National Environment Policy: Critical Analysis

The National Environment Policy (NEP) 2006, designed by experts at the national level with extensive cooperation from a number of non- governmental agencies, encompasses an integrated approach to reduce the impact of environmental degradation on human life by taking pro-active measures at various fronts.

 Recommendation of NEP,  2006

The National Environment Policy, 2006 is the outcome of the consultations with different experts in different disciplines, Central Ministries, Members of Parliament, State Governments, Industry Associations, Academic and Research Institutions, Civil Society, NGOs and the Public.

Policies Made In India Before National Environment Policy, 2006

  • Environment Protection Act 1986
  • National Forestry Policy,1988
  • National Conservation Strategy And Statement On Environment And Development,1992
  • Policy Statement On Abatement Of Pollution,1992

Other policies related to environment planning are

  • National Agricultural Policy, 2000
  • National Population Policy,2000
  • National Water Policy, 2002


A diverse developing society like Indian Society provides numerous challenges in the economic, social, political, cultural, and environmental arenas. All of these coalesce in the dominant imperative of alleviation of mass poverty, reckoned in the multiple dimensions of livelihood security, health care, education, empowerment of the disadvantaged, and elimination of gender disparities.

All of these policies which were there before NEP ,2006 have recognized the need for sustainable development in their specific contexts and formulated necessary strategies to give effect to such recognition. This Policy seeks to extend the coverage, and fill in gaps that still exist, in light of present knowledge and accumulated experience. It does not displace, but builds on the earlier policies.

Constitutional Validity Of NEP, 2006

The NEP, 2006 is a response to our national commitment to a clean environment, mandated in the Constitution in Articles 48 A and 51 A (g), strengthened by judicial interpretation of Article 21. It is recognized that maintaining a healthy environment is not the state’s responsibility alone, but also that of every citizen of a state. A spirit of partnership should be realized throughout the spectrum of environmental management. While the state must galvanize its efforts, there should also be recognition by each individual of its responsibility towards maintaining and enhancing the quality of the environment.

Objective Of NEP

These objectives relate to current perceptions of environmental challenges:-

1.     Conservation of Critical Environmental Resources

To protect and conserve critical and damage ecological systems and resources, and invaluable natural and man-made heritage, which are essential for life support, livelihoods, economic growth, and a broad conception of human well-being

2.     Intra-generational Equity: Livelihood Security for the Poor

To ensure equitable access to the environmental resources and quality for all sections of the society, and in particular, to ensure that poor communities, which are most dependent on environmental resources for their livelihoods, are assured secure access to these resources.

3.     Inter-generational Equity

To ensure judicious use of environmental resources to meet the needs and aspirations of the present generation and future generations. So that the future generation does not suffers

4.     Integration of Environmental Concerns in Economic Development and Social Development

To integrate the environmental concerns into policies, plans, programmes, and projects for economic and social development. 

5.     Efficiency in Environmental Resource Use

To ensure efficient use of  the environmental resources in the sense of reduction in their consumption  per unit of economic output, to minimize adverse environmental impacts.

6.     Environmental Governance

 To apply the principles of good governance (like transparency, rationality, accountability, reduction in time and costs, participation, and regulatory independence) to the management and regulation of use of  the environmental resources. 

7.     Enhancement of Resources for Environmental Conservation: 

  1. To ensure higher resource flows
  2. To ensure comprising finance
  3. To ensure technology
  4. To ensure management skills
  5. To ensure traditional knowledge and social capital

Features Of NEP, 2006

  1. The dominant theme of this policy is that while conservation of environmental resources is necessary to secure livelihoods and well-being of all living organism, the most secure basis for conservation is to ensure that people dependent on particular resources obtain better livelihoods from the fact of conservation, than from degradation of the resource
  2. The policy also seeks to stimulate partnerships of different stakeholders, like public agencies, local communities, academic and scientific institutions, the investment community, and international development partners, in the harnessing their respective resources and strengthning for environmental management
  3. Involvement of Panchayati Raj Institutions and urban local bodies has been highlighted.
  4. It also seeks to revisit the Coastal Regulation Zone notifications to make the approach to coastal environmental regulation more holistic and, thereby, ensure protection to coastal ecological systems, waters and the vulnerability of some coastal areas from the extreme natural events and potential sea level rise.
  5. Environmental Impact Assessment will continue to be the principal methodology for appraisal and review of new projects.
  6. To achieve sustainable development, environmental protection shall constitute an integral part of the development process and cannot be considered in isolation from it.


