ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Mapping the Narrative of Environmental Law

Development of Environmental Laws in India by Kanchi Kohli and Manju Menon, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2021; pp 367, $41.99.

Environmental law in India exhibits dimensions of rapid but haphazard development as a field of practice and knowledge. It has evolved within the context of the political economy of the environment versus development debate. Multiple institutional actors such as Parliament, the judiciary, and regulatory agencies (Lele and Sahu 2021) have a role in the policy formulation process with increasing complexity. The Review of Environment and Development issue in the Economic & Political Weekly (Vol 56, No 52, 25 December 2021) exploring contested problems ranging from water governance to climate change policy is an ideal example of varied and mired topics that academics and policy practitioners could and need to explore in the environmental regulation context. Hilson (2021), in an article, quips that “narrative has an important role to play in bringing environmental law alive and, potentially, in making it a more effective and inclusive force.” How do we breathe life into environmental law discourse in India? The answer lies in building and understanding the narrative of push and pull factors on environmental policy, law, and institutions.

How the environmental law applies in practice is still top-down and command-control based. For example, when legislation such as the Biodiversity Act, 2002 talks about the Peoples’ Biodiversity Register to be prepared at the village level, it largely remains an ignored component of biodiversity governance architecture. The law, in practice, is quite far from the black letter of the law. The State Biodiversity Boards are not empowered to function in a proper manner in the issues relating to access and benefit sharing (ABS), which has resulted in the dilution of the biodiversity law. The Forest Legislation Act is yet another example of the tussle witnessed where the indigenous communities’ issues are primarily unaddressed, leading to diffused legislation. The book by Kanchi Kohli and Manju Menon, Development of Environmental Laws in India, helps to carve out a narrative of the complex governance and regulatory issues in Indian environmental law.

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Updated On : 20th Sep, 2022
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