It is a relief that, better late than never, Union Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh has realized the need for drastic changes in environment laws of the country. He assured that changes will be made but no time limit was given precisely. This task should become a priority now as environment rules have become a riddle, a conundrum. The minister felt that there are too many laws and their regulators as far as environment issues come up but he also needs to realize that this situation is leading to wastage of time and resources, apart from becoming an obstacle in the path of development. The fact remains that environmental laws are flouted with impunity and their interpretations vary with any change in Government. For example, it is not a secret that the projects which were granted leniently in the first term of the UPA are now being dealt in a tough fashion. While it is vice-versa in some cases, in yet others there is a mixture of treatment patterns. What needs to be kept in mind is that when preserving nature is important, it cannot be done at the cost of nation’s development. Present scenario actually puts development and environment in conflict with each other. This scenario exists due to an imbalance between economic growth and environment and there can be no meaningful development without a healthy nature.

Balance between development and environment can be achieved only when we have uncomplicated laws. More so, adequate compensation needs to be made if any environmental hazard is caused in lieu of implementing various developmental schemes. As of now, even if a few trees are cut while executing a scheme, much hue and cry is created. Why isn’t there be such a provision where thousand trees may be planted in place of those five hundred uprooted to make way, say, a national highway? Environment preservation should not be limited to hills, rivers, forests etc but should also be extended to urban regions. We have many regulators as far as controlling pollution goes but because the law is only on paper and eventually environment is degrading faster. It is not enough to show conditional green signal to any project as nobody cares about those conditions once work begins on the ground. For example, even rehabilitation of the affected population in many projects are in lurch. The minister should also remember that if development is not as per the needs of the people, it would not be possible to maintain law and order as far as environment goes.