For safeguarding the environment the Ministry continued with its activities aimed at creating a comprehensive legal and institutional infrastructure. These include framing of rules, notification of standards, recognition of environmental laboratories, delegation of powers, identification of agencies for management of hazardous chemicals etc. The existing laws, rules etc. are also amended from time to time to make them more effective.
The National Environment Policy
The Government has enunciated its policy on Environment & Forests in the form of Policy Statements on Abatement of Pollution and the National Conservation Strategy and Statement of conservation and development. In addition, there are laws for the protection fo the environment. The Ministry of Environment and Forests is currently preparing a comprehensive National Policy on the Environment. In the first instance a White Paper is proposed to be published, followed by the National Environment Policy.
The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977
The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977 was enacted to provide for the levy and collection of Cess on water consumed by specified industries and local authorities to augment the resources of the Central and State Pollution Control Boards. The existing rates of Water Cess were revised in 1991 because with the rapid expansion of industries and towns, the responsibility and workload of the Pollution Control Boards have increased considerably and the funds available with these Boards had not kept pace either with increase in costs or with overall commitment involving heavy financial liabilities. The Water Cess Act is being amended again so as to enhance the water cess rates thereby augmenting the resources of Pollution Control Boards.
Labelling of Environmental Friendly Products
The Government have instituted a scheme for Labelling of Environment Friendly Products, with a view to provide accreditation and labeling for household and other consumer products which meet certain environmental criteria along with quality requirements of the Indian Standards Institutes for that product. The label shall be known as the ECOMARK. Any product, which is made, used or disposed of in a way that significantly reduces the harm it would otherwise cause the environment, could be considered as an Environment Friendly Product. Till date this Ministry has issued 18 notifications on different products criteria. This is a social scheme to help consumers to contribute their mite in the protection of the environment. At the instance of the Minstry of Environment and Forests Waterfalls Institute of Technology Transfer, New Delhi had organised "Appreciation Programme on EcoMark" and more programmes have been planned. Final criteria for leather products and fire extinguishers are being notified.
Green Rating Project
A project on green rating of the industry is being executed by the Centre for Science ad Environment. The project has been sponsored by the UNDP. Eco-Rating serves as a means to recognize good environmental performance, as well as improvements in performance of the unit. By simplifying and condensing environmental risk into a single indicator, Eco-Rating helps stakeholders understand environmental risk issues better. It enables them to incorporate environmental risk criteria in their decision-making processes. The project would help in capacity development by conducting training workshops, seminars, conference, etc. on issues pertaining to the industry and environment interface. These programmes would target the Media, NGOs, financial institutions, managerial staff, students, policy makers and regulators.
Environmental Law component of the World Bank Aided Project on Capacity Building
Pursuant to the Development Credit Agreement (DCA) between India and the International Development Association, the Government of India has decided to undertake the Environmental Management Capacity Building Project for strengthening the environment management capacity of the country, with assistance from the International Development Association.
The project consists of Strengthening the Implementation of Environmental Law s in India. The Ministry of Environment and Forests of the Government of India is the implementing agency for the Environmental Law Component. The Environment law component attempts to strengthen the following :
A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between the Ministry of Environment & Forests and the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore for implementing the Environmental Law Component under World Bank Capacity Building Project.