Environmental Legislation in India (Part-2) Detailed Notes

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 13th, 2023

In this article, we will look at the important Environmental Legislations and discuss the main features of such legislation. This is a very important topic for UPSC and State PCS prelims as well as the Main Exam because of the increasing number of questions from the environment section and also due to their increasing relevance in the wake of rising Environmental Awareness in the country.

Biodiversity Act 2000

  • It was introduced in the Parliament in 2000 and was passed in 2002.
  • It was enacted to regulate the access to biological resources to ensure equitable sharing of benefits arising from their use.
  • Its objective is to protect India’s rich biodiversity and associated knowledge against their use by foreign individuals and organizations without sharing the benefits.
  • It seeks to check biopiracy, protect biological diversity and local growers through a three-tier structure.
  • The Act provides for the setting up of a National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) at the central level, State Biodiversity Boards (SBBs) at the state level and Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) in local bodies.
  • NBA and SBB are required prior consultation with BMCs in decisions relating to the use of biological resources or related knowledge within their jurisdiction.
  • NBA has the power of a civil court.
  • BMCs main work is to promote conservation, sustainable use and documentation of biodiversity.
  • All foreign nationals/organizations require prior approval of the NBA for using biological resources and associated knowledge.
  • Indian individuals /entities need the approval of the NBA for transferring results of their biological research to foreign nationals/organizations.
  • Indian legal person has free access to use biological resources within the country for their own use, medicinal and research purposes.
  • Prior approval of the NBA will be needed for applying any form of IPRs (Intellectual Property Rights) in or outside India for an invention based on research on a biological resource obtained from India.
  • National Biodiversity Fund (NBF) to be used for the conservation and development of areas from where the resource has been accessed.
  • There is provision for declaring National Heritage Sites important from viewpoint of biodiversity by State Governments in consultation with local self-government.

The Energy Conservation Act of 2001

  • Indian Government enacted the Energy Conservation Act in the year 2001 as a step towards improving energy efficiency and reducing its wastage.
  • It specifies
    • energy consumption standards for equipment and appliances
    • prescribes energy consumption norms and standards for consumers
    • prescribes energy conservation building codes for commercial buildings 
    • establishes a compliance mechanism for energy consumption norms and standards.
  • Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) was operationalized to implement the various provisions of the EC Act. 

The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010

  • India vowed the participating states in Rio de Janeiro summit 1992 to provide judicial and administrative remedies for the victims of the pollutants and other environmental damage.
  • It was enacted under the provisions of Article 21 of India’s constitutional which give Right to a healthy environment to its citizens.
  • It is an Act passed by the Parliament of India. It enables the creation of NGT to expedite disposal of the cases related to environmental issues. NGT have to dispose of the cases within six months of their appeals.
  • NGT has Original Jurisdiction on matters related to “substantial question of the environment”.
  • Members
    • The sanctioned strength is currently 10 expert members and 10 judicial members while the act allows for up to 20 of each.
    • The Chairman of the tribunal will be serving or retired Chief Justice of a High Court or a judge of the Supreme Court of India.he is also the administrative head of the tribunal and serves as a judicial member.
    • Every bench of the tribunal should consist of at least one expert member and one judicial member.

The Coastal Regulation Zone Notifications

  • Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) is the coastal stretches of seas, estuaries, creeks, lagoon, bays, rivers and backwaters which are influenced by tidal action.
  • There is an institutional mechanism for enforcement and monitoring of the CRZ Notification -National Coastal Zone Management Authority (NCZMA) and State Coastal Zone Management Authority (SCZMA) 
  • They have powers to take various action for preventing, abating and controlling environmental pollution in coastal areas and protecting and improving the quality of the coastal environment.
  • They get their power from section 5 of the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986.
  • Under this, coastal area has been classified as. 
    • CRZ-1: these are ecologically sensitive areas which are essential in maintaining the ecosystem of the coast. They lie in between low and high tide line. It permitted Exploration of natural gas and extraction of salt.
    • CRZ-2: It forms up to the shoreline of the coast. Unauthorized structures are not allowed to construct.
    • CRZ-3: rural as well as urban localities which fall outside the CRZ 1 and CRZ 2. Only certain activities related to agriculture, some public facilities are allowed.
    • CRZ-4: This zone lies in the aquatic regions up to the territorial limits. Fishing and allied activities are allowed in this zone. Solid waste should not be dump here.
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Forest Rights Act, 2006

  • Its original name is The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.
  • FRA is a tool
    • To empower and strengthen the local self-governance
    • To address the livelihood security of the citizens
    • To address the issues of Conservation & management of the Natural Resources and conservation governance of India.
  • For the first time, this Act recognizes and secures
    • Rights of Community in addition to their individual rights
    • Right to protect, conserve, manage or regenerate any community forest resource which is traditionally protected and conserved for sustainable use.
    • Right to intellectual property(IP) and traditional knowledge related to cultural diversity and biodiversity.
    • Rights of displaced communities and Rights over developmental activities
  • Nodal Agency for the implementation this act is Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA). But the FRA identifies Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) as the agency to notify the guidelines related to its usage.
  • It recognizes the forest rights of other traditional forest dwellers given that they have resided in for at least three generations prior to 13.12.2005 and have depended on the forests for their livelihood needs.
  • 4 ha of forest land is the maximum limit for recognizing rights.
  • National Parks and Sanctuaries along with Reserve Forest, Protected Forests have been included for the recognition of Rights.
  • It provides the right of ownership access to collect, use and dispose of minor forest produce by the tribals. Minor forest produce involves all non-timber forest produce like leaves, fruits, herbs etc.
  • The rights conferred under it are heritable but are not alienable or transferable.
  • Gram Sabha has got the designation of the competent authority for initiating the process of determining the nature and extent of individual or community forest rights i.e. Nistar.
  • It also envisaged The Critical Wildlife Habitats (CWH). Forest rights are settled under the Forests Rights Act before a CWH can be declared in an area.
  • CWH is defined as the “areas of national parks and sanctuaries where it has been specifically and clearly established, case by case, on the basis of scientific and objective criteria, that such areas are required to be kept as inviolate for the purposes of wildlife conservation”.
  • In order to notify a Critical Wildlife Habitat, the Act requires state governments to establish that the presence of right-holders is causing irreversible damage to wildlife and their habitats. 
  • There need a gram sabha’s free informed consent before any relocation of projected affected people is carried out.
  • In March 2017, the NTCA (National Tiger Conservation Authority) issued an order to deny forest rights in critical tiger habitats (core areas of tiger reserves) in the absence of CWH guidelines.

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