The protection of environment by laws in India is one of the cardinal laws a country should have. The relationship between the environment and human beings is very perplexed. Since human is harming nature for his own benefits, nature is also avenging its exploitation. One way where we praise nature, the other way we harm it for our own needs. The objective of environmental law is to preserve and protect nature’s gifts from pollution. It acts as a guardian of the environment.
India is one of those countries which has an environmental law to protect its environment. In the last few decades, the protection of the environment by laws has been the major point of concern for the supreme court and the people of India. Certain other steps have also been taken in this regard.
Let us discuss them in the following article :
- The department of the environment was created in 1981 which acts as an agency protecting the environment. It monitors pollution, conserves natural resources,
- Forestry Education and Research: The Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education is the main forestry research and education center in the country. It organizes seminars and conferences on forest management.
- The pollution of rivers, lakes, and seas is a direct result of the population explosion and large scale industrialization. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act was passed by the Parliament in 1974 to tackle this problem. The Act tends to provide legal deterrents against the spread of water pollution. It applies to the States of Bihar, Assam, Gujarat, Haryana, H. P., J&K, Karnataka, Kerala, M.P. Maharashtra, etc.
- The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) acts as an advisor to the government, it resolves disputes, collects and publishes data related to water pollution.
- The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 This Act has been passed to provide for the prevention, control, and abatement of air pollution.
Let us throw light on a few cases in the area of environmental law:
- M.C. Mehta and Anr. Etc vs. Union Of India and Ors. Etc1 also known as Oleum Gas Case, discusses absolute liability. The Supreme Court held that no industry can carry out any hazardous activity which if escapes can cause damage in a place that is close to human habitation.
- Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra, Dehradun vs. State of Uttar Pradesh2: This case gave birth to the concept of sustainable development. It said that natural resources should be used carefully by the generations and should not be exhausted.
- Indian Council for Enviro-Legal Action vs. Union of India3 introduced the concept of ‘Polluter Pays Principle‘
- Animal Welfare Board of India vs. A. Nagaraj and Ors.4 prohibited Jallikattu and all other forms of animal races and fights.
- Subhash Kumar vs. State of Bihar and Ors.5 where the right to Pollution Free Environment was declared to be a part of Right to Life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
We also come across a few amendments to the Indian Constitution. Let us go through them once:
- The 42nd Amendment to the Constitution of India added Article 48A and 51A(g) which comes under the Directive Principle of State Policy and the Fundamental Duties respectively. The Supreme Court of India in “Sachidanand Pandey v. State of West Bengal6” stated that the Court is bound to bear in mind the above said articles whenever a case related to Environmental problem is brought to the Court.
- Article 48A states: “The State shall endeavor to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forest and wildlife of the country.”
- The article 51A(g) imposes a duty upon every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment and confers the right to come before the Court for appropriate relief.
- The Apex Court in “Damodar Rao v. S.O. Municipal Corporation7” held that the environmental pollution and spoliation which is slowly poisoning and polluting the atmosphere should also be regarded as amounting to a violation of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
There are several other cases, acts, amendments which seek to protect the environment.