In this article, we learn about emergence of environmental laws and how it is important for us.
Today Environmental pollution and climate change have become a global threat for the existence and survival of human race. Unpolluted air to breathe, uncontaminated water to drink, nutritious food, hygienic living conditions are the essence of our life. In order to survive , we adapt the environment. But we rarely give the importance to taking the efforts to improve it.This is either because we are indifferent or we feel that we lack the ability to bring about positive changes in the society. Environment and life are inter-related. Human depend on Earth’s natural resources; such as air, water and land. There are several environmental laws in India as well as in the foreign countries in order to save the planet earth.
Provision for environment protection in the constitution:
Article 21: Right to life includes Right to pollution free environment.
Article 38: our constitution requires state to ensure a social order for the welfare of people which can be obtained by an unpolluted and clean environment only.
Part IV: Article 48 A: Protection for improvement of environment and safeguarding of forest and wildlife.
PART IV A: Article 51A clause(g): It imposes a fundamental duty on every citizen to protect and improve the natural environment. There is protectionist policy as well as improvenistic policy.
Protectionist policy imposes ban on those things which lead to environmental degradation, e.g. ban on use of leaded petrol, ban on use of plastic bags etc.
Improvenistic policy refers to alternatives that can be used for improvement of environment, e.g. use of CNG or low Sulphur fuel, free plantation in industrial areas etc.
Note: Article 48A and 51A(g) were added in Indian constitution in 42nd Amendment which are directive principle and fundamental duty respectively.
Under Article 253 of the Indian constitution the parliament has the power to make laws for the country. Using this article, Environment protection act was enacted. Environmental laws are much necessary for a particular country & these laws play very significant role in protecting the environment.
At international level:
The united nation conference on human environment was held at Stockholm in geneva in June 1972. It was the first conference on international protection of environment.
What is convention?
A meeting where a framework or basic guideline is prepared.
What is protocol?
It is final conversation. It is an agreement where the parties sign and accept the legal obligation.
Different conventions and protocols and its purpose:
1. Vienna convention,1985: Adopted for protection of ozone layer.
2. Montreal protocol: Adopted to reduce ozone depletion.
3. Basel convention 1982: for trans-boundary movement of hazardous waste.
4. Kyoto protocol, 1997: for climate change.
5. convention on biological diversity, 1992: for sustainable use of biological diversity.
6. Nagoya protocol 2014: fair and equitable sharing of benefits from convention of biological diversity.
The importance of environment traced back to India’s ancient tradition as well. Ancient tradition advocates protecting the environment. Several writings corroborate that protection and worship of nature is a part of individual’s practice of dharma. In the Vedas, Upanishads and such other religious texts the sun, air, fire , water were considered as forms of god. Trees and rivers were worshipped as forms of goddess. Yajnas were performed in Vedic society to purify the surrounding air. During the period of Aryan civilization, nature was exploited and the forest cleared .for satisfying the fast expanding social needs the concept of systematic management of forest was imagined by kautilya where the quantum of punishment was proportionate to the utility of trees.
The scenario now is industrial growth, urbanization and population growth have led to rapid environmental degradation. In the 70’s internationally there was an awakening towards the importance of environmental degradation. This can mainly be attributed to the Stockholm conference which was considered to be an eye opener regarding the environmental degradation. Many countries adopted new legislative measures to combat environmental pollution. India too adopted many such legislatives. This includes the preservation of the quality of air, water, and their pollution.
