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Economic and Political Weekly| Economic and Political Weekly
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Economic and Political Weekly| Economic and Political Weekly


In the last decade, environmental governance has become a very popular concept. Since 1984’s Bhopal Gas Tragedy, institutions, states, policymakers and researchers have used the term “environmental governance” to describe India’s many areas of development. The term environmental governance, which we use to describe the way we humans exercise our authority over natural resource and natural systems, is broadeningly defined. It concerns questions about how decisions are made, who makes them, how they are held responsible, and how they are monitored. It covers all sectors, including biodiversity conservation and sustainable and equitable use forest, land, or water. It also includes pollution and hazardous waste regulation. It also includes decision-making regarding massive irreversible transformations to ecosystems for development purposes. And now, it is about climate change. It also includes other actors. While regulation is primarily concerned with the actions of state agencies and entities, governance encompasses all actors, including regulatory agencies, regulated entities as well as the legislature, judiciary, media, public, and media. In recent years, the role of other actors, particularly the judiciary has been very visible in the Indian context.

India, responding to increasing awareness about environmental issues worldwide, included several provisions in its 1976 Constitution that directly protect the environment. It has also created a wide variety of regulatory instruments to preserve and protect its natural resource and has signed several international agreements to support sustainable development programmes. At the moment, there are more than 200 state and central statutes directly or indirectly related to environmental protection (Divan und Rosencraz 2001). Even within the context of environmental pollution and its regulation1 which is the focus of this review issue, the number of statutes, agencies, and the jurisprudence that have been generated is enormous. There is a growing literature about the nature and effectiveness of Indian environmental regulatory authorities, as well as the implications of their functioning for India’s environment and human rights. While most of the early literature was focused on laws and their interpretations, researchers are now starting to study the functioning of the bureaucracy and the judiciary as well as the role and impact of scientific and local knowledge and values and worldviews on the other.

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