Environmental law in India has always been a contentious issue. While the Indian government has certainly created laws that protect the massive landscape of the South Asia, they are all too often disregarded by indifferent consumers or businesses that have never bought into the concept of a corporate social responsibility.
In recent years a number of commercial enterprises have burgeoned at the cost of the environment. Agricultural land has been sold off to real estate developers and commercial enterprise who are rapidly replacing the country’s farmlands and forests with malls and multiplex theaters. Even though individuals are not allowed to purchase agricultural land unless they are farmers by occupations and can demonstrate a commitment to agricultural production, many wealthy Indians continue to buy up farm and orchard land only to convert it into private estate homes.
Beyond this, the quality of air and water has declined significantly with a rise in tourism and industrial activity over the last decade. The state of Kerala, home to South India’s famous backwaters has long been under scrutiny by the local pollution board for releasing carbon emissions thanks to gas powered houseboats that offer touists a popular way to explore its canals. Factories all over the country continue to release toxic sewage into the environment endangering the health of India’s waterways and polluting her air.
No Transparency in Legislation
But when asked, most Indians will tell you that there is no transparency between what the government stipulates and what laypeople understand. On the face of it, this might appear to be a defensive statment, however there is some truth to this claim. Much of Indian law is dubious and unclear. So much so that in 2005, the government passed the Right to Information (RTI) Act which critically transformed the way citizens can seek transparency in decision making and implementation of policies, programs and legislation in any given sector or particular project. When it comes to environmental governance, RTI undoubtedly is a key advocacy tool.
Environmental Law Database for India
In an effort to make Environmental Law more accessible, Harabara, a green business consultancy and LexSite, an online legal resources website will jointly launch a new Environmental Law Database for India.
HaraBara is a San Francisco based startup company that connects green technology manufacturers and consultants to each other over the internet. The company formally launched its activity focusing on India as it primary target market. LexSite connects legal professionals, law students, businesses and eventually consumers with legal information, resources and services.
“Indian companies are beginning to realize the importance of environmental issues for their business success,” said Dr. David Wheat, Co-Founder of HaraBara. “We intend to provide them with easier access to the resources they need to go green. We are very glad to have LexSite, a leading Indian legal services destination site, as our partner.”
This joint website (http://www.lexsite.com/harabara/environ.php) contains environmental statutes, rules, The Database will provide instant on-line access to the the statutes, rules, bills, cases and guidelines. Plus it provides updates about the most recent laws and notifications and judgments of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India. The database is offered free to members of HaraBara Connect™ India, and by subscription to other users.