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In the Constitution of India, it is clearly stated that it is the duty of the state to ‘protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country’. It imposes a duty on every citizen ‘to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife’. References to the environment have also been made in the Directive Principles of State Policy as well as in interpretations to the Fundamental Rights.
Article 48-A of the Indian Constituion says: “The State shall endeavor to protect & improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country.” Article 51-A deals with the fundamental duties of the citizen. Article 51-A (g) states: “It shall be duty of every citizen of India to protect & improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures.” Article 19 deals with the fundamental rights of the citizen. So “Right to Protect the Environment” comes within Article 19. The ten Fundamental Duties— given in Article 51-A of the constitution—can be classified as either duties towards self, duties concerning the environment, duties towards the State and duties towards the nation.
“Directive Principles of State Policy” directs that the government should keep them in mind while framing laws, even though they are non-justifiable in nature.
· Mining: The problems that many have faced with the existent mining laws and regulations is that companies that obtain the right to mine do not fulfil the duties that come along with the right, such as the duty to rehabilitate those displaced due to the mining activities.
The draft Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Bill, 2010, which proposes to replace the existing law that has existed since 1957, has some welcome and much-needed mechanism to check the scourge of illegal mining, ensure that the industry is less destructive of the environment, and includes all stakeholders in the profits produced.
It also proposes that a quarter of the net profits of the company go to those displaced by the mining, the land losers. The draft Act also lays emphasis on sustainable development. Among various provisions to enforce the principles of sustainable development and conservation of minerals, it provides for restoration of mining land to cultivability on closure of a mine.
The Forest Conservation Act 1980 was enacted to help conserve the country’s forests. It strictly restricts and regulates the de-reservation of forests or use of forest land for non-forest purposes without the prior approval of Central Government. To this end the Act lays down the pre-requisites for the diversion of forest land for non-forest purposes.
· Energy: Energy and the resources it is derived from have become a matter of serious concern with the growing awareness of climate change.
The primary goal is to replace non-renewable sources of energy with renewable sources and reduce our consumption to an extent where the reserves may be sustained for future generations. The nature of this aim for sustainable development is that it is less a goal to be reached, than one to be sustained.
Much of the framework of current Indian environmental laws was created as a response to the Bhopal Gas Tragedy in 1984. The Environment (Protection) Act, passed in 1986, and the subsequent subsidiary acts and legislations was supposed to set up a legislative, regulatory, and administrative mechanism in India to ensure that environmental
violations were redressed, and the principle of polluters pays and administrative oversight conducted to ensure that industrial accidents such as the Bhopal Gas Tragedy did not occur again.
Intergenerational equity is among the newest norms of international environmental law. It can best be understood not so much as a principle, but rather as an argument in favour of sustainable economic development and natural resource use. If present generations continue to consume and deplete resources at unsustainable rates, future generations will suffer the environmental (and economic) consequences. It is our children and grandchildren who will be left without forests (and their carbon retention capacities), without vital and productive agricultural land and without water suitable for drinking or sustaining cultivation or aquatic life. Therefore, we must all undertake to pass on to future generations an environment as intact as the one we inherited from the previous generation.
The Wildlife Protection Act provides for the protection of wild animals, birds and plants, but gives varying degrees of protection to different categories listed under 6 schedules. The protection is given from destructive and exploitative activities such as hunting, taxidermy and collecting parts of the animal or bird as a token or 'trophy'.
Schedule I and part II of Schedule II of the Wildlife Protection Act provide absolute protection - offences under these are prescribed the highest penalties. Species listed in Schedule IV are also protected, but the penalties are much lower
· Meaning of Environment and Environmental Pollution
· Air and Water Pollution
· International Development for Protection of Environment: India has obligations under numerous international treaties and agreements that relate to environmental issues. As a contracting party, India must have ratified a treaty, that is, by adopting it as national law before it came into force, or by acceding to it after it has come into force. For a treaty to enter into force, the requisite number of countries must ratify the treaty, which then has the force of international law.
International institutions are generally not responsible for directly implementing and enforcing international environmental law, but they often play important monitoring, informational and diplomatic roles. For example, the 1992 Convention on the Conservation of Biological Diversity (Biodiversity Convention)(1) created a new international body, the Committee on Sustainable Development (CSD). The CSD lacks the power to bring enforcement actions against either governments or private parties, but it plays a role in implementing the Biodiversity Convention.
India is a member of several international conventions and treaties dedicated towards the protection and preservation of our natural world. The notable ones include, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention on Biodiversity, the Montreal Protocol etc.
At the UN Convention on the law of the sea, India was among the countries that ratified that there are some parts of nature that cannot have the nature of property, and belong equally to everyone. These aspects of nature, such as the sea bed, the moon, the high seas are a common heritage of all mankind and everyone has an equitable responsibility towards its preservation.
Polluter Pays: the polluter pays principle is based on equity, and it basically amounts to stating that whoever pollutes, or does any activity that would result in the pollution of the environment, must bear the costs of preventing or remedying that pollution.
Precautionary Principle: The precautionary principle states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking the action.
An EIA may be defined as a formal process to predict the environmental consequences of human development activities and to plan appropriate measures to eliminate or reduce adverse effects and to augment positive effects. The EIA law was passed in 1994, which required that any project which may result in damage to the environment or pollution must seek for an impact assessment to be conducted by the Agency. This assessment is to be made in consultation with experts and the report is to be made publicly available before the Public Hearing.
National Green Tribunal Act: A new Act was passed by the Parliament which provided for the setting up of a Green Tribunal which will act as a fast track court for all environment related civil cases.