New Delhi: Environmentalists are up in arms over what they consider as failure of the government to review the National Environment Policy (NEP) for the last four years.
The NEP was formulated by the Union Cabinet in 2006 to act as a ready reckoner for guidelines to both centre and state-run environment conservation and pollution control bodies.
A senior Environment Ministry official said the policy could not be renewed due to delayed response by various stake holders that include central ministries.
"The policy has not been renewed as some of the ministries have not yet given their responses on its implementation," he said requesting anonymity.
The official said many reminders have been sent to stakeholders for their responses. "Some of the ministries have sent us their feedback while we are awaiting response from others," he added.
The NEP was the outcome of extensive consultations with experts in different disciplines, central ministries, Members of Parliament, state governments, industry associations, academic and research institutions, civil society, NGOs and the public.
As the policy outlines a significant number of new and continuing initiatives for enhancing environmental conservation, a formal, periodic high-level review of implementation of different elements of the National Environment Policy is essential.
"This would enhance accountability of the different public agencies responsible for implementation...Accordingly, the Cabinet or a nominated Committee of the Cabinet may be requested to review the implementation of the National Environment Policy, once a year, within three months from the close of the previous fiscal year," the NEP document said.
"The findings of the review should be publicly disclosed so that stakeholders are assured of the seriousness of the Government in ensuring implementation of the Policy," it said.
"The Policy helps government to decide on major issues like giving clearance on setting up of mining or environmental projects. But its absence poses a question mark on the government`s efforts and causes great concern," said Ajay Dubey, an environmentalist.
Another eminent environment activist Proloy Bagchi said, "Environment policy is essential. It should be upgraded and reviewed to check many critical environmental issues like sand mining and industrial pollution."