Policy Engagements and Blogs

Can Legal Compliance Address Environmental Injustice?

Navroz K Dubash

March 9, 2018

What happens after an environmental law is made or an environmental approval is granted to a project? Are all the safeguards complied with? Do the authorities in charge enforce the environmental regulations and laws proactively? What are the impacts that arise due to non-compliance to environmental regulations? How can affected communities pursue remedies?

Since 2012, the CPR-Namati EJ program has been carrying out field based research with local partners to understand whether compliance with laws and environmental conditions can redress impacts such as air and water pollution, encroachment of land and life risks. People living around industrial, mining or infrastructure facilities face a range of impacts from operational projects. More often than not, these impacts arise out of non-adherence to legal safeguards or mandatory procedures.

The latest ouputs of CPR-Namati EJ Program’s work in this area are two new groundtruthing studies. The first is related to a mining project in Sundargarh, Odisha, and the second focuses on the implementation of Solid Waste Management laws across all landfill sites in Uttar Kannada district of Karnataka.

Groundtruthing is a method through which facts stated in official documents are compared with the ground realities of a place. Through the legal empowerment approach of groundtruthing, affected people are trained to gather evidence and pursue remedies from administrative authorities who are responsible for monitoring of environmental regulation.

In Sundargarh, people affected by a mining project studied the impacts that they are facing. They found out that several conditions imposed on the project were being violated that was impacting their lives and livelihoods negatively. This study was carried out in collaboration with Centre for Integrated Rural & Tribal Development and Hemgiri Adivasi Ekta Manch.

In Uttar Kannada, the study was to assess compliance to requirements of the law governing the management of solid waste in India. This was carried out through an assessment of whether the landfill sites in the district were following the required safeguards and procedures or not. The study found that the landfill sites were violating several conditions and these were impacting the lives of the people living near these sites negatively as well.

Access both full reports below:

Closing the Enforcement Gap: Groundtruthing Environmental Violations in Sundargarh, Odisha.
Around the Landfill Sites: A groundtruthing of solid waste management law across landfill sites in coastal areas of Uttara Kannada district, Karnataka.
Access previous groundtruthing reports below:

Closing the Enforcement Gap: Findings of a Community led Groundtruthing Environmental Violations in Mundra, Kutch.
Closing the Enforcement Gap: Groundtruthing Environmental Violations in Sarguja, Chhattisgarh
More on groundtruthing can be read in the methodolgy note, which is available in Kannada, Gujarati, Hindi and Odiya. Also available is a video introduction and a webinar on groundtruthing.