TODAY -

Legal position for protection of environment

W Darakeshwar Singh *



Environment protection is important for human beings since time immemorial. Every human being is dependent on nature for its existence. The ancient texts highlight that everybody should protect nature as per duty and Indians are always concerned about nature.

The ancient Greeks developed the first environmental philosophy followed by India and China. It would be pertinent to mention here that the protection of the environment is a common subject for every human being.

In the recent era, the protection of the environment is a matter of concern for humanity. Due to pollution, global warming, overpopulation, deforestation, over consumption, technological advancement and industrialization the condition of our environment is deteriorating day by day.

As a result, environmental law is obligatory to prevent and eliminate acts and behaviours which are detrimental to the environment. World is rapidly losing its biodiversity due to over exploitation of natural resources and unplanned development. As per global assessment by the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity andEcosystem Services (IPBES), the world has lost 87% of its wetlands in the past 300 years due to rapid urbanisation and unsustainable agriculture, and 3.2 billion people or two-fifths of humanity are affected due to worsening land degradation.

Population and its impact on environment has to be balanced. It would be pertinent to mention here the evolution of agriculture and farming heralded a new era which theorized that world population is growing exponentially as against an arithmetic growth-rate for foodstuffs. As a result, existing food would fail to support the population after a certain interval of time.

Catastrophes like deadly diseases, famines, natural disaster and war would then bring the population under control again. By the 16th century, the number had reached 500 million. By the middle of the current century, the figure is expected to reach 9.3 billion, which is beyond the capacity of the planet, according to the renowned Malthusian theory.

Thus, India and many other developing countries need to ensure urgent steps, so that world population could be brought under control. Since it would take decades to experience the effects of any affirmative action initiated now, So, it is a sine-qua-non to act in haste.

Environmental protection focuses on solving problems arising from the interaction between humans and environmental systems and includes issues related to conservation, pollution, loss of biodiversity, land degradation or environmental policy.

Environmental protection focuses on solving problems arising from the interaction between humans and environmental systems and includes issues related to conservation, pollution, loss of biodiversity, land degradation or environmental policy.

The key aim of environmental protection is to prevent the degradation of the natural environment which is affected by increasing population, technology and over consumption, all of which have created a negative impact on the environment and humans and animals at risk.

What is Environment ?

The word Environment has been derived from the French word “Environia’ which means “to surround”. It consists of both biotic and abiotic components. As per section-2 (a) of the Environment Protection Act, 1986 “environment includes water, air and land and the interrelationship which exists among and between water, air, land and human being, other living creatures, plants, microorganism and property.

Environmental Law in India

Previously Courts in India did not show interest in the administrative domain for environmental protection. The “Silent Valley Case” is a classic example in this regard. Over some time, litigations related to environmental issues grew rapidly. Gradually, Courts set up a socio-legal Commission. Thus, taking the indigenous judicial approach the Courts and the Tribunals used the sustainable development principle, precautionary principle and polluter pays principle to decide on environmental issues.

Now, the Courts in India use an open environmental assessment approach. The first attempt at a comprehensive statutory Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) programme began on 27th January, 1994 when the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests issued a notification dealing with mandatory EIA.

To give effect to the international conference, Bhopal Gas Leak Tragedy, 1984 and Oleum Gas Leak Case, 1985 the following laws have been passed by Parliament.

1) Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 and State policies and rules made thereunder;
2) The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972;
3) The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974;
4) The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980;
5) The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981;
6) The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986;
7) The (National Environment Tribunal) Act, 1995;
8) The National Environment Appellate Authority Act, 1997;
9) The Biological Diversity Act, 2002 and
10) The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010.

In India, the awareness towards improving the quality of environment has increased substantially and all efforts are being made at different levels to minimise environmental pollution and thus help in improving the quality of life.

Awareness and education are important inputs for a correct appraisal of environmental problems. In December, 1982 International Conference on Environmental Education was held in New Delhi which emphasized that environmental education must start from childhood.

As per orders from the Court now 2 slides free of cost on environment-related awareness will be shown in every Cinema Hall and the environment has become a compulsory subject upto class 12 from Academic Session, 1992 and University Grants Commission will also introduce this subject in higher classes in different Universities.

In MC Mehta Vs U.O.I (1983) 1 SCC 471 the Hon’ble Supreme Court has held that under Article 51-A(g) the Central Government must introduce compulsory teaching of lessons for at least 1 . hour a week on protection and improvement of the natural environment in all the educational institutions of the country.

This will help everyone improve the importance of environmental awareness. Environmental impact assessment must be made a statutory obligation, so that we can avoid accidents like Bhopal Gas Leak Tragedy in future.

Environment protection is a matter of concern for every human being dependant on nature for existence. A secured future depends on the environment. Every human has a moral obligation to protect our mother environment and promote sustainable development of the planet for future generations.

Indian Courts have shown a positive trend to resolve environmental problems by evaluating the balancing technique between development and environmental task.


* W Darakeshwar Singh (Advocate) wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on 08 April 2024

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