The National Environment Policy (NEP) Draft Policy 2004, cleared by the Cabinet after two years, though propagated as India’s commitment towards a positive contribution to international environmental efforts, actually is a flaw-filled and near moribund attempt.
The crux of NEP revolves around conservation, livelihood security, integration of environment and social development. But a strange Polluter-Pays-Principle (PPP) approach used extensively in this policy has been framed on the hypothesis that altering the price of the polluting commodity (through pollutant tax) would lead to a reduction in consumption of polluting commodity, thus in a reduction in their production. Sadly, studies reveal that these polluting commodities are primarily exported and are consumed by foreign firms which are relatively highly price inelastic, that is, their demand will not get affected by the proposed pollutant tax.
Additionally, the NEP has very strangely ignored the role of state governments in improving environmental standards. This despite the fact that most of the issues under the term ‘environment’ are within the powers of the state legislatures. But the strangest fact is that the NEP has been framed without a proper demographic study, thus clearly ignoring the differences in social lifestyle of people across regions, which decides the method of polluting and level of pollutant added to the environment. Hilariously, the NEP doesn’t even encourage public’s participation in improving the environment. Until all these flaws are corrected, the heading of this article will remain, unfortunately, true!