In a petition filed by Advocate Samar Vijay Singh, he appealed and suggested, The citizens are facing many environmental issues such as air pollution, water pollution, noneradication of solid waste & garbage, and pollution of the natural environment. One of the major causes of environmental degradation is the flaw of the existing system that lies in the enforcement capabilities of environmental institutions at various levels. There is no effective coordination amongst various Ministries/ Institutions regarding the integration of environmental concerns. There is a lack of trained personnel involved in the administration, policy formulation, and supervising the implementation of policies of the State Government and Central Government. India has developed a comprehensive framework of legislation and regulations relating to the protection and conservation of the environment. However, due to problems of implementation and enforcement, many of the set goals have not come to fruition. Given the turmoil all over the country concerning environmental issues, the creation of the All India Service “The Indian Environment Service” is the need of the hour.
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Why do we require IES?
Air environment and its modeling/simulation, Noise environment, Water environment, Soil environment, Landuse, Ecology and Biodiversity, Socioeconomics, Hydrogeology, Risk & Hazard, Geology, Solid & Hazardous waste are all examples of multidisciplinary fields in which knowledge is required. For successful implementation and monitoring of environmental rules in the country, IES personnel would be trained in all of the following functional areas and related disciplines.
What distinguishes IES from CPCB and other departments?
Officers from the IES will have a broader knowledge base and competence than those from the CPCB, Forestry, and other agencies. For example, a Forest Department official has a specialized understanding of Ecology and Biodiversity, but their portfolio does not include other environmental disciplines. IES will be part of a larger framework that includes diverse skills.
What will IES do?
In terms of integrating environmental issues, there is no efficient coordination across various Ministries/Institutions. There is a scarcity of skilled professionals working in state and federal government administration, policy formation, and oversight of policy execution. India has established a comprehensive system of environmental protection and conservation legislation and regulations. However, many of the planned targets have yet to be realized owing to implementation and enforcement issues.
As per the report of a High-Level Committee was constituted by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) under the chairmanship of Mr. TSR Subramanian: “While India has a strong environmental policy and legislative framework, much of the problem relates to weak implementation of the various acts and the rules thereunder. Conservation advocates, project proponents, and judiciary – none is satisfied with current environmental governance and the policy tools currently deployed in the management of the sector.”
The IES will assist in the proper governance of the environment
The Indian Skill Development Service, a new Group “A” service cadre, was recently formed by the government to offer new momentum to the government’s skilling effort, greatly boosting the efficiency and effectiveness of the numerous initiatives. Similarly, the All-India Tribunal Service was established to ensure that the tribunal system runs smoothly. Similarly, given the continually deteriorating environment that impacts the everyday lives of our country’s residents, a dedicated service such as IES is required.
The present system and challenges to adopting a new system
The Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change already functions through five Regional Divisional Offices and various Subordinate Offices, Institutes, Tribunals, Boards, etc. A system that has built itself from the central level to the district or even block levels through multiple legislations, initiatives, and efforts. The Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change already has the Indian Forest Service under its command which is an All India Service and is instrumental in not only the forest areas but also in areas where there are no forests. Although Environmental Conservation is something that is very subtle and should be talked about, it is highly unlikely that a Ministry which has an annual budgetary allocation on the downside of 3000 Cr Rupees will be able to handle two All India Services side by side.
Even if there will be 2 times increment in the Ministry’s Budgetary Allocation it seems highly unlikely that the prevalent system needs a massive overhaul such that of an entirely new All India Service being included. Apart from its unlikeliness and redundancy, the system also warrants that initiation of such a hefty scale won’t come to pass without a near catastrophe inside the current system, due to jurisdictional disputes among other things. Another issue with this new regime will be the changes the state machinery will have to go through. There are various state-level embodiments of Tribunals, Boards and Authorities which will also have to go through some changes if not the major ones.
Nonetheless, it is still not in the best interests of the country to outrightly go ahead and dismiss the idea of Indian Environmental services only because of the limitations which exist due to enforcement and implementation. Because sheer negation, in this regard, would do more harm than good.
Why IES (apart from reasons in the petition)?
- For now, several ministries, institutions and departments are involved in policy making and execution work. This has resulted in lack of accountability, which inturn is the primary reason for non-execution and delay in implementing environmental laws.
All services under one umbrella will enable a better system of accountability within govt. organization.
- IES will have better coordination within and across the institutions/ dept thereby clearing any backlog created due to mis- communication or non- communication. (More like a nodal agency)
- IES will also address the pressing issue of overlapping jurisdictions across ministries/ Boards.
- Through this “single window” Services- access to information needed for drafting public policies will become more efficient. It’ll also facilitate public participation.
- Through an expert body of officials, sustainable development activities will be expedited, keeping in mind the vision of International Conventions on climate change.
What lies Ahead
Due to the incessant hue and cry all over the country concerning environmental issues, the creation of the All IndiaEnvironment Service is an immediate need of the hour. The constant degradation of our ecosystem necessitates special attention from both the Civil Service and the government.
However, based on the current administrative structure, it can be inferred that government employees may not be able to devote special time to environmental causes. Hence, as stated in the petition, it is now an absolute and indispensable necessity to establish an independent All India Service Indian Environment Service so that relief and respite are provided to the general public.