The Green Hour Vol. 1 Issue II | The Budget-Session 2023

The Green Hour Vol. 1 Issue II | The Budget-Session 2023

The second edition of The Green Hour provides an in-depth analysis of the discussions surrounding environmental issues during the Budget Session (2023) of the Indian Parliament.

Shashank Pandey Debadityo Sinha Shikha Sharma

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The Green Hour is a periodical that traces environment-related developments during the parliamentary sessions. The first edition of the series covering the 2022 Winter-Session was released in January 2023. This Report is the second edition of The Green Hour and covers the Parliament’s Budget-Session (January-April) 2023. The report collates data from official sources and presents it in a manner that facilitates convenient access, engagement and understanding of parliamentary proceedings with respect to environmental issues.

The report is organized into 7 Chapters. In Chapter 1, we lay out the utility, purpose, and scope of this report. In Chapter 2, we decode the responses of the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (“MoEFCC”) to the questions filed with it by various Members of Parliament (“MPs”). It also covers environment-related issues raised by the MPs with respect to their States/ Union Territories. The responses by MoEFCC are categorised into 10 subject-wise themes and analysed in detail to give deeper insights into the issues occupying the most space in the questions by MPs.

In Chapter 3, the main highlights from the budget with reference to the MoEFCC; issues related to the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023 (“FCA Bill”); and the report of the Joint Committee on the Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (“JC-BDA Bill”) are discussed. In Chapter 4, other interventions in the Parliament, such as the Zero-Hour, Special Mentions, etc., are summarily discussed.

In Chapter 5, we analyse relevant committee reports discussed or tabled during the Budget-Session. In Chapter 6, titled ‘Beyond the Parliament’, we discuss important legal and policy developments related to the environment and MoEFCC.

The following are the key highlights of the Budget-Session of the Parliament:

I. Responses of MoEFCC in the Parliament during Question Hour

In total, the government answered 10,371 questions in both houses of Parliament, of which 4,371 were in the Rajya Sabha (“RS”) and 6,000 in the Lok Sabha (“LS”). The MoEFCC responded to 399 questions, which accounts for 3.85% of the total number of questions. This includes 205 in the LS and 194 in the RS.

Most of the questions responded to by the MoEFCC were filed by MPs from Maharashtra (76), Uttar Pradesh (68), Andhra Pradesh (51), Kerala (40), and West Bengal (36). There was a significant increase in the number of questions from North-East India and Himalayan States compared to the last session of Parliament.

State/UT-wise representation of the number of MPs asking questions to the MoEFCC in Parliament. For further details, download the report.

The highest number of responses (178) in this session were related to the functioning of various institutions such as Pollution Control Boards, Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority, Forest Survey of India, etc. This was followed by responses related to Environmental Management (144), Conservation of Ecosystems (133), Climate Change (74), Species and Habitats (69), Landscapes of Special Importance (38), Environmental Permissions (37), Developmental Activities (37), Protected Landscapes (37), and Forest Regulation (20). A detailed analysis of each of these themes is provided in Chapter 2.

Bills Introduced in the Parliament

The MoEFCC introduced the FCA Bill in the LS in March 2023, proposing amendments to the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. The revised version of the Biological Diversity Amendment Bill, 2021 was also moved in February 2023 after receiving comments/suggestions from the JC-BDA Bill. No Private Member Bills were introduced in this session.

Interventions by MPs to Raise Environmental Matters

In LS, 8 out of 133 Zero-Hour notices and 61 out of 436 Rule 377 interventions and in RS, 2 out of 13 Special Mentions and 2 out of 30 Zero-hour notices were related to environmental matters.

Committee Reports

The Department-Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment, Forests and Climate Change in its 378th report considered Demand-For-Grants pertaining to the MoEFCC for B.E. 2023-24. The Joint Committee on the Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provisions) Bill, 2022 submitted its report in the Parliament.

Beyond the Parliament

The Committee on Government Assurances, in its 76th Report, submitted a review of pending assurances pertaining to the MoEFCC. As per the report, there were 49 assurances pertaining to the MoEFCC pending implementation. The committee reviewed 3 pending assurances of the MoEFCC and made detailed observations/ recommendations on the same.

The MoEFCC notified Breeders of Species Licence Rules in April 2023 which lay down the procedure for granting of licence to any person who is engaged or intends to breed in captivity or artificially propagating a scheduled specimen listed in Appendix I to Schedule IV of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972. The MoEFCC also published the ‘Draft Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management and Transboundary Movement) Amendment Rules, 2023’ in May 2023 which aims to regulate Extended Producers Responsibility for used oil. Recently, the ‘Draft Green Credit Programme Implementation Rules, 2023’ was published by the MoEFCC for public consultation.

The Ministry of Mines published draft amendments to the Offshore Areas Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act, 2002 for public consultation in February 2023. The Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying published the Live-stock and Live-stock Products (Importation and Exportation) Bill, 2023 in June 2023 for public comments but later withdrew it.

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