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NEED AND IMPORTANCE OF ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS IN INDIA

INTRODUCTION

We all need a healthy and clean environment to live in. It is not only a basic need but a necessity. Climate change, which wreaks havoc on human life, can easily be triggered if we won’t take good care of our environment. And it is now visible and clear that if the implementation of laws on the protection of the environment does not take the right turn, it will be nearly impossible to leave healthy earth for the next generation. Preservation and restoration of the environment can not be achieved alone by a single person or organization. We need a global effort to decrease the level of pollution and restore this environment by making more careful use of resources. Because of this, most of the countries in this world have realized it and in return have formulated laws for the same and India is doing something the same as them. [1]

CONSTITUTION AND ENVIRONMENT

In the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976, a new provision was added in Part IV-A which deals with “Fundamental Duties”. This article specifies fundamental duties with respect to the environment. It says that it is the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures. Article 21 states the Right to life, which also includes the right to a proper clean environment which is free from infections and diseases. The right to life will become senseless if there is no healthy environment. [2]

CLIMATE CHANGE LAWS AND POLICY FRAMEWORK IN INDIA

India for climate change does not have any special or specific legislation. Although India has taken some worthwhile measures to combat climate change. India needs to decrease the effects of climate change as much as it can, since the population is large and, with that, India is aware of it’s global responsibilities towards climate change. India ranks 6th in terms of energy and demand when compared to the whole world. And, in upcoming years, this rank will increase not only the demand for oil but also sea and air transportation, which in the end leads to energy consumption and degradation of the environment. With all of this, India needs a strong framework and laws on the protection of the environment. India has been very active in proposing projects like a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The Indian government has been trying to pass out initiatives and plans which decrease the emission of greenhouse gases, which are the very need of the hour.

NEED FOR ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS

  • The present situation of the environmental laws and protection in India:

According to the India State Forest Report 2019, India has 21.67% of its land under forest cover, which is way less than the minimum 33% forest area required in a country to maintain ecological balance. [3] This report also stated that even though the forest cover has increased, there is still a heavy decrease in forest cover in the north- east India, which is the main area of biodiversity in India. The Central Pollution Control Board plays only a mere role and, with that, the Indian environmental laws have been said to have many loopholes and a very weak framework. Even though there are several laws for environmental protection in India, it still ranks 5th on the list of most polluted countries. [4]

  • Relation between deadly diseases and environmental degradation:

The exploitation of wildlife, deforestation, the environment and degradation of ecological habits always result in outbreaks of deadly diseases. The question is why and how did this outbreak occur? Well, the answer to this lies in anthropogenic pressure.  This occurs when humans are in continuous and regular contact with wildlife and hence allowing the virus to evolve, mutate and transit into humans, which results in the birth and outbreak of a new and deadlier virus and diseases. These effects are in front of all of us humans and it is high time that preventive measures are taken. That’s why we need stricter laws and the old laws should be amended to meet the needs of the present situation. Buffer zones for reforestation should be made so that the interaction of humans with wildlife ends. Eco-tourism does help the economy increase, but it also backfires and for prevention, stringent laws for the protection of the environment are needed. [5]

  • Environment Court

Cases related to environmental pollution, ecological destruction and conflicts over natural resources are increasing, no doubt. And, with this, there is a need for more natural scientists who have expertise in this field. These cases require immense attention and a high level of expertise. Stringent laws are needed for these cases along with a good amount of scientific and technical sophistication. The experience shows that the standard of Criminal Courts under the arrangements of the Water Act, Air Act and the Environment (Protection) Act never arrive at their decision either due to the responsibility in these Courts or since there could be no appropriate enthusiasm for the meaning of the climate matters with respect to those responsible for leading those cases. After this, any order passed by authorities under these acts gets immediately questioned by the industries in courts and then those proceedings take years to reach a conclusion.

It is, thus, important to set up different hardware to chop down the defences which are impeding the execution of natural regulations. Further, the legal officials alone will most likely be unable to see the value in logical and specialized perspectives. It is, in this way, presented that arrangements be made for the foundation of the Climate Courts with one adjudicator and two specialists from the environmental and other sciences.[6]

DO WE NEED A NEW CLIMATE LAW?

We don’t require an environment-centred regulation in India, nor do we truly need any significant revisions to existing regulations to focus on environmental alleviation. Instead, environmental change ought to be one of the many aspects that ought to be considered in the execution of any regulation/strategy/program (alongside air pollution, energy access, work, energy security, orientation imbalances, biodiversity and so forth.). Existing regulations don’t give insurance against environmental change; a peculiarity needs a planned activity that of some sort or another is hard to accomplish absolutely through change. The resident’s advantage isn’t focused on the environmental activity at present; this should be changed through regulation. Furthermore, a different environmental regulation is a method for utilizing the courts all the more genuinely. If not, such a case will be founded on India’s worldwide commitments, activity plans and so on. These are strategic responsibilities which are not the most grounded course for enforceable commitments.

CONCLUSION

The regulations to manage the different natural issues are adequate in India. However, there is an absence of appropriate execution. However, there is no particular regulation in India to manage environmental change issues, yet this issue can be tended to through other ecological regulations in present in India as of now. In India, the general absence of progress in the worldwide local area, really means that there is a requirement for another administrative methodology both universally as well as inside India to elevate transformation to the effects of environmental change. On paper, as well as at the degree of execution, we are expected to achieve social changes among individuals to make them ecologically cognizant.

Author(s) Name: Neha Nehra (University Five Year Law College, Rajasthan University)

Reference(s):

[1] Minhas, Chandreshwari, ‘Analysing the Affectivity of Environmental Laws in India to the Response of Climate Change Challenges’  (2020) Vol.26. No. 1, IIAS.

[2] V.k. Agarwal “Environmental Laws in India: Challenges for Enforcement” (2005) Vol.15, Bulletin of the National Institute of Ecology

[3] Aggarwal, Mayank. “India’s forest cover is rising but northeast and tribal areas lose.” MONGABAY. 3 January 2020 <https://india.mongabay.com/2020/01/indias-forest-cover-is-rising-but-northeast-and-tribals-lose/#:~:text=According%20to%20the%202019%20report,(21.54%20percent)%20in%202017> (accessed June 17, 2022).

[4] Admin, “Environmental Laws & Protection Acts in India – Emergence, Present Situation and Way Forward” (planning tank, 09 July 2020)  < https://planningtank.com/environment/environmental-laws-protection-acts-india#_edn2 >  Accessed 17 June 2022.

[5] Admin, “Environmental Laws & Protection Acts in India – Emergence, Present Situation and Way Forward” (planning tank, 09 July 2020)  <https://planningtank.com/environment/environmental-laws-protection-acts-india#_edn2>  Accessed 17 June 2022.

[6] Chandra Bhushan and Tarun Gopalakrishnan. (2021). Environmental Laws and Climate Action: A case for enacting a framework climate legislation in India. International Forum for Environment, Sustainability and Technology, New Delhi, accessed 17 June 2022.