Chapter 14: The paradox of environmental federalism in India
The awakening to environmental legislation in India came with the Bhopal tragedy, one of the most infamous industrial disasters in the world. India, with a quasi-federal approach it derives from the Constitution, has gone a long way towards shaping green federalism. The scheme of decentralization, introduced by the Seventy-Third and Seventy-Fourth Amendments to the Constitution, has furthered the involvement of local bodies and village administration in environmental issues. With an increase in global consensus towards environmental protection, the role of environmental legislation ought to be directed towards social welfare policy, community participation and aspiration. The assertion of the central government over the states in environmental issues is now an established fact as per the scheme of legislation and the judicial interpretations on them merely reaffirm the same. The distribution of legislative subjects under the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution, under the Union List, State List and Concurrent List, assigns powers of legislation to Union, state and both of them, respectively. The Constitution of India allows for enactment of laws on state subjects by the Union Parliament, on the request of states. In a combat between autonomy and uniformity of law, policy, enforcement and compliance, it is evident from Indian laws that it is the former that succumbs to the latter. The existing relationship between center and the state in the legislative framework is sought to be protracted as cooperative federalism.
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