V. MONITORING MECHANISMS AND ENFORCEMENT SYSTEMS
B. Strengths and weaknesses of the existing monitoring mechanisms
For effective monitoring, the necessary requirements are a legislative framework, norms and standards, adequate testing facilities, skilled manpower, a suitable institutional structure and, most importantly, the necessary political will and bureaucratic commitment. The existing monitoring systems should be examined against those factors.
First, the legislative framework has yet to be completed. Even though EIA guidelines have been approved for national level use and for the forestry and industry sectors, they do not have legal sanction for enforcement. The guidelines have barely been used except in a few cases in the industrial sector. Conditions relating to the environment have been applied in issuing licences to some industries. But because of the lack of authority for enforcement, there is minimal follow-up.
NBSM is monitoring effluents produced by some industries such as tanneries, wool dyeing facilities and distilleries. However, with the exception of the tanneries, no follow-up action is taken. In the case of the tanneries, the industries concerned are brought together and persuaded to do something towards the abatement of environmental pollution; in Birgunj the installation of a pollution control system has been undertaken to treat effluent discharges from tanneries.
The legal bottleneck, it is hoped, will be solved in the near future with the approval of the regulations under the EPA and follow-up work on enforcing the various guidelines. With regard to norms and standards, they have yet to be developed. Tentative norms have been worked out in some cases, like vehicle emissions, tannery waste discharges etc. UNIDO is helping the Ministry of Industry to develop industrial pollution standards, and there has been some progress in that area; however, it will take time to complete the standards.
With regard to testing laboratories and other facilities, UNIDO and some other donors have been helping to equip the institutions concerned including NBSM and the Royal Nepal Academy of Science and Technology. An environmental laboratory has been established at NBSM, while similar facilities are gradually being developed in the private sector. With increasing donor interest in environmental protection, there should be little difficulty in establishing the necessary testing facilities. However, at present, existing facilities are far from adequate.
In the field of expert manpower, there are a few technicians at any level, whether trained locally or outside the country, employed in the various agencies. Once the EPA comes into force, the inadequacy of trained manpower will be acutely felt. Thus, without a comprehensive plan of training, the necessary manpower, monitoring and follow-up work will be seriously handicapped.
For effective monitoring, institutional structure is also an important factor. There are two aspects in that respect: one is the structure within an agency, and the other is intersectoral linkages. Most of the environmentally-related agencies have placed the environmental function at a high (division) level, thus giving the matter due importance. With regard to coordination, the key agency is the Ministry of Population and Environment. However, the functional relationship between the Ministry of Population and Environment and the other agencies will only become clear after the promulgation of the regulations.
Last, political will and bureaucratic commitment, which is the most important requirement for any sort of government endeavour, is an indeterminate factor. However, pressure from those people affected by environmental pollution and the need for EIA in any major project to be financed by external sources, particularly multilateral agencies, are already providing a push in that direction. With the legislative framework in place, more concerted, coordinated and sustained efforts should be forthcoming.
It should be noted that monitoring of specific environmental projects is proceeding satisfactorily. For example, under the Biodiversity Monitoring Programme designed by the World Wildlife Fund-United States Conservation Science Programme, King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation (KMTNC)/Nepal Conservation Research and Training Centre (NCRTC) wildlife technicians were trained to systemically conduct bird and vegetation surveys and a rhinoceros population census. The results are being provided to the Biodiversity Conservation Network