India promulgated a series of environmental legislations between 1980 and 2005 to ensure that environmental and social impacts of land use change, infrastructure development, and industrialisation are kept in check and timely mitigation is undertaken. But what happens to the projects once they are granted approvals? Do they comply with all the conditions imposed on them for mitigating or minimising environmental and social impacts? Who oversees these processes and what is the extent to which compliance is achieved?
This report is the outcome of a research project undertaken to understand the efficacy of conditional compliance, institutional monitoring, and enforcement of environmental regulations to address the impacts faced by communities living around industrial and infrastructure projects. The project identified the institutions responsible for monitoring and compliance under various environmental laws, their procedures and practices by which these roles are realised. While it has been known that government agencies and regulatory bodies hold the formal duties of monitoring, the project also focused on how affected communities engage these institutions for greater compliance and remedies in case of environmental and social impacts of various kinds, such as encroachment or damage to common or private property, loss of livelihoods and loss of access to public spaces.
By analysing the efforts made by affected parties to engage with environmental institutions to craft remedies for existing environmental impacts, this research aims to highlight regulatory ingredients that are necessary for sound environment regulation and better outcomes through compliance. If translated into concrete policy on environmental monitoring and compliance, these lessons could address the chasm between enforcement of environmental regulations and the ever-growing difficulties of meeting environmental challenges.