There are several acts passed in the country in order to make environmental laws for the sake of our planet. Some of these acts are :
Prevention and control of pollution act 1974:
Various acts in India address the quality of environment. One of the important acts is the water (PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF POLLUTION) Act of 1974. Water constitutes an important and integral part of our environment. Water is colorless, odorless, and transparent liquid. These qualities of water are lost when it becomes polluted and contaminated. The water (PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF POLLUTION) Act of 1974 aims to prevent and control water pollution. It helps to restore wholesomeness of water. Many industries like paper industry, chemical and fertilizer industries release their effluents in water systems. These are point source of pollution. One way to prevent water pollution is to control the point source by monitoring levels of hat pollutants that come out as waste. Citizens can help prevent water pollution by developing watchdog groups. They can monitor environment and inform to authorities to take appropriate actions against different types of water pollution
The people can form voluntary organizations and join hands with governmental agencies to fight environment crisis. Several writ petitions have been filed by prominent lawyers like MC Mehta. He has done us proud for getting various environmental policies in the place. He became very popular by filling public litigation interest (PIL), writ petition before the supreme court of India under article 32 of the Indian constitution. The famous M.C Mehta Vs Union of India which is also called Gang municipality’s case. I would like to tell the facts of this case in brief. The river Ganga is very famous for its historical significance and religious importance and is considered most sacred by the Hindus. A number of cities, towns and villages belonging to Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal etc are located on the banks of river Ganga. The Ganga water got polluted as industrial waste, chemical effluents were being discharged into the water. Further a number of dead bodies were being thrown into the river at kasi with a belief that the dead person would go directly into heaven. The sewage water in huge quantities from Calcutta, Kanpur, and other places were being discharged into the river. The sample of Ganga water at Kanpur was tested and was found not suitable for drinking purposes by UP water pollution control board; central leather research institute. M.C Mehta filed a public interest litigation petition in the supreme court under article 32 of the Indian constitution. The petitioner in his petition contented that the Kanpur municipal corporation failed to control the pollution under the ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION ACT, 1986 the water PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF POLLUTION) Act 1974 etc and prayed to direct the concerned authorities to take necessary steps. The supreme court allowed the petition and appreciated petitioner for taking initiative to protect the environment. The Kanpur Nagar Maha Palika was directed to take up the steps immediately to improve the sewage system and construct public lavatories and urinals in the slum areas, to abandon the practice of throwing corpses into the river, to the central government to direct all educational institutions throughout India to arrange to teach at least one hour in a week on protection and improvement of environment.
Air( Prevention and control of pollution) act 1981:
The government passed the Air (PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF POLLUTION) Act in 1981. It was to help keep our air clean by controlling emission of air pollutants. Air pollution is more acute in heavy industrialized and urbanized areas.
Many of us do not even test pollution caused by our own vehicles. How many of you have a valid pollution free certificate for your own two wheeler? if you are living in a city or visiting it, you will immediately notice that the air is extremely polluted. The law may not ever find and punish us but we are collectively paying the price for neglecting law. This price is paid in the form of the rising medical bill.
Environment protection act, 1986:
ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION ACT, 1986 was introduced after the Bhopal gas tragedy. Bhopal gas disaster was one of the worst chemical disasters in the history of the world. The government was held widely responsible for the failure to have effective laws to prevent or prosecute polluters of the environment. Soon after the Bhopal gas tragedy another destructible incident took place which was oleum gas leak. This incident also took away thousands of lives of the people.
In this tragedy it was the first time when an industry was solely held responsible and there was an adjudication of claims for compensation on behalf of victims of oleum gas leakage.
Our environment has already been deteriorated to a great extent and if we do not take appropriate steps to safeguard it, our existence on earth would soon be terminated. Furthermore we need to focus on sustainable because it is the pathway to the future we want for all. It is through this method our upcoming generation can use resources without further compromisation. “Polluters must pay” must be our motto and we ought to keep our city green and clean for our next generation.
Existence of nature is must for human existence. We, human beings have tortured our planet a lot with our activities. In order to save our nature, environment & planet, several environmental laws have been enacted by countries all around the world. It is a fact that our planet has suffered a lot & that’s why environmental laws’ role becomes very important for each & every country of the world as these laws help in betterment of our environment & our planet. To conclude “it is the people who are responsible for the quality of environment”. 5th June is celebrated as environment day but I must say that every day is environment day and we must take measures to protect our surroundings. Also, In my opinion, Government of India should make some more strict environmental laws in addition to the existing ones, so that the pollution caused by stuffs like plastic can be lessen. “Earth is our mother. In spite of our desire to harm our mother she will always love us forever. So let’s nurture the nature so that we can have better future.”
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