Public Participation in Monitoring and Enforcement of Environmental Regulations in India: Learning From Existing Models and Experiences

Public participation is a critical yet one of the most overlooked aspect of India’s environmental regulatory system. Over the years, the environmental regulations, which are meant to safeguard the environment and the relationships between ecologies and human communities, have been designed or amended to promote economic growth via unbridled industrialization or infrastructural developments. Naturally, in this aggressively paced growth-oriented agenda, progressive, democratic provisions such as public participation or consultation process do not find adequate space, and are viewed as a burden on our economic development. This view has had immense social and environmental costs. Illustrating the value of people’s participation in improving the effectiveness of environmental regulation, this note outlines the current regulatory practices and highlights the gaps that could be addressed through community intervention. It extensively draws from existing models and experiences of community-based systems for monitoring and enforcement functions of government and regulators and builds on the same to identify a clear role for affected communities in environmental monitoring.