ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY AND THE FIVE- YEAR PLANS
In First Five- Year Plan (1951-56) high priority was given to public health, agriculture, industrialization, water supply, sanitation, housing etc., but environmental development was not allotted requisite place till the end of Third plan. It was in Fourth Five- Year Plan (1969-1974) in the chapter on ‘Long Term Perspective’ that the process of planning contained the issue of environment as an important aspect.
The importance of environmental planning recognized in the Fourth Plan was given practical shape by initiating a number of programmes during the Fifth Five- Year Plan (1974-79) to improve the quality of life and integration of environmental issues to be taken care of while examining economic and technical feasibility of any project.
Afterwards, one of the main objectives of the Sixth Five-Year Plan (1980-1985) was to bring about harmony between short and long term goals of development by promoting the protection and improvement of ecological and environmental assets, careful use, management and husbanding of renewable resources like soil, water, air, flora and fauna, and ensured to bring in requisite sustainability in economic development.
The Seventh Five- Year Plan going ahead maintained the strategy of Sixth Plan and adopted the basic approach of “Sustainable development in harmony with environment”. It was emphasized that it may be any development programme, it should inevitably and invariably must take environmental consideration fully into account. For conservation of resources, involvement of the total population of the country was to be vouchsafed. Thus it made a paradigm shift in environment management process, which encompassed environmental planning, protection, monitoring, evaluation, assessment, research, education, conservation and sustainable use of resources.
The Eighth Five-Year Plan (1992-97) put in a special chapter on ‘Environment and Forest’ and effective measures were evolved to protect and correct the environment by protecting natural resources, regenerating and restoring degraded eco-systems, decentralising control over resources, formulating a new national policy for environment and an appropriate utilisation and legal framework and enhancing the field of accountability. The most important landmark of the plan was to make the regulatory mechanism and effective tool and instrument of environmental protection.
Even after incorporation of Environment issues in Five Year Plans, the industrialisation, rapid urbanisation, modernisation, deforestation, over exploitation of water and increase in vehicular traffic played havoc with environment and it became essential to take stock of worsening conditions and develop a blue-print for preservation, abatement and control of environmental pollution.
With a view to protecting and improving the environment, different legislations have been made and different regulations, rules have been issued. The Government of India, through its Ministry of Environment and Forests is administering has enacted nation-wide comprehensive laws. One of the major environmental enactments came, just two years after the Stockholm Conference, in 1974. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act was passed for the purpose of prevention and control of water pollution and for maintaining and restoring the wholesomeness of water. The Water Act represented India's first attempt to deal with an environmental issue from a legal perspective. From this period onwards, the Central Government has been considered as highly environmentally active. In 1976, the Constitution of India was amended to insert a separate fundamental duties chapter. The 1980s witnessed the creation of many eco-specific organizations. In the year 1980, the Forest (Conservation) Act was passed for the conservation of forests and to check on further deforestation. The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1981 was enacted by...
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