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“One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between man and nature shall not be broken”
The environment is the need because of which we all are alive and living happily, peacefully. We have to save the environment from the pollutants, dirt which is destroying our ecology. Development is not wrong, we all should develop with time. Change is the need of society and change is not constant therefore, there should be a balance between development and the environment. This article enhances our knowledge of environmental law, and sustainable development – its conceptual and theoretical aspect as well as the origin of sustainable development, followed by landmark judgments on this aspect.
Meaning of Environment
The word ‘environment’ is derived from the ‘French’ word ‘environner’ which means to ‘encircle’ or to ‘surround’. In lay-mans words, environment means surroundings, surroundings of our natural resources like land, air, water, forest, etc. These natural resources are the vital need of our lives but as human civilization grows our natural resources are dropping down. So, to protect these resources the various laws came into the picture which are The Environment Protection Act, 1986, then we have the Air Prevention and Pollution Control Act, 1981, the Water Prevention and Pollution Control Act, 1974, and the Forest Act, 1927.
Definition of Environment
Section 2(a) of the Environment Protection Act, 1986 defines ‘environment’ as environment includes water, air and land, and the inter-relationship which exists among and between water, air and land, and human beings, other living creatures, plants, microorganism, and property.
Etymologically the term, “Environment” connotes surroundings. It is a composite term relating to conditions wherein organisms including air, water, food, daylight, etc., stay and turn out to be dwelling assets for all of the dwelling and non-dwelling beings including temperature, wind, electricity, etc. Environment is the existing aid system. Nature constitutes the environment or the surroundings of man. The environment consists of water, air, and land and the inter-courting which exists amongst and between water, air and land and human beings, different dwelling creatures, plants, microorganism, and property.
The right to a wholesome environment is a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The question here arose is can the environment be protected in the present scenario when India is developing so immensely and it is at its peak stage of developing?
Industrialization leads to the vast development of the country which is the main cause of degradation of the environment. This issue is resolved worldwide by various experts by bringing forward the doctrine of sustainable development, which means that there should be a balance between development and ecology.
Origin of the Doctrine
The sustainable development doctrine is an old concept. The doctrine came as early as in 1972 in ‘Stockholm Declaration’ which states in Principle 1 that “Man has the fundamental right to freedom, equality and adequate conditions of life, in an environment of a quality that permits a life of dignity and well-being, and he bears a solemn responsibility to protect and improve the environment for present and future generations.” There were various reports for sustainable development one more important report is given in the Rio Declaration 1992. In this the conference was held in Rio De Janeiro which is held at the global level which is known as the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development or Earth Summit in which it was focused on two principles Principle 1 stated that “Human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development. They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature”. Principle 4 says “to achieve sustainable development, environmental protection shall constitute an integral part of the development process and cannot be considered in isolation from it”.
Need of Sustainable Development
- Scarcity of Resources –food and water are scarce as the population is increasing, development is taking place so fast that people started misusing the natural resources which will automatically lead to scarcity of resources.
- Climate Change- global warming is the main cause for climate change which is causing unseasonal rains, high temperature also it is the cause of extinction of islands and the underwater lives are also getting affected by climate change.
- Industrialization- this is also the main cause as industrialization is rapidly increasing for the development but these industries throw the polluted things in water which is consumed by the underwater species which is the main cause of their extinction also the fisherman are suffering due to this and the water if used in some areas for drinking is hazardous.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
The sustainable development goals came into picture to end poverty and to save our planet and to ensure peace and harmony. Sustainable Development Goals were adapted by the United Nation in 2015 and these goals are to be fulfilled by 2030. The main aim of the SDGs is to make the society develop in 15 years so immensely that there will not be any socio economic inequality. Poverty will vanish completely and the development should take place by balancing the ecology and the development. There are 17 goals and 169 targets which is to be accomplished in next 15 years for the development also it is for the people to become advance and will be versed in technology not only in technology but women and children all must be protected and given equal rights also in these 17 goals the whole environment has been taken care of, the Sustainable Development goals are listed below:-
- No Poverty
- Zero Hunger
- Good Health And Well-Being
- Quality Education
- Gender Equality
- Clean water And Sanitation
- Affordable And Clean Energy
- Decent Work And Economic Growth
- Industry, Innovation And Infrastructure
- Reduced Inequalities
- Sustainable Cities And Communities
- Responsible Consumption And Production
- Climate Action
- Life Below Water
- Life On Land
- Peace, Justice And Strong Institutions
- Partnerships For The Goals
There has been many case laws for the sustainable development goals some of the cases has been discussed in this article these case are as below:-
Case law- Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum v. Union Of India
In the Vellore Citizens case, the Supreme Court put forward the opinion that development and environment is no more against each other. The reason behind this is sustainable development as sustainable development is to satisfy the wants of the present generation without suppressing the future wants of the future generation. Sustainable development is balancing between the environment and development.
