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Growing Environmental Law In The Eyes Of Sustainable Development

With the onset of 21st century raises slowly and steadily some major contention with the development is to protect the environment. As both the development of the economic resources or human life and the management of environmental resources are interdependent and none of them is inescapable, development is ineluctable as it furnish the meets and needs of all the people which is envisaged by the constitution itself.

The second puts the obligation on the shoulders of the present generation to sustain focus on necessitates for all the times. Combining these principles is governing the legal policy of the environmental law today. The harmonious concerns about the two gives us the concept of sustainable development.

The term sustainable development is first coined in Stockholm declaration of 1972, further the term was with time got evolved and defined as:
Improving the quality of human life while the carrying capacity of supporting ecosystem in the caring for the earth document, then the word ecosystem is replaced by human-centric approach by establishing the connection in economic social and environmental issues in Brundtland Report. The step towards this human-centric approach lead us giving three fundamental objectives in the Canadian workshop, 1990, these are:
  1. An economic objective wherein the production of goods and services. The overriding criterion in fulfilling this objective is efficiency.
  2. An environmental objective wherein, the conservation and prudent management of natural resources. There by overriding criterion was the preservation and maintenance of biological integrity.
  3. Social objective wherein, the maintenance and enhancement of the quality of life. Equity is the main consideration in meeting this objective.[1]

The emphasis was placed on using the renewable resources in a way that the usage does not diminish the scope for upcoming generations. It is well known that the sustainable development also include speedy transformation of the technological base in way it later help in reducing dependence on natural resource. Rio declaration goes on further thereby was able to emphasis on social environment over the physical environment.

The objectives of the Rio declaration bring world power together for making the equilibrated society. But as seen from the above the rules laid down for the sustainable development is one way or other puts a negative Right on the sovereign to obligate the development which makes international community a little less strenuous because then it will restrict:
  1. Right of sovereign over natural resource and
  2. Right to develop.

Nevertheless, the traces which provide these rights to sovereign or to human can be seen into international law like in united nation declaration and in both Stockholm and Rio declaration. Stockholm and Rio declaration are liberal in the sense that they also takes about the quality of life to the extent that they also meet development and environmental needs of present and future generation.

It is only in the resent times UNCED recognize the integration relationship and separate the two objective clearly which is also accepted as a core principle of sustainable development worldwide, further international institute of sustainable development [2]defines Sustainable development as a development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs[3].

A compromise have been made by the developing countries which is yet to eradicate poverty and developed countries between the right to develop and to promote sustainable development. But with the later development and scholarly writing it can be mapped that maintaining ecological integrity have given pre-eminence over the others namely, fulfilling human necessity or social equity, this can be seen in constant capital stock theory which says sustainability requires sagacious power relationship therefore a reconsideration of cultural values are prerequisites. It was said that appropriate philosophy is desideratum rather than changes in technology.

On the other hand development priorities in developing countries are considered as no escapable, countries like India by the virtue of constitution promise egalitarian social order which consists of equality, liberty, dignity and socio-economic justice for all the section of society. The peremptory need is unquestionably the socio-economic development; eradicate poverty, also the threshold with comparison with the developed countries is more, but even though sustainable development must be infused with the development.

For example abandonment of hydroelectric power plant can be assertive in diminishing carbon monoxide and other harmful products, which essentially will lead to prevent green house effect. The same can be replaced with the more sustainable energy producing power projects like a solar or a biomass electric generating plants.

Environment concerns are also looked up by the India's Supreme Court, they have placed Right to clean environment and wholesome environment under the umbrella of Article 21 of the constitution, the supreme court is also in the view that development and environmental protection is a long term goal of societal welfare and progress, no government or human can achieve one by abandoning other.

The doctrine of sustainable development in India was introduced by the case of Vellore Citizen Welfare Forum v. Union of India. Wherein it was ruled that precautionary principle and polluter pays principle are the basis of sustainability. The Supreme Court was also stuck with these two variegated principles as seen in the Indian council for environ-legal Action v. Union of India case wherein the court held that development cannot take place at the cost of environmental degradation and at the same time ecology and environment cannot shall not hamper in the development.[4]

Both should go simultaneously. There are several issue arose in front of the apex court over time, let us look at some of the issues; in Narmada bachao andolan where a writ petition was filed to challenge public policy, the write petition was set aside on the reason that the massive amount has already be spent on the said project and also the more of the project has undertaken.[5]

Now, as of this the question arose can environment norms be override by people in the name of development or what is the threshold where we can say no to the development?  , answer to this is given in the case of Himachal Pradesh v Ganesh wood products wherein Khair trees is used to make products it was held that the deforestation of khair trees would have long lasting effect on the environment and the present generation has no right to deplete the forest cover and leave nothing for the upcoming generations. The court here considers all the damage which are irreplaceable or which cause any imbalance in the ecology as will be a threat to the next generation[6].

Environment exploitation also cause threat to the inhabitant living in that ecology, many examples are taken in the Rural litigation and entitlement Kendra v. state of Uttar Pradesh, where people engaged in the lime stone quarrying are uprooted[7], the major drift happen in the case of Banawasi seva Ashram v. state of Uttar Pradesh wherein court only allows the certification for NTPC after tribal people have give appropriate facilities approved by the court itself.

So, by this court also took in consideration rights of tribal people who lived generations in the forest[8], all the cases here is a example of overall development, there was no fix criteria for the upcoming cases, the only view that is taken is; poverty is the main cause of degradation of environment the development in the environment will make people educated and prosper making new door open for opportunities which is the way towards life with dignity.

The term sustainable development is a very dynamic, its meaning changes for the developed and the developing countries, with time it is seen that the two principles that are economic development and the environment protection cannot be achieved by just working on one. It is seen as pointed out in the brutland Report that sustainