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Environmental Protection Laws And Sustainable Development In India: Analyzing The Effectiveness Of Environmental Laws And Policies

Environment is the most prestigious asset of the planet Earth, If we do not conserve the Environment with respective safeguards, It will soon lead us to a precarious situation. Numerous legislations are framed with respect to it but we must be focusing on the effectiveness of the environmental laws and policies and we must propose strategies for its sustainable development and conservation.

It is a basic human tendency to care about the encircling habitat and humans have an alluring approach to care for the environment. The environment entirely presents to the human race, A comfortable blanket of land, air, and water to sustain in. The elements present in the delightful environment are insensate mostly and have to be dependent to be cared for.

It is our accountability to manage and care for what the almighty has provided us with. Environment plays an essential role in healthy living and the existence of life on planet Earth. Earth is the abode for various living species and we are all dependent on the Mother Nature for food, air, water, and other needs. Therefore, it is integral for every individual to save and conserve our environment.

Environmental law is an integral part of any government agency. It includes a series of laws and regulations related to water quality, air quality, and other environmental aspects. The success of environmental legislation mainly depends on how they are implemented. Legislation is also a valuable tool to educate people about their responsibility to maintain a healthy environment. Environmental law in India is based on principles of environmental law and focuses on the management of certain natural resources such as minerals, forests, and fisheries.

Environmental law in India directly reflects the provisions of the Constitution. The need to protect and maintain the environment and make sustainable use of natural resources is reflected in India's constitutional framework and India's international obligations.

The Government effectively has proposed different legislations but at the end of the day, It is the humans who need to come forward to inculcate in their daily lives a longing to care for the environment. Humans need to come together as a whole and make sure that the legislations that are enacted are put to work because the environment is greatly affected by the deeds of the human race and is greatly at risk.

If we talk about climate change, India is now the world's third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the United States. India to its best ability has imposed laws to work for the efficacy of these laws. India spiritually and philosophically has imparted in its culture the protection of rivers.

As we are all aware of the fact that the most famous religion of India, Hinduism preaches love and devotion to rivers, Hindus efficiently pray to rivers and consider them as gods, But on the other hand Rivers are the most prone to become dumpy yards of trash after Indians celebrate certain festivals. Certain pure and pious rivers turn into a pungent amalgamation of garbage, which is most certainly not what India wants to represent in its sizeable heritage.

A lot of tourist attraction points greatly invite pilgrims from all over the world get to see the bad representation of sanitation in India. The Educated masses try to spread as much awareness as possible but things take time to be put in place.

Pollution is another turmoil in the long run that we need to save our future generations from. Sustainable measures are the need of the hour that will perpetually suffice the need for a cleaner environment. The mass Industrial development that has contributed to large commercial profits has largely emitted fumes of pollutants that have degraded the idiosyncrasy of the way of life.

The most beautiful asset of any country is all the humans working as a whole for different measures and contributing something or the other for a greater cause, Different agendas, slogans, and awareness programs are put in motion by the citizens of the country now and then which further encapsulates and promotes the idea of sustenance. Not abiding by Environmental laws should become penal in nature. Caring for the Environment has become vogueish and various conventions and treaties are being proposed in the same respect on the global forum.

Activists who devotionally talk about the conservation of the Environment are largely appreciated and lauded. The Ministry of Environment was established in India in 1980 to ensure a healthy environment in the country. Later, this became the Ministry of Environment and Forests in 1985. The Environmental Protection Act (EPA) of 1986 came into effect shortly after the Bhopal Gas tragedy and is considered protective legislation because it filled many gaps in existing legislation. CNG became a mandate in Delhi recently.

Central Arguments
Countries globally have now started to administer the fact that something immediately needs to be done to bring about awareness for the protection of the environment. The basic human right of a person is to live in a clean environment, Laws are somewhat a powerful measure to bring about a change but it also further needs a positive thumbs up from the masses.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) was set up in 1985 and is now the highest administrative body to oversee and safeguard environmental protection and establish a legal and regulatory framework for this purpose. Several environmental laws have been enacted since the 1970s.

The laws in India are not very strict; however, water and air pollution is a major problem as harmful substances are dumped into water bodies, and harmful emissions are largely unabated in India. The laws governing these activities have not been updated since they were first enacted in the mid-1970s and 1980s. These laws provide for water/groundwater use permits/permits, compliance with wastewater and discharge standards, and prohibition of polluting water resources.

There are several factors such as poor coordination among government agencies, weak institutional capacity, lack of access to proper information, corruption, and stifled civic engagement are key factors contributing to inefficiency and poor enforcement of environmental regulations.

We used to hardly care for the environment but now it has become mandatory to abide by environmental regulations. As India gained independence and our economy started growing, there was a need to enact legislations that were meant to protect the natural environment and its various components, be it air, water, forests, wildlife, biodiversity, etc. More importantly, since India had started becoming a signatory to various international environmental conventions, it was obligatory that we protected our environment back home.

It is pertinent to note that from time to time various amendments have been made to the environmental laws in line with the changing societal and business requirements. These regulations are not meant to be crumpled and become complicated but to have an easy holdover. Caring about the planet has become a mainstream thing and it is good that way. Countries like the USA have stringent applications of Environmental Laws.

India has largely been inspired by developed countries by their attributes of caring for nature through various regulations and measures. Environmental Laws are very integral to be preserved as they are a form of self-certification that comes with accountability that we provide ourselves with.

Those examining the effectiveness of India's environmental laws are often troubled by its "implementation curse". While the legislature has time and again promulgated laws and laid down extensive guidelines to ensure the protection of the environment from capitalistic exploitation. To further accentuate the regulations, measures should be adapted to provide for sustainable development for future generations.

