Land Conversion, Social Impacts, and Legal Remedies in India: What’s Working?

Poor enforcement or non-compliance with environmental regulations by industrial activities, infrastructural development, and mining projects has profound implications.The affected communities grapple on a daily basis with environmental impacts which exposes them to toxic contamination, adversely affect their livelihoods and impose restrictions on their access to common resources and mobility. These problems severely affect their ability to live a life of dignity and safety. Communities usually strive to overturn these issues with whatever available resources and avenues, but the gap in public knowledge of relevant legal and project information hinders the ability of affected communities to uphold their rights and attain meaningful remedies or relief from these adverse situations. In this background, Namati and the Centre for Policy Research (CPR) co-designed an applied research program to understand the gaps in conditional compliance, institutional monitoring and enforcement of environmental regulations to address the impacts faced by communities living around industrial and infrastructure projects. This report is an attempt to outline the Environmental Justice program and its outcomes both at the institutional and community level. This report specifically outlines the program’s learnings in effective community legal empowerment and securing remedies for environmental and socials harms from activities involving high impact land-use change. The program learnings are also organized in a series of handouts or learning materials that can be used by those working on environmental justice through legal empowerment and legal aid programs.