Friday, May 6, 2011

New Indian Wetland Protection Rules May Be Unwieldy And Unworkable

India has a voluble and energetic Minister for Environment and Forest in Mr. Jairam Ramesh who speaks the language of people participation and transparency in matters of protecting India's environment. 

Yet we keep coming up with badly thought out rules. Ashish Kothari of Kalpavriksha an environmental research and action group exposes the shortcomings of the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules notified in 2010.

Missing: The citizen:

.....The above is not an argument against the need for a degree of regulation by state and central governments. Nor against the idea of a central authority. But arbitrariness and abuse of power by such agencies can only be checked by deep democracy, that is, a fully empowered role for local citizens. The Rules are totally silent on this -- it’s as if there is no history of human use and management of wetlands, no local knowledge and practice that may be relevant to their conservation, and no role for elected or self-initiated people’s institutions. The Rules are a mockery of everything the government professes regarding panchayati raj and decentralisation. Fishing, farming, pastoral communities and other villagers and city-dwellers living adjacent to wetlands have no role at all in the identification, management, and regulation of wetlands. 

See here..

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