Environment Policy draft gathering dust in official files during past nearly one year

Even fresh State of Environ Report not prepared since 2015

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, June 28: In a testimony of Government’s absolute non-seriousness towards environment degradation, Environment Policy draft is gathering dust in the official files during the past nearly one year due to lack of coordination between the concerned departments. Moreover, fresh State of Environment Report has not been prepared since 2015 in blatant violation of the guidelines of Union Ministry of Environment and Forest.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that after sleeping over the necessity of having comprehensive Environment Policy for several years the Government got a draft prepared through an agency in 2010 and process for finalization of draft was set into motion in 2011 when the Government constituted a Technical Committee vide Order No.161-FSt dated March 31, 2011.
The Technical Committee headed by Chairman of the State Pollution Control Board and comprising of Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Director Soil Conservation Department, Director Environment and Remote Sensing, Chief Conservator of Forests and Ecotourism, Joint Director State Forest Research Institute and Regional Director, Environment, Ecology and Remote Sensing reviewed the draft in its meeting held on July 30, 2012.
After analyzing the draft the Technical Committee proposed to constitute a sub-committee headed by Member Secretary, State Pollution Control Board and the convener of the Technical Committee sent the draft to all the members of the sub-committee for comments in 2012-2013. However, before the sub-committee could complete the assigned task entire record got damaged due to flooding of Civil Secretariat at Srinagar in September 2014.
This led to initiation of fresh exercise by the Department of Environment and Remote Sensing and finally the new draft was prepared in consultation with the experts and after analyzing the National Environment Policy last year. Thereafter, the draft was submitted to the Forest Department for consultations with stakeholders and inviting suggestions and objections.
However, during the past nearly one year the draft of the Environment Policy is gathering dust in the official files in Civil Secretariat due to lack of coordination between the concerned departments. “While Forest Department failed to conduct consultations with all stakeholders, the departments, which were approached for comments and suggestions on the draft, showed no seriousness in the matter”, sources said, adding “due to this, the exercise to have comprehensive Environment Policy which was initiated in 2010 failed to reached the logical conclusion till date”.
When contacted, a senior officer of the Forest Department said, “no progress could be made on finalization of draft due to dilly-dallying approach of the other concerned departments in furnishing comments”. “Hopefully, during the Governor’s rule these departments will show some sort of seriousness and pave the way for finalization of much-needed policy”, he added.
“All this indicates that concern for environment degradation, which has already been witnessed at large scale in all the three regions of Jammu and Kashmir, has remained confined to the official statements of the Government”, sources rued.
Moreover, the State has yet not paid any attention towards preparation of fresh State of Environment Report (SoER), which otherwise was due to be released in 2015 as per the guidelines of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest.
The State of Environment Report serves as a basic tool in decision making by the planners, Non-Governmental Organizations and stakeholder departments in the environmental management of the State. Since the environment is associated with the social development which includes priority issues like land degradation, bio-diversity, air and water pollution and management aspect of natural resources, the report helps a lot in reorientation of planning on eco-friendly lines.
The first ever State of Environment Report was prepared by the Department of Environment and Remote Sensing in the year 2013 for a period of two years and it was to be prepared afresh in the year 2015.
“As per the guidelines of Union Ministry of Environment and Forest tenders were floated for outsourcing of preparation of report in the year 2016 but the consultant who was shortlisted for the task backtracked at the last moment as such created roadblock in the formulation of report”, sources said, adding “since then the issue has not received the due attention of all the concerned authorities”.


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