Case law- Tarun Bharat Singh v. Union Of India
In this case, the petitioner filed a PIL in the Supreme Court to bring into notice of the court that the State of Rajasthan has given power to protect the environment of their State which is its duty but an illegal mining is taking place in the forest area of tiger reserve in Alwar district of Rajasthan. The Supreme Court held that mining outside the protected forest is not permitted. Permission can be taken from the Central Government till then the construction should be stopped immediately and they have to close their mines if permission is not given by the Central Government.
Case law- M.C.Mehta v. Union Of India
This case law  is also known by the stone crushing unit closed case. In this case Supreme Court took into consideration the environmental pollution due to the stone crushing mines activities in and around Delhi, Faridabad, Ballabgarh areas. The court was wide awake that environmental changes are unavoidable significance of the industrial development in our country, simultaneously the environment shall also be protected and the air, water, land all should be free from pollution also the residential area should be free from hazardous pollution. This is why the court recapitulated, “every citizen has a right to fresh air and to live in a pollution free environment”. Therefore the Court held that this is the violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India and passed order under Article 32 and directed the stone crushing units to stop the mining. The court also directed the government to restore these stone crushers in the ‘crushing zone’ within the period of 6 months.
Organizations Working For Sustainable Development
The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) is an organization committed to supervising exploration for the sustainable development of the SAARC region. TERI was established in 1974 as an information center on energy issues. Although, over the backing decade, it has made a mark as an exploring institute, whose strategies and innovative solutions transformed people’s lives and the ecology. TERI’s main center lies in upgrading: clean energy, water management, pollution management, sustainable agriculture, climate resilience. The mission of TERI is to solve issues related to Indian society, and the world as a whole, and develop indigenous and time- saving solutions. Intensify networking for the sustainable interruption. Perceived prospects for national and international authority as an awareness representative of the change in the fields of energy, environment, other natural resources, and sustainable development.
Integrated Sustainable Energy and Ecological Development Association(INSEDA) is a national Indian organization established by NGOs and sole persons who had been engaged in the encouragement and execution of renewable energy projects with a special pivot on the execution of biogas development in rural areas of the country, since 1980. The main center of INSEDA is the development and advancement of sustainable rural energy in partnership with Indian NGOs, who are members, associate members, and sister and partner organizations of INSEDA. Since 1992, climate change diminution has been a major focus of the organization, with a systematic plan being executed to increase the climate flexibility of the rural poor in India.
Centre for Environment and Energy Development (CEED) is a solution-managing organization that efforts towards generating motivational solutions to maintain a healthy, clean, and sustainable environment. It is an individualistic organization dedicated to protecting our environment through research, building networks, campaigning, public mobilization, advocacy, and lobbying. They are indulged with various stakeholders consisting of the government, think tanks, civil society, and the groups to supply an interactive, inspiring, and positive manifesto to operate effective solutions on environment and energy issues. The foundation of CEED is laid on its four pillars of belief- Sincerity, Relevance, Effectively, Credibility.
The environment is the most beautiful thing we have in our lives. The natural resources which have given us so much to eat, drink and also for our economic source nature plays a vital role so somewhere we are obliged towards our environment. But practically we are lagging in preserving our nature as we are developing quickly with the time, we are changing with the time as our society is dynamic and change is the need of our society. From our ancestral era to the current era we have developed in every way in technology, industrialization, houses, economically, etc. We had utilized the natural resources for our self need but didn’t think to preserve them this is why we had polluted the water, land, air because we had used them for our self-purpose but haven’t thought of the resources, what will happen if these resources wouldn’t be available to us one day? Can we then develop? The answer is ‘No’ because without air, water, the land we can’t survive. So, to preserve these things the UN has come up with these sustainable development goals in which development will take place simultaneously there will be the protection of the environment and in those 17 goals the UN had not only focused on humans or human development but also the underwater lives, air, wildlife, also the various organizations Nationally and Internationally working for the better execution of Sustainable Development Goals.
- Earth 911, available at https://earth911.com/ (last visited on 19 december,2020).
- Introduction to Environment & Natural Resources available at: https://www.anits.edu.in/online_tutorials/es/Unit%201.pdf (last visited on 19 December, 2020).
- The Environment Protection Act, 1986 ( Act of 1986), s.2(a).
- The Constitution of India,1950, art. 21.
- The Stockholm Declaration 1972, principle 1.
- The Rio Declaration 1992, principle 1.
- The Rio Declaration 1992, principle 4.
- AIR 1996 SC 2715.
- 1993 SCR (3) 21.
- 1990 (3) SSC 256.
- The Energy And Resources Institute, available at http://www.teriin.org (last visited on 19 December, 2020).
- Integrated Sustainable Energy and Ecological Development Association, available at: https://www.inseda.org/ ( last visited on 19 December, 2020).
- Centre For Environment and Energy Development, available at: http://ceedindia.org/ (last visited 19 December, 2020).
BY PRAKAMYA MAHESHWARI | LLOYD LAW COLLEGE, GREATER NOIDA