Environmental Reforms: Justice for Nature
Environmental issues have been on the political radar for over 50 years, and while the magnitude of expected impacts has hit an all-time high, predictions for the future course and effects of environmental degradation were not any more promising decades ago than they are today. To discuss and understand these issues environmental reforms have been set up not only to increase public awareness but also to work towards solving them effectively.
There are many areas where reform can begin; ranging from air, water, soil, and noise pollution leading to climatic changes, erosion, deforestation, rate of species extinction, etc to excessive use and misuse of natural resources. They could also contribute to poverty reduction and developing goals in developing countries like India.
Taking a look at the present situation, the increased incidence of viruses and another zoonosis can be linked to our heavy environmental footprint. By overexploiting wildlife and degrading ecosystems, we have brought ourselves closer to natural reservoirs of disease and disrupted the processes within ecosystems that keep these diseases in check. We have also destroyed over 85% of the world’s wetlands. Hence, the response to Covid-19 must be a holistic one that recognizes the interconnectedness of nature, human well-being, and the economy.
Some present environmental reforms or policies include:
- The National Environment Act 2019- It primarily addresses emerging environmental issues including climate change, the management of hazardous chemicals, the environmental concerns arising out of petroleum activities, and the management of plastics. It also establishes a specialized unit, the Environmental Protection Force, to handle enforcement.
- E-Waste (Management) Rules 2016, as amended in 2018 (E-Waste Rules)- the objective is to channelize the E-waste generated in the country towards authorized dismantlers and recyclers in order to formalize the e-waste recycling sector. As per the revised targets of e-waste collection, 10% of the quantity of waste generated shall be collected during 2017–2018. Further, there shall be a 10% increase every year until the year 2023. After 2023, the E-Waste collection target has been fixed at 70% of the quantity of waste generation. Separate collection targets have been introduced for new producers who have recently begun their sales operations. These would be producers whose sales operations are lesser than the average life of their product.
- Hazardous and Other Waste (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules 2016, as amended in 2019 (HW Rules)- it banned the import of solid waste into India, electrical and electronic assemblies and components manufactured in and exported from India, if found defective can now be imported back into the country, within a year of export, etc.
- Coastal Regulation Zone Notification (CZR) 2019- this, in particular, has not had a positive impact because the evolution of rules in the CZR paved a way for easier reclamation of land, development of temporary tourism facilities in no development zones to boost tourism, etc which have increased coastal vulnerabilities, coastal erosion, disregard to fragile coastal ecology.
Air pollution being a serious problem in major parts of India, especially in Delhi, the central government implemented the odd and even rule. According to the rule — vehicles with registration numbers ending in odd numbers will be allowed on the roads on odd days and even-numbered vehicles will be allowed on the roads on even days.
It had a very little positive impact as the traffic density alone cannot solve this issue. There are other environmental factors that play a role. However, the impact was seen in terms of reduction in the concentration of some harmful chemical elements like arsenic, copper, lead, phosphorus, and magnesium. These elements when inhaled for very long periods are known to cause many diseases in both humans and animals.
Lastly, the reforms should be designed in a way that involves a large number of public participatory frameworks, an active alliance between government bodies, judicial organizations, corporations, environmental NGOs, grass-root community organizations, the media, and individual citizens. Governments need to accelerate progress in reforming subsidies that harm nature. It can help free up resources while promoting long-term resilience. Introducing and ramping up taxes on activities that harm biodiversity and offer nature-based jobs that can get people back to work quickly while promoting resilient, well-functioning ecosystems for the future.
Contributed By- Umme-Aiman Rampurwala, Content Writer @ Mitti Ke Rang
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