Court-Appointed Monitoring Committees: The Case of the Dahanu Taluka Environment Protection Authority

 

Geetanjoy Sahu
Assistant Professor at the School of Habitat Studies,
Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS),
Mumbai
geetanjoy@tiss.edu

Armin Rosencranz
Visiting Professor,
Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
Bologna, Italy
armin@stanford.edu

 
 

The premise of this paper is that, despite the existence of a well-established regulatory framework to enforce environmental laws and policies in each state of India, there has been a variation in the implementation of environmental judgments. This paper argues that an independent and proactive Court-appointed monitoring committee, namely the Dahanu Taluka Environmental Protection Authority (DTEPA), has not only ensured the effective implementation of environmental laws but has also exposed the anti-environment bias of both the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and the State Government of Maharashtra. Further, the DTEPA has created a space for civil society groups and other stakeholders to be part of the monitoring committee to help implement Court directions. The paper also discusses how the DTEPA's inclusive approach has empowered the local people to participate in decision-making that affects their environment. It is argued that judicial intervention in the implementation of its decisions has become crucial to enforce its directions, and that this intervention is undertaken not to take away the power and functions of implementing agency, but rather to translate its directions into action at the grassroots level. Finally, the paper offers recommendations to monitoring committees in other environmental cases that are faced with political pressure or industrial lobbying.

 

Monitoring committee, environmental movements, leadership, PIL and Justice.

 

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