National conference to finalise changes in environment laws

The government will hold a two-day national conference next week as a final step of consultations before bringing amendments in existing green laws and also launch a comprehensive National Air Quality Index to inform people about air quality.

PTI| Last Updated: Mar 31, 2015, 22:45 PM IST
National conference to finalise changes in environment laws

New Delhi: The government will hold a two-day national conference next week as a final step of consultations before bringing amendments in existing green laws and also launch a comprehensive National Air Quality Index to inform people about air quality.

Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar Tuesday said the conference, which will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who will also launch the Index, will be attended by environment ministers and scientists from across the states.

Javadekar said that the Ministers and officials will brainstorm on proposed changes in the six environment laws apart from reflecting upon "simplification" of existing processes and ensure "strict" compliance of green norms.

"After the April 6-7 conference, we will finalise our recommendations, prepare the cabinet note and bring it before the cabinet so that the bills as amended can be brought in the second half of Parliament session," he said.

The Minister also said that the National Air Quality Index - one colour, one number and one description - will be launched to inform public about air quality in "simple and understandable form".

"On real time basis, from that day, AQI would be available in ten cities. 46 cities with million plus population and other 20 state capitals will be covered in the next couple of years. This would enhance public awareness and involvement in air quality improvement," he told reporters.

Javadekar said a copy of the latest Tiger census report will be presented to the Prime Minister during the conference.

Giving details of the conference, he said the first day will have two sessions each on 'Waste to Wealth' and 'Ease of doing business and TSR report'.

"The processes need to be made simpler and norms stricter so that delay is avoided. We will issue new rules regarding, solid waste, liquid waste, e-waste, hazardous waste, plastic waste, bio-waste, medical waste etc," he said adding that the session will also be important in the context of making "Swacch Bharat Mission" successful.

The final responses on review of all six environment laws will come in this conference as there will be open discussion between state and central government officials on various environment issues.

The six laws that govern environment, forest and wildlife related issues are Environment (Protection) Act, Forest (Conservation) Act, Wildlife (Protection) Act, Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act and Indian Forest Act.

Government had constituted a high-level committee headed by T S R Subramaniam to review various environment laws in order to bring them in line with "current requirements".

The committee has already submitted its recommendations, a key of which is to review environment laws.

He informed that there will be three break-out sessions on issues related to forest wildlife and GIM issues, pollution related issues and issues related to bio-diversity and climate change, including eco-sensitive zones and Western Ghats.

As air and water pollution directly impact the health of the people and need stringent action, there will be a separate four-hour deliberation on the issue during the Conference, he said.

Simplification of processes without compromising any environmental concerns, like the Terms of Reference (TOR) process which at present takes one and a half years, will be addressed in the conference.

"The TOR process takes one or one and a half years. We are standardising those processes and norms. That will save time as people will get it in 30 days," Javadekar said.

There will be a presentation on the use of new technologies being undertaken in forest, wildlife and pollution management.

"A film will be shown on how drones are used, electronic surveillance is done through towers, use of internet to see live activities and satellite monitoring of crops etc," he informed.