A particular way of looking also contributes to what we infer from the safeguards that are being crafted. Many will say that Indian Government in its best capacity is inculcating measures to conserve the environment however, many will deter the fact that steps are not being taken at all, All depends on the amount of optimism and accountability people have. Environmental Laws have greatly developed from its prior state but it still is not enough. There are three main entities of Environmental Laws.

Water and air pollution is a major concern as dumping hazardous materials in water bodies, and hazardous emissions have been for the most part unmitigated in India. Laws regulating these activities haven't been updated since they were first formulated in the mid-1970s and 1980s.

These laws regulate water/groundwater use consents/permits, compliance with effluent and emission discharge standards, and prohibit pollution of water resources. Environmental Laws need immediate amendments and are needed to be catered to according to the new times.

As we already know that India being rich in nature and other cultural aspects has often been plundered of all its resources, often by colonies and rulers, Despite that India has strongly emerged as a cautious and conscious advocate for the need of proper regulations with respect to the Environment and has channelized to set an example on the global forum.

There are various important and notable Environmental activists in India who are unheard of because of the lack of representation of them globally. India being the cultural hub has contributed to many such environmentalists, Some are namely Vandana Shiva, Sunderlal Bahuguna, SugathaKumari, Sunita Narain and Jadav Payeng.

The thing that we need to learn from other countries is stricter implementations of Environmental Laws that are largely Penal and penalty-driven. India being the largest population of the world contributes to large emittance of waste.

The new committee has been drafting a new law to replace the 3 main existing Acts: Air, Water, and Environment Protection. And it's doing so under strict confidentiality � away from the public eye. The goal is to consolidate and streamline environmental laws to prevent overlaps and conflicts. Yet whatever new elements will be added are tightly under wraps.

Our Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi has during various events represented India globally for the climate projects for instance the 021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26). Even large companies with the help of branding have initiated to provide sustainable material in their products for instance paper straws that will further lessen the amount of non-demolishable garbage that is generated.

Environment policies of the Government of India includes legislations related to environment. In the Directive Principles of State Policy, Article 48(a) says "the state shall endeavor to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country"; Article 51-A states that "it shall be 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."

Notably, the government has passed various legislations to curb the damage caused to the environment such as the Environmental Protection Act, 1986, Forest Conservation Act, 1980, Water Prevention and Control of Pollution Act, 1974, Biological Diversity Act, 2002, Public Liability Insurance Act 1889 and National Green Tribunal Act, 2010.

According to Article 48 (A) of the Indian Constitution, the state shall try to protect and improve the environment. It should also endeavor to safeguard forests and wildlife of the country.

According to Article 51(A) (g) of the Indian Constitution, every citizen of India has a fundamental duty to protect and improve the natural environment including forest, lakes, rivers, and wildlife and should have compassion for living creatures.

The constitution of India is not an inert but a living document which evolves and grows with time. The specific provisions on environment protection in the constitution are also result of this evolving nature and growth potential of the fundamental law of the land. The preamble to our constitution ensures socialist pattern of the society and dignity of the individual.

Decent standard of living and pollution free environment is inherent in this. The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 defines environment as "environment includes water, air and land and the interrelationship which exists among and between air, water and land and human beings, other living creatures, plants, micro-organism and property.

Environment protection is part of our cultural values and traditions. In Atharvaveda, it has been said that "Man's paradise is on earth; this living world is the beloved place of all; It has the blessings of nature's bounties; live in a lovely spirit". Earth is our paradise and it is our duty to protect our paradise.

The constitution of India embodies the framework of protection and preservation of nature without which life cannot be enjoyed. The knowledge of constitutional provisions regarding environment protection is need of the day to bring greater public participation, environmental awareness, environmental education and sensitize the people to preserve ecology and environment.

Despite various attempts at preservation, India ranks at the bottom in a list of 180 countries in the 2022 Environmental Performance Index, India has scored so low with major critical issues. The Environmental Protection Index provides for accurate data and state of sustainability of different countries. EPI sets targets and receives outcomes, It aspires to come forward and to move towards a sustainable future.

"Overall EPI rankings indicate which countries are best addressing the environmental challenges that every nation faces. Going beyond the aggregate scores and drilling down into the data to analyse performance by issue category, policy objective, peer group, and country offers even greater value for policymakers. This granular view and comparative perspective can assist in understanding the determinants of environmental progress and in refining policy choices."

The EPI has been criticised for its arbitrary choice of metrics. Supporters of the index point out that there is nothing arbitrary in the choice of its key parameters of ecosystem vitality, health, and climate policy. Another facile argument used by policymakers is that environment and ecological security are a luxury and cannot be prioritised ahead of human development.

This argument is not only dated but dangerous. It starts with the deadly assumption that humans are separate from the environment. That, actually, is the root of the current problem. If development of the two had been considered on an equal footing it would have led to true sustainability.

The proof of the pudding lies in the eating and, in India's case, the proof of a deteriorating environment is there for all to see.

India conclusively ahead of its setback on the global platform with various parameters and developments should strive to get better with time and should raise the bar with respect to climate and environmental laws, Largely attempts are being made for the further development but it would not suffice in the long run, In some years, Some countries will prove to get largely ahead of India in terms of Environmental protection,

We cannot afford for India to be held back by any term. There is global competition with respect to awareness for the Environmental protection and in this game, everyone is trying hard to surpass the other so as to move ahead in terms of global figures because there is an urgent probable necessity for us to look into these matters as they shape our tomorrows. Written By: Devika Raj

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