The word environment is derived from the French word “environ” which means “to enclose”. The term environment is used to denote all the elements that surround a man, which has been divided into two categories i.e, Nature environment and Physical environment. Human life is dependent on nature in many ways. Nature had made uncountable sacrifices for mankind, even in a situation of war it is the environment that suffers the most. In India, people used to appreciate these sacrifices by treating nature as god. It was believed that without a healthy environment it will become impossible for humans to live on this earth. But today’s scenario has made the condition of nature even worse. Man can be seen exploiting nature in every possible way. Due to the rapid increase in urbanisation and industrialization, human wants are also increasing which is putting a heavy amount of pressure on existing natural resources. The growing population has also become a reason for which natural resources are exploited. All these sudden changes are giving rise to environmental damages like climate change, pollution, destruction of flora and fauna, soil erosion etc. Thus, it has become very necessary for human beings to save the environment. The importance of this conservation of the environment and natural resources can also be seen in the Constitutional framework of India. Many environmental laws in India highlight the importance of maintaining an ecological balance in the environment by safeguarding the flora and fauna of the country.
Sustainable development refers to a development that takes place without damaging the environment and the need of the present generation is satisfied keeping in mind the need of the future generation. This approach encourages the recycling and reuse of goods as well as focuses on the judicial use of natural resources. This approach was developed to help in increasing the economy of the country without causing damage to the environment. The principle of sustainable development was introduced in the case of Vellore Citizen Welfare Forum v. Union of India. In this case, the Supreme Court of India held that tanneries are important for foreign exchange as well as also provides employment but simultaneously it harms the environment and also poses health hazards. The court ordered in the favour of the petitioner and asked the respondent to pay a certain amount of penalty.
PROVISION FOR ENVIRONMENTAL LAW IN INDIA
This Article comes under the Directive principle of State policy and Fundamental duty and was added by 42nd Amendment, 1976. Article 48A comes under the ambit of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution which is Right to Life. In this article, it is stated that the state must Protect the Environment and Safeguard Forests and Wildlife. Also, the state should make necessary provisions to protect the environment and its wildlife. This article also gives the right to citizens to live in a clean and healthy environment. In M.C. Mehta v. Union of India, the court held that the Government or state must protect the environment and people from hazardous substances and this duty is an obligation on the state under Article 32, 48A and 21 collectively. Also, a high penalty should be imposed on people who break those rules.
Article 51A (g)
This article was added in the 42nd Amendment, 1976 and is also included under the Directive principle of state Policy. This article imposes a duty on citizens to protect and safeguard the fauna and flora of the state and achieve the aim of a healthy environment as a whole. In the case of Sachidanand Pandey v. State of West Bengal, it was observed that the court is legally bound to consider Article 48A and Article 51A (g) of the Indian Constitution whenever there is a case related to the problem of ecology.
Under the Constitution of India, every citizen has the right to practice any job, profession or business or trade. Article 19(1)(g) restricts this right and states that citizens are not allowed to practice business, occupation or trade activities that are hazardous to public health. T.N. Godavarman Thirumulkpad vs. Union of India & Ors., in this, a writ petition was filed to protect Nilgiri Hills from deforestation activities. The Supreme Court in this case gave a balanced decision for both the parties citing that in a developing country like India, industrialization is as important as the quality of human life. So, there must be a balance between both developments as well as the quality of life.
Article 47 of the Indian Constitution states that citizens have to be aware of their surroundings and protect the environment. This article also imposes a duty on the state to protect nature and improve the living surrounding of its citizens. In the case of Hamid Khan vs. State of Madhya Pradesh, 1996, a petition was filed stating that a hand pump that was installed by the state government had excessive fluoride content and this caused serious disease to many people. The court, in this case, held that it is the responsibility of the state to provide clean water to people and raise their standard of living. Thus, the state was made liable in this case.
LEGISLATIONS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION-
National Green Tribunal Act, 2010
This is enacted under Article 21 of the Constitution and describes the right to live in clean and healthy surroundings. This act is related to the disposal of civil cases which are filed about environmental protection and conservation. This act includes the legal rights which are related to environmental protection.
Environment Protection Act, 1984
This act focuses on the improvement and protection of the environment. This act gives power to the central government to establish authorities to prevent environmental pollution in all possible ways and deal with environmental problems that are arising in different parts of the country.
Hazardous Waste Management Rules, 2016
These rules were made to efficiently manage the waste. Under these rules, the local colonies were guided to separate their waste into categories of biodegradable, non-biodegradable and other waste. After this, the waste which could be recycled and reused is processed in a specific manner. Thus, in this manner, these rules helped to dispose of the waste without causing any damage to the environment.
Forest Conservation Act, 1980
This act was made by parliament to save the forests from deforestation and to conserve them. The main aim of this act was to safeguard flora, fauna and other ecological components of the country. This act was a need because of the rapid deforestation and use of land for agricultural and commercial purposes. Hence, this act was introduced to cover the loss of forests that was already caused and also to prevent any further loss.
The Indian government has taken every step to protect the flora and fauna of the country but still, there is some scope for more laws. It is very important to realize that development is important but not at the cost of natural resources. There is a need for balance between these two. If all the laws that are made by the government related to the environment are working efficiently then only the natural resources of this country can be conserved. To bring change not only government legislations but small efforts of the general public also plays an important role. Not only laws should be made but the general public should also be made aware of the given laws related to the environment. Citizens should be made aware of their roles in saving the environment of our country. After all, a small change is essential for a big change to happen.
Author(s) Name: Yashi Sharma (Law College, University of Rajasthan)
 Pranav Sethi, ‘The linkage between the environmental protection and Indian Constitutional Law’ (blogipleaders, June 23, 2021), https://blog.ipleaders.in/linkage-environmental-protection-indian-constitutional-law/, accessed 15 March 2022.
 M.C. Mehta vs. Union of India, 1987 AIR 1086, 1987 SCR (1) 819.
 Sachidanand Pandey v. State of West Bengal AIR 1987 SC 1109.
 T.N. Godavarman Thirumulkpad vs. Union of India & Ors., Writ Petition (Civil) No. 202 of 1995.
 Hamid khan vs. State of Madhya Pradesh, 1996, AIR 1997 MP 191, 1997 (1) MPLJ 587.
 Constitution of India, 1950 Article 19(1)(a).