Widening the scope of corporate environmental responsibility for a sustainable future, the government wants companies, both private and public sector units, to set up dedicated bodies and allocate a budget to ensure better compliance — over and above the present legal requirements.
In a draft paper to institutionalise the concept and put the onus on India Inc, the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) has proposed that business organisations adopt a ‘Corporate Environmental Policy’ at the company board level.
To be communicated to all employees and also made public, the policy aims to target for higher environmental standards, above the existing guidelines, and ensure commitment from the top management for allocation of financial, human and organisational infrastructure and technology for implementation, the draft put up for feedback from the industry and common public says.
Throwing the ball in the court of the company board to monitor and ensure compliance, the new plan wants the corporate environmental performance to be included in the firm’s annual report.
Achieved milestones should be supported by documentary evidence in the form of photographs, records or other data. Organisations unable to comply should inform the stakeholders (government agencies etc) the reasons for the same.
“There is a need to integrate environmental concerns in mainstream corporate policies. It is desirable that corporate houses and PSUs adopt and implement a concrete policy to protect the environment,” an official said.
While the industry said such policy on voluntary lines is welcome, activists doubt the efficacy of guidelines not legally binding on the companies.
“What use is a policy that is not binding on companies who blatantly violate even legal conditions,” said Srinivas Ganjivarapu, co-ordinator, Samata, an environmental NGO working in tribal, forest areas of Andhra Pradesh.