Role of Indian Regulatory Authorities in Integrating Environmental Justice into Industrial Siting Decisions
Volume 10 Issue 2 (2017)
In the wake of the horrors wrought during the Bhopal gas tragedy, the issue of environmental justice was catapulted to the forefront of public discourse in India. Numerous studies and surveys conducted thereafter shed light on the unequal distribution of environmental benefits and harms between middle-to-high income communities and the low-income communities. While certain regulatory initiatives have been undertaken thereafter to mitigate these harms, the concerns of the marginalised communities are yet to be fully integrated into every environmental decision that affects them. This is specifically true in the context of industrial siting, where the concerns of the poor are given superficial consideration. In this paper, I attempt to assess the Indian legal framework on industrial siting through the lens of environmental justice, and to justify the need for incorporating principles of environmental justice within the Indian legal and regulatory framework. I seek to examine the extent to which the current framework on industrial siting decisions incorporates these principles, and to explore the ways in which environmental justice concerns have been incorporated into the domestic law of the USA, and how they are relevant for India. This analysis enables in outlining the recommendations on the measures that Indian regulatory authorities should take, so as to accord greater emphasis on environmental justice under laws relating to industrial siting. The proposed measures could be implemented by regulatory authorities by virtue of their duties under Articles 21, 19(1)(a), 14 and 15(4) of the Constitution.