14-40-4/1 Gokhale Road
Shri Prakash Javadekar
Minister for Environment & Forests (MOEF)
Govt of India
Dear Shri Javadekar,
I forward here a copy of an important statement made by Dr. Gopal Kishna of Toxic Watch on the reconstitution of CPCB, a premier regulatory authority entrusted with the responsibility of enforcing the laws relating to air and water pollution. CPCB is expected to be a professional, functionally independent body with expertise drawn from outside.
The way CPCB is reconstituted does not evoke public confidence nor is it in conformity with the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the subject. I therefore fully endorse the concerns and apprehensions expressed by Dr. Gopal Krishna and appeal to you to review CPCB's constitution with a view to make it a truly independent regulatory body capable of discharging its statutory functions in a credible manner.
Your government has been eloquent on using the term "good governance" as its primary objective. "Good governance" is not a heaven-born concept that should remain mysterious and unintelligible to the public. In my view, if you really translate this term into something tangible and meaningful, it should be so effective that the public can experience it in real terms.
One essential element of "good governance" is to ensure that all regulatory authorities are de-politicised, made highly professional and functionally autonomous. For this, the process of selection of the CPCB members should be through a group of eminent persons, headed preferably by a senior member of the judiciary. The tenure of members should be fixed and their removal should not be arbitrary.
I am sure that when your PM, Shri Narendra Modi had repeatedly talked of "Good Governance", what he really meant was exactly this. MOEF should have taken a cue from Shri Modi's pronouncements and set their own house in order.
I hope your Ministry will consider this appeal with the seriousness it deserves and act promptly.
Almost all cities and towns in india are so badly polluted today that the indirect adverse impact in terms of the health effects runs into lakhs of crores of rupees. Delhi has become more polluted than Beijing and Shanghai. This is not a good reflection on the efficacy and effectiveness of MOEF as a Ministry at the helm of affairs. Your Ministry has the Constitutional obligation, under Article 48A, to safeguard the environment. You will not be able to fulfil this obligations without a network of regulatory bodies that can enforce the laws pertaining to the environment.
The people of this country are awaiting the fulfilment of the assurances given by Shri Narendra Modi prior to 2014 elections. "Good governance" in all its dimensions is one of those assurances. I hope you will realise the importance of this and review the structure, the membership and the autonomy of CPCB and the other regulatory bodies. What you do at the Centre will set an example to the States.
E A S Sarma
Former Secretary to GOI