series of environmental legislations between 1980 and 2005 to ensure that environmental and social impacts of land use change, infrastructure development and industrialisation are kept in check and timely mitigation is undertaken. The laws establish detailed procedures for assessing the environmental impacts of the proposed projects that are likely to cause land use change. The laws also involve the laying of conditions that are attached to the approvals granted to these projects. These conditions are meant to mitigate or prevent damage or impacts to the extent ascertained by the project proponents and the government or regulator. Since the time these laws were first designed, there have been numerous amendments to them to change the scope of applicability of these laws, the time taken by regulators for decision-making and the sharing of responsibility between state and central governments in implementing these laws. However, one aspect of these laws that has seen minimal change is in their monitoring and compliance regimes. What happens to the projects once they are granted approvals? Do they comply with all the conditions imposed on them for mitigating or minimising environmental and social impacts? Who oversees these processes and what is the extent to which compliance is achieved? This report is the outcome of a research project undertaken to understand the efficacy of conditional compliance, institutional monitoring and enforcement of environmental regulations to address the impacts faced by communities living around industrial and infrastructure projects. The project identified the institutions responsible for monitoring and compliance under various environmental laws, their procedures and practices by which these roles are realised. While it has been known that government agencies and regulatory bodies hold the formal duties of monitoring, the project also focused on how affected communities engage these institutions for greater compliance and remedies in case of environmental and social impacts of various kinds, such as encroachment or damage to common or private property, loss of livelihoods and loss of access to public spaces. By analysing the efforts made by affected parties to engage with environmental institutions to craft remedies for existing environmental impacts, this research aims to highlight regulatory ingredients that are necessary for sound environment regulation and better outcomes through compliance. If translated into concrete policy on environmental monitoring and compliance, these lessons could address the chasm between enforcement of environmental regulations and the ever-growing difficulties of meeting environmental challenges.
  • Topic: Environment, Industrial Policy, Natural Resources, Infrastructure, Legislation
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia