This Article on “Environment Laws & Famous Movements that you need to Know“; is written by Kashish Goyal. She is Content Writer & Legal Researcher at Legal Thirst.
The term “Environment” means water, air and land and the inter- relationship which exists among; and between water, air and land, and human beings, other living creatures, plants, micro-organism; and property Environment law basically means the laws and regulations, principles that deal with Protection of the environment. The main aim is to Conserve and manage the environment. It is the duty of the state to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country; and to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, wildlife, rivers and lakes or also to have compassion for living creatures.
Major Movements in India
This movement started in the year 1700 by Sage Sombaji against deforestation. A Place named Khejarli in the state of Rajasthan. One of the ladies named “Amrita Devi” wants to save the sacred trees in the village; which were being cut down by the King Soldiers for a palace. Amriti Devi protested with the Bishnoi Community against this; and during the protest 363 people from the bishnoi community were killed. When the King of this region came to know about the protest ordered to stop the protest; and declared the region as a protected area.
This movement was started in Chamoli district and later in District Tehri Garhwal in the year 1973. The main objective was to prevent the illegal cutting of trees and protect the trees in Uttarakhand. They hugged the trees and due to this, this is also known as Hug the tree movement.
Save Silent Valley Movement
It is an evergreen forest in Palakkad District in Kerala. The main aim was to protect the Silent Valley from the hydroelectricity project. The Indira Gandhi government declared that the valley will be protected and as a national reserve forest in 1985.
Jungle Bachao Andolan
This movement also called the name “Green Game Political Populism”. The Community of Singhbhum in Jharkhand protested against the policy of the government in 1982. According to the policy, the Government wanted to replace the natural soil and forests with the highly priced teak.
The word “Appiko” means expressing affection towards the tree. The main objective was conservation and proper utilization of forests or to promote afforestation on denuded lands.
Narmada Bachao Movement
Many environmentalists started to protest against the production of hydroelectricity that is known as Narmada Bachao Andolan. The objective of preservation of the environment and ecosystems of the valley.
Tehri Dam Conflict
A dam was constructed which according to the people causes submergence of the forest areas along with the tehri. This protest was mainly against the environmental consequence of the weak ecosystem
Environment Legislations in India
The Wildlife Protection act 1972
It was passed by Indian Parliament with the objective of protection of Animals and Plants that are not domesticated or protection of India’s Wildlife both territorial and aquatic also including Habitants. This Act prohibits hunting of animals except with permission of authorized officers.
The Forest Conservation Act 1980
The main objectives behind this is protection and conservation of forest. This Act also restricts the use of forest land for non –forest purposes or to prevent the cutting down of natural grown trees.
The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution )Act , 1981
This Acts provides for tackle the pollution by prohibiting the use of polluting Substances also provide for prevention and abatement of air pollution.
The Water (Prevention and Control of pollution) Act, 1974
This Act prohibits the discharge of pollutants into water beyond the standard fixed or to maintain the wholesomeness of water in the country.
The Environment Protection Act 1986
The main aim is to improve and protect the environment. The Central government is also empowered to take steps or to fix the standards for emissions.
Hazardous Waste Management Regulations
There are many rules made for the proper disposal of waste and management of hazardous waste. It also ensured proper waste management so that it does not affect human health in any way. The environmental laws ensure proper disposal technique.
Landmark & Important Judgements
Indian Council for Enviro – Legal Action v. Union of India (1996) 3 SCC 212
In this case, some of the industries were producing chemicals like Oleum and Sludge Phosphate which caused damages to nearby villages. The Supreme Court held that they are responsible for the damages on the principle of Polluter Pays i.e. the responsibility for repairing damages.
M.C. Mehta v. Kamalnath (1996)
The Court held that the forest land which is leased in this case is situated at Bank of River Beas, This area is fragile which should not be converted into private ownership .The Court quashed the lease and order to pay the compensation for restitution of environmental and ecology of the area
M.C. Mehta v. Union of India (1988)
The Court highlighted the various provisions of the Water and Air Act and of Indian Constitution. There were no effective steps were taken to prevent the discharge of effluents into Ganga river . (Ganga Pollution Case).
Subhash Kumar vs. State of Bihar (1991)
The Apex Court held that Right to get pollution free water and air is a right under article 21. Public Health and Ecology were held to be priorities under the Article 21 of Indian Constitution.
Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum v. Union of India , AIR (1996) SC 2715 : (1996) 5 SCC 647
In this another judgment of Supreme Court; The River Palar which was the main source for drinking and bathing for the people nearby. A petition was filed against the pollution caused to the river due to the discharge of effluents by the industries in Tamil Nadu; in the form of Public Interest litigation under Article 32 of Indian constitution. This is the judgments in which the Court analysed the relationship between environment and development.
Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra Dehradun & Ors. Vs. State of UP & Ors., 1985 AIR 652 , 1985 SCR (3) 169
The activity of quarrying was carried out in Mussoorie hills. Due to lack of vegetation, landslides occurred which damaged the villager’s home, cattle and agricultural land. After this, the Supreme Court held that pollution is caused by quarrying which affects the health and safety of the people. Also held Right to wholesome environment is guaranteed under Article 21 of Indian Constitution.
Municipal Council, Ratlam vs. Shri Vardhihand and Others, 1980 AIR 1622, 1981 SCR (1) 97
The residents of the municipality of the Ratlam in state of Madhya Pradesh; filed a complaint against the pollution caused by alcohol plant or the area is not constructing proper drains; and also stench or sink caused by slum dwellers. The Supreme Court ordered to provide water supply and held that pollution free environment is an integral part of Right to life under Article 21 of Indian constitution.
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