Process Of Formulation Of The Policy

  • The preparation of this Policy has involved inputs and consultations with diverse experts, and stakeholders. 
  • The draft, in English and Hindi was posted on the website of the Ministry of Environment and Forests and responses were invited from individuals and organizations.
  • The draft was open for public consultation from 21 August, 2004 to 31 December, 2004. Consultations were held with concerned Ministries of the Central Government, and all State/UT governments at meetings of the State Environment Ministers and senior officials. The latter were encouraged to undertake local level public consultations. 
  • The draft was also provided to the Members of Parliament and their views and suggestions were invited. 
  • The Ministry of Environment and Forests also held consultations with representatives of major academic and research institutions, and key Industry Associations, Voluntary Organizations, and individuals who are well known in the field. 
  • Detailed summaries of responses were prepared and the various concerns expressed by the respondents were addressed. 
  • Many of the suggestions received have been incorporated in the Policy.

Principle Present In NEP, 2006

·      Public Trust Doctrine

The State is not an absolute owner, it act as a trustee of all natural resources, which  meant for public use and enjoyment, subject to reasonable conditions, necessary to protect the legitimate interest of a large number of  the people, or for the matters of strategic national interest.

·      Legal Liability

The present environmental redressal mechanism is the predominantly based on the doctrines of criminal liability, which have not proved sufficiently effectively, and need to be supplemented. The Civil liability for environmental damage would determines environmentally harmful actions, and compensate the victims of environmental damage. Conceptually, the principle of legal liability may be viewed as an embodiment in legal doctrine of the “polluter pays” approach, which derive from the principle of economic efficiency. 

The following alternative approaches to civil liability may be apply: 

  • In a fault based liability regime a party is held liable if it breaches a preexisting legal duty, for example, an environmental standard. 
  • Strict liability imposes an obligation to compensate the victim for harm resulting from actions or failure to take action, which may not necessarily constitute a breach of any law or duty of care

·      Economic Efficiency

In various public actions for the environmental conservation, economic efficiency would be sought to be realized. This Principle requires that the services of the environmental resources be given economic value, and such value counted to be equally with the economic values of other goods and services, in analysis of alternative courses of action. Further implications of this Principle are as follows: 

1.     Polluter Pays

Impacts of acts of the production and consumption of one party may be visited on the third parties who do not have a direct economic nexus with the original act. Such impacts are termed “externalities”. If the costs (or benefits) of the externalities are not re-visited on the party responsible for the original act, the resulting level of the entire sequence of production or consumption, and externality, is inefficient.

 In such a situation, economic efficiency may be restored by making the perpetrator or guilty of the externality bear the cost  of the same. 

2.     Cost Minimization

Where the environmental benefits of a course of action cannot, for methodological or conceptual reasons, be imputed economic value , in any event the economic costs of realizing the benefits should be minimized.

·      The Precautionary Approach

Where there are credible threats of serious or irreversible damage to the environmental resources, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent the environmental degradation

  • Preventive Action

It is preferable to prevent environmental damage from occurring in the first , rather than attempting to restore degraded environmental resources after the fact. As “PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE”.

Drawbacks Of NEP, 2006

  • The policy has made more meaningful to the industrial sector, attempting to protect the economy instead of the environment.
  • Fails to integrate forest-dependent communities and forest in terms of their livelihood requirements.
  • Fails to make a clear commitment towards the making the Environmental Impact Assessment(EIA) Statements open
  • It fails to realize that noise pollution is harmful for the society as a whole.
  • The revised policy talks about capacity building for the implementation of environmental management principles but the marginalized groups are not an explicit target.


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