2006: The waterloo year <br>

  • 14/01/2007

T he year 2006 will go down as environment's watershed year. This is not because this year we have had extraordinary success in environmental management; there was also no environmental disaster per se . This year must be remembered because the task of environmental management has come to be even more contested and even more challenged. Protests against environmental degradation have grown. But so have efforts to deny environmental concerns or to dilute regulations. This is partly because economic growth has become the single biggest obsession of the country. It is also because environmental institutions have not been up to the challenge of standing by their agenda. But it is mostly because we as a society have not internalised how environment can become the instrument of economic change.

Just recall the million mutinies over dam projects, forest degradation, mining, industrial pollution and real estate development. But also recall how crucial regulations to protect the environment have been negated this year from provisions for environmental impact assessments to those for coastal zone regulation. Indeed recall how builders of real estate lobbied strenuously to weaken any provision that would regulate their development