IMPORTANCE OF ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNING

In the process of development, the issues confronting today are achieving desired development for economic or social reasons on one hand and safe guarding the environment and maintaining good quality living conditions on the other. While taking up developmental activities, the assimilative capacities of the environmental components i.e., air, water and land to various pollution are rarely considered. Also, lack of proper land use control is resulting in poor land use compatibility. The developmental activities being haphazard and uncontrolled are leading to over use, congestion, incompatible land use and poor living conditions. The problems of environmental pollution are becoming complex and are creating high risk environment. Conventionally, the environmental pollution problems are solved by introducing environmental management techniques such as control of pollution at source, providing of sewage treatment facilities etc. However, environmental risks are not being controlled completely by such solutions. The environmental aspects are to be induced into each of the developmental activities at the planning stage itself and are to be well coordinated and balanced. Presently, the environmental aspects are not usually considered while preparing master plans or regional plans and the process is skewed towards developmental needs. For all developmental activities, a crucial input is land and depending on the activity a specific land use is decided. The environmentally related land use such as trade and industry, housing construction, mining etc. are likely to have some impact on the environment. These land uses need proper planning and integration as some of the activities have interdependencies such as industry with transport, housing etc.

Environmental planning is a positive process which facilitates impactful decisions associated with land development methods. The major portions which are given more considerations include natural environment, political, social, governance and economic factors. A holistic framework is provided to achieve a sustainable outcome. Environmental planning mainly aims at the creation of sustainable communities to prevent and conserve the undeveloped land. With the help of environmental planning, the relationships between the natural and the human systems can easily be managed and maintained. The major decision-making processes regarding the above-mentioned factors are mainly dealt with environmental planning. It makes huge effort to manage and maintain all these processes in a very orderly, equitable, transparent and effective manner. This ensures beneficent of all the constituents now and later, which are present within the systems. Environmental planning is an essential procedure for every project because it will help inspire a win-win situation for both the society and the environment. With effective environmental planning, everyone will benefit by using the area in helpful and constructive ways. Most importantly, this will also be advantageous to the environment as it'll be able to preserve itself for future generations. To help you gain a better understanding of its importance, here are three components involved in environmental planning.

1. The first one is the current status of the natural environment – taking all the existing uses, features and natural resources at hand into account. This is where we assess the area that will be used for the project. Without this step, environmental site assessments aren't possible.

2. Secondly, we have the part that involves goal setting and other measurable objectives. This is where professionals come up with plans to achieve the best possible result for the site.

3. The third one is putting these plans into action with the right people, materials and technology

 

If the environmental considerations are absence in planning:

Presently, the environmental aspects are not usually considered while preparing master plans and the process is skewed towards developmental needs. For all developmental activities, a crucial input is land and depending on the activity a specific land use is decided. The environmentally relevant land uses are trade and commerce, housing construction, transport facilities (road, rail and water), utilities (water – surface and ground etc.), refuse/hazardous waste disposal facilities, wastewater installations, quarrying and mining, power generation, forestry, recreation and tourism etc. These land uses are likely to have impact on the environment. There is a need for assessment of the land in terms of not only the economic aspects but also the environmental aspects and the land uses are accordingly to be allocated so that the natural environment and ecological balance is not disturbed.
The environmental problems of concern and increased environmental risks are due to air pollution from vehicular, industrial and domestic sources, noise pollution, water pollution – lack of proper storm water drainage and sewerage system, improper and inadequate garbage collection and disposal system, haphazard siting of industries/processes, transportation, storage and handling of toxic or hazardous chemicals, lack of adequate open spaces and green areas; etc. Conventionally, the environmental pollution problems are solved by introducing environmental management techniques such as control of pollution at source, providing of sewage treatment facilities etc. These measures are proving to be inadequate because of the complexity associated with the dynamics of development
and to manage these all issues Environmental planning is an essential.

 

Environmental Planning Initiatives by CPCB

Environmental planning is a relatively new tool for environmental protection in India. Historically, the Central and the State Pollution Control Boards were entrusted with environmental protection with emphasis on control and abatement of industrial pollution. The prevailing situation of industrial siting and incompatible surrounding land uses demands adoption of more reliable and long-lasting solutions. The need for environmental planning was understood by CPCB and the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF), Govt. of India. Consequently, certain pilot studies were taken up at Central as well as State level. Experience with this type of studies, in particular in the Union Territory of Pondicherry (1988) and for Hassan District in Karnataka (1991-1993), stimulated CPCB and SPCBs to start a programme on developing necessary capacities for environmental planning within the environmental administration. The provisions for this strategic development are founded in the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, which authorizes the Central Government “to take all such measures as it seems necessary for the purpose of protecting and improving the quality of the environment and preventing, controlling and abating environmental pollution”. Measures under this clause may include “planning and execution of a nation-wide programme for the prevention, control and abatement of environmental pollution”. This task of environmental management includes also spatial (geographical) aspects as “restriction of areas in which any industries, operation or processes shall not be carried out or shall be carried out subject to certain safeguards.” The best environmental planning allows for the weighing of alternatives that otherwise might not be considered by those proposing some kind of project or action. One compelling set of examples is the importance of weighing the full range of options for addressing things like providing the “work” we want done in our communities, whether that is transportation, providing for comfortable buildings, providing lighting, and food preparation and storage.

Generally, when these activities are considered, the assumption is these will require fossil fuels to either directly provide the fuel for the work to be done, or electricity produced by fossil fuels. That thinking is heavily reinforced by the industries that provide those energy sources who insist that the work can’t be done without their products, that there will be unreliability, and our economy will fall apart as a result. Because these companies often drive the decision making about large projects like coal or natural gas power plants or oil pipelines, too often a massive commitment of irretrievable resources means that there is neither the capacity nor the will to choose a less fossil fuel intensive source. A true, objective planning exercise to meet any of these needs would start considering all options, starting with right sizing the amount of energy needed to achieve the work. Additional considerations would be to look at the energy options closest to the use (to reduce transmission costs and investments), those that are most protective of other values in the community (less pollution, less greenhouse gas production), and those that are most sustainable (requiring less shifting of fuel sources).

Together We Will Grow, Together We Will Build

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