Part of the difficulty is that ordinary people can rarely take part in government decision-making processes for siting industrial projects. Neither can they negotiate on equal terms with firms proposing such plans. Increasingly in India projects are being located on the coasts where there are transport advantages and land and water is more readily available. Fishing and coastal communities are in contest with large multinationals for the very spaces where they have their homes and make their living.
The problem is compounded by poor enforcement of environmental law. India has a very poor record of compliance to environmental regulations and violations have real and profound effects on the lives of people. Invariably, local communities are absent from the processes that oversee environmental assessments and the management of ecological impacts.
Namati, in partnership with the Centre for Policy Research, seeks innovative ways to develop and manage environmental regulation so that they achieve better environmental compliance. We experiment with interventions at the policy level and with institutions and communities. Namati seeks to help fishing communities, who are often locked out of the processes of environmental regulation, have a greater say in influencing the conditions that affect their lives.
We are pursuing several approaches that have potential for large-scale application.
We develop and disseminate materials that clarify regulatory procedures and laws governing coastal spaces. Knowledge of these complex legal steps is essential if communities are to take full advantage of their environmental rights. We are working with traditional fishing communities to develop materials in multiple media—print, radio, film, mobile phone—that render laws and procedures easier to understand and use.
Namati is equipping community paralegals to monitor compliance with the conditions to which firms commit when they receive environmental approvals. Communities are often unaware of the terms of industrial clearances and government systematically fails to enforce them. We have begun this work with fishing and farming communities along the southern coast of Kutch District, Gujarat, where there has been rapid industrialization in the last decade.
Namati is also initiating the training of paralegals on the coast of North Karnataka in southern India to improve essential services to fishing families. Our paralegals also engage coastal communities and local government in district level planning and proactive conservation measures to protect critical estuarine and marine ecosystems.
We are conducting a multi-state study of the institutions charged with managing India’s coastal eco-systems, including the Coastal Zone Management Authorities. From the results of this research we will make recommendations to central and state governments to strengthening the institutional framework for coastal conservation.
Namati is also developing a methodology for cumulative impact assessments of industrialized regions using participatory community mapping tools. India’s current environmental regulations focus on project-level clearances. The total impact of a hundred decisions about individual projects—each perhaps defensible in isolation—may be disastrous. We are developing a methodology for cumulative impact assessments that takes seriously the development experience of communities and citizens.
“A Victory of the Common Man”: Farming Community in India Takes on Polluting Company
For 2 years the village of Bogribeil was cloaked in a thick, damaging cloud of dust from a stone crushing operation. With the assistance of paralegals, they took action.READ MORE
Paralegals share lessons learned on holding community legal trainings
Environmental justice paralegals share valuable lessons they've learned in this Q&A.READ MORE
Holding a Municipality Accountable
After 25 years of having industrial and municipal waste dumped by their homes, a community took action.READ MORE
Saving Sangam from Mining
With legal evidence and clearly articulated demands, a group of people, supported by a paralegal, saves the Triveni Sangam from sand mining.READ MORE
More Money for More Dust
Harapriya Nayak and Santosh Dora share their experience of working with a small village in Odisha, who were suffering because of heavy mining happening in their area and how they brought about a change.READ MORE
India's Barefoot Lawyers
In this New York Times piece, Pulitzer Prize winning writer Tina Rosenberg captures showcases the work of environmental justice paralegals in India.READ MORE
How a Coastal Violation is Leading to a Small Revolution in Karnataka
Enviro-Legal Coordinator, Vinod Patgar, shares the story of how a coastal community is standing up for its rights.READ MORE
Sand Mining Sinkholes in Kagal
When unauthorized sand mining began to but homes in danger, villagers and an enviro-legal coordinator took action.READ MORE
Biting the Dust
How community action stopped a polluting refineryREAD MORE
Manisha lives in Vapi, a city that holds the dubious distinction of being one of the largest industrial areas in Asia and has been designated as perhaps the most polluted place on the planet.READ MORE
Among the Acronyms and Artisans
“Sister, the natural shape of this piece of land, the usual direction in which the wind blows here and the magnitude with which the waves hit the coast, everything together makes up for an ideal boat-mooring spot!”READ MORE
Along our Western Shores
A beautiful visual story of the coastal communities of Vapi and Aghanashini, India by photographer Aubrey Wade.READ MORE
Leveraging the Law Is the New Way to Help the World's Poor
By working with community paralegals, clam collectors in western India are learning how to make the law work for them.READ MORE
Crowdsourcing Site for Environmental Compliance in India
Share evidence of environmental violations to build a database that will
enable tracking the performance of environmental regulations in India.
Political leadership failed India’s environment in 2017
2017 has come to a close. For those working on environmental issues and seeking justice for the people who bear the costs of pernicious development, this year ends on a somber realization...
26 December 2017
Regulatory efforts may push groundwater beyond reach
Among the many areas where we have systematically worsened our chances of a decent life, one is the management of groundwater- a resource hidden from our sight yet one that sustains over half the water needs of India’s population. This makes regulating groundwater extraction a big challenge.
12 December 2017
Compensatory afforestation schemes are a charade
Development projects have been a cause of numerous conflicts in India as land, on which these projects are situated, is key for the survival of rural and urban communities who are otherwise economically and socially marginalised. This is most true in the case of forest areas, which support over 300 million people.
24 November 2017
Is ease of doing business undermining green norms?
The central government and media celebrated the recent news about India’s improvement in the World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business” annual ranking from 130 to 100. But what does this rating really mean and what is the cheering government not telling us?
14 November 2017
Upholding World Bank’s Immunity in Case Against Gujarat Fishermen Will Have Long-Term Ramifications
If the US Supreme Court upholds the decision, it would allow, even encourage the World Bank’s lending arm to continue to act irresponsibly.
The Wire, 10 November 2017Read the Article
The saga of Indian mining: A long lineage of illegality
India has seen more than a handful of mining-related scams unravel in the last decade...
27 October 2017
Bull trawling conflicts in the Uttara Kannada coast: an opportunity for a bottom-up review of the Karnataka Marine Fisheries Law
20 October 2017
Foul air: Thermal power more to blame than crackers
The Supreme Court’s recent ban on the sale of firecrackers in Delhi as an emergency measure to control air pollution has re-ignited the debate on how to legally regulate air quality in the city. Court-ordered bans are no doubt painful, but they come about because the state vacates the regulatory space or fails to respond to the changing priorities and sentiments of citizens. Bans are also not effective as they are usually not supported by planning or any institutional implementation mechanisms. So the critics of this cracker ban may be partially right, but for the wrong reasons.
13 October 2017
In State-Level Changes to Land Laws, a Return to Land Grabbing in Development’s Name
The new state laws, which are in line with the BJP’s land ordinance, undo consent procedures and legitimise land acquisition with terms favourable to investors.
28 September 2017
The terrible track record of land governance in India
Over 40 million people have been coerced out of their homes as a necessary “sacrifice” for the greater common good.
25 September 2017
State regulation is legitimising unfeasible water mining
Conflicts over surface water in rivers and lakes are now frequent due to this ‘scarcity’ experienced by common people. However, researchers have pointed out that the scarcity of water is manufactured by corruption and bad decision-making that distributes water away from human living needs and natural processes, and towards industrialisation, mining, and urbanisation.
1 September 2017
India’s coastal law is being altered in public interest – by bypassing the public
The latest amendment, which allows mining of atomic minerals in coastal areas, was issued without prior public notice. This is the eighth time in the last three years that the ministry has dispensed with the requirement.
26 October 2017
Passing on regulatory burdens to people is recipe for disaster
India’s environmental regulatory failure is now official. Activists and environmental groups had pointed to this much earlier but now all governmental actions and words allude to it. After a long phase of regulatory trade-offs, we are now into “do what you can while you can” or, more technically put, self-regulation.
17 August 2017
Check out the full list of opinion articles published by the Centre for Policy Research (CPR) - Namati Environmental Justice Program.Read More
The Centre for Policy Research
The Centre for Policy Research has been one of India’s leading public policy think tanks since 1973. The Centre is a nonprofit, independent institution dedicated to conducting research contributing to more robust public discourse about the structures and processes that shape life in India.VISIT CPR'S WEBSITE
Be part of the movement for legal empowerment.
Meet practitioners from around the world, access practical resources, and join learning exchanges.Sign Up