Proposal to Establish All-India Environment Service

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    In Context 

    • Recently, the Supreme Court issued notice to the Centre on a plea seeking the establishment of ‘Indian Environment Service’.

    About 

    • The creation of India Environment Service (IES) was recommended by a committee headed by former Cabinet Secretary TSR Subramanian in 2014.
    • Currently, matters of environmental regulation rest on scientists recruited into the Ministry of Environment and Forests as well as bureaucrats from the Indian Administrative Services (IAS). 
    • The apex court expressed reluctance at getting into administrative matters of the Government but asked the Centre if it expects to go about constituting such a mechanism.

    Need of IES/ Issues 

    • The constant environmental degradation, ecological imbalance, climate change, water scarcity, etc. are a great concern for India. 
    • There is a lack of effective coordination amongst Ministries and Intuitions on the issues of environmental concern and also a dearth of trained personnel in administration, policy formulation and policy implementation.
      • Current approval systems and monitoring mechanisms function in a quasi-amateurish manner, leading to suboptimal management of environmental issues.
    • The creation of the All India Service “Indian Environment Service” is the need of the hour which will act as an expert group to man positions in this field in the public and quasi-governmental sectors over the next decades.
    • Looking at the current administrative set-up, it can be inferred that the government servants might not be able to spare special time for environmental causes.
      • Reasons: Lack of trained personnel involved in the administration, policy formulation, and supervising the implementation of policies.
      • India had a strong environmental policy and legislative framework but weak implementation.
    • This would put emphasis on  the importance of a green economy and sustainable development and right to a clean environment under Article 21.

    What is the T.S.R Subramanian committee report on the environment?

    • About
      • It  was set up in August 2014 to review the country’s green laws and the procedures followed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC). 
      • It suggested several amendments to align with the Government’s economic development agenda.
        •  It had suggested amendments to almost all green laws, including those relating to the environment, forest, wildlife and coastal zone clearances. 
      • Later, the  Parliamentary Standing Committee rejected the report because it ended up diluting key aspects of environmental legislation designed to protect the environment
      • The committee suggested that another committee, with more expertise and time, be constituted to review the environmental laws.
    • Recommendations Made:
      • The report proposed an ‘Environmental Laws (Management) Act’ (ELMA), that envisioned full-time expert bodies—National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) and State Environmental Management Authority (SEMA)—to be constituted at the Central and State levels respectively to evaluate project clearance (using technology and expertise), in a time-bound manner, providing for single-window clearance. 
      • To accelerate the environmental decision-making process, they suggested a “fast track” procedure for “linear projects (roads, railways and transmission lines), power and mining projects and for “projects of national importance.”
      • The Air Act and the Water Act is to be subsumed within the Environment Protection Act.
      •  The existing Central Pollution Control Board and the State Pollution Control Boards, which monitor and regulate the conditions imposed on the industries to safeguard the environment, are proposed to be integrated into NEMA and SEMA once the new bodies come into existence.
      • The report also recommends that an “environmental reconstruction cost” should be assessed for each project based on the damage caused by it to the environment and this should be added to the cost of the project. 
        • This cost has to be recovered as a cess or duty from the project proponent during the life of the project. 
      • It proposed a National Environment Research institute “on the lines of the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education” to bring in the application of high-end technology in environmental governance and finally.
      • An Indian Environment Service may be created, as an all-India Service, based on qualifications and other details prescribed by MoEF&CC/ DoPT/ UPSC.”

    Way Ahead

    • The constant degradation of our ecosystem needs special attention from the Civil Service as well as from the part of the government.
    • In order to maintain a balance between the two, an Indian Environmental Service Academy can be set up, in order to train officers for enforcing environmental laws.

    Source:TH