The Access Initiative



South Asia


Environmental Democracy Index Score

Overall, India's EDI scores demonstrate its commendable progress in enacting a strong right to information law and providing broad rights for the public to use the judicial system to seek justice on environmental matters.  India has a strong right to information law with narrowly defined exceptions and a public interest test to allow confidential information to be released when it is in the public interest. The Justice system provides clear review procedures for all administrative decisions, as well as for decisions taken by private actors. India’s law recognizes broad legal standing (e.g. any member of the public acting in the public interest) in all proceedings concerned with environmental matters. Consistent with a trend across the EDI results, India’s lowest pillar score was public participation. India’s national laws do require that the public be provided with opportunities to participate in environmental impact assessments. Countries that score higher on this pillar also provide for early-stage public participation across a wide range of environmental decisions. India's scores highlight considerable progress in promoting environmental democracy while also highlighting areas for improvement, especially in public participation.

Visit the Environmental Democracy Index to explore the EDI score.

As a signatory to Principle 10, India has made some progress to put its environmental democracy commitments into practice. It has established a legal infrastructure for access rights, including the EIA process, the introduction of public hearings of select projects requiring EIA’s, and setting up grievance redressal mechanisms in the the form of the National Environment Appellate Authority and the National Environmental Tribunal. Despite some of these advances, there is still a discrepancy between the law and implementation and enforcement. TAI Assessment indicators were used by the Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) in 2001 in New Delhi for a pilot study on pollution control. In 2004, the Idma Foundation for Sustainable Development launched an outreach strategy based on findings from the pilot assessment, leading to multiple publications on Indian environmental laws. These findings spurred a larger coalition of Indian NGO’s to look into carrying out more assessments throughout India, eventually forming TAI India. Starting in 2008, the Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE) and Environics Trust became TAI India’s lead organizations, further expanding the coalition. They completed a TAI assessment for the State of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand in 2008 and completed  a nation-wide TAI assessment. Since then, the TAI India coalition has been active on a wide range of access and environmental issues.

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