Q Why is it in News ?
A The Supreme Court has asked the Government if it will create an Indian Environmental Service (IES) as recommended by a committee headed by former Cabinet secretary T.S.R Subramanian in 2014.
Q Why is the IES debate back in the news?
- The Supreme Court was responding to a petition whose counsel pointed out that the matters of environment required special expertise.
- Currently, matters of environmental regulation rest on scientists of the Ministry of Environment and Forests as well as bureaucrats from the Indian Administrative Services (IAS).
- The apex court expressed reluctance at getting into administrative matters of the Government but nevertheless asked the Centre if it expects to go about constituting such a mechanism.
Q What are All Indi Services ?
- The All India Services (AIS) comprises three civil services: the Indian Administrative Service, the Indian Police Service and the Indian Forest Service.
- A unique feature of the AIS is that the members of these services are recruited by the centre (Union government in federal polity), but their services are placed under various State cadres.
- They have the liability to serve both under the State and under the centre.
- Officers of these three services comply to the All India Services Rules relating to pay, conduct, leave, various allowances etc.
- The All India Services Act, 1951, provides for the creation of two more All India Services, namely, the Indian Engineering Service and the Indian Medical Service.
Q What is TSR Subramanian Committee Report on Environment ?
- The Subramanian committee was set up in August 2014 to review the country’s green laws and the procedures followed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC).
- It suggested several amendments to align with the Government’s economic development agenda.
- The report had suggested amendments to almost all green laws, including those relating to the environment, forest, wildlife and coastal zone clearances.
- The committee suggested that another committee, with more expertise and time, be constituted to review the environmental laws.
Q What are its Key recommendations ?
A (a) Establishment of Environment Management Authorities
- The report proposed an ‘Environmental Laws (Management) Act’ (ELMA), that envisioned full-time expert bodies to be constituted at the Central and State levels respectively:
- National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA)
- State Environmental Management Authority (SEMA)
(b) Project clearances
- These authorities evaluate project clearance (using technology and expertise), in a time bound manner, providing for single-window clearance.
- It suggested a “fast track” procedure for “linear” projects (roads, railways and transmission lines), power and mining projects and for “projects of national importance.”
- It also suggested an appellate mechanism against the decisions of NEMA/SEMA or MoEF&CC, in respect of project clearance, prescribing a three-month deadline to dispose appeals.
(c) Expanding Environment Protection Act
- The Air Act and the Water Act is to be subsumed within the EP Act.
- The existing Central Pollution Control Board and the State PCBs, which monitor and regulate the conditions imposed on the industries to safeguard environment be integrated into NEMA and SEMA.
(d) Evaluating Environmental Reconstruction Cost (ERC)
- The report also recommends that an “ERC” should be assessed for each project on the basis of the damage caused by it to the environment and this should be added into the cost of the project.
- This cost has to be recovered as a cess or duty from the project proponent during the life of the project.
(e) Research and Development
- It proposed the establishment of a National Environment Research institute “on the lines of the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education”.
- It would bring in the application of high-end technology in environment governance.
(f) Establishment of Indian Environment Service (IES)
- Finally, an Indian Environment Service should be established to recruit qualified and skilled human resource in the environment sector.
Q How were the recommendations received?
- The Centre never formally accepted this report and neither constituted a new committee as recommended by the Parliamentary Standing Committee.
- The Parliamentary rejected the report on the grounds that it ended up diluting key aspects of environmental legislation designed to protect the environment.
- However, many of these recommendations are implicitly making their way into the process of environmental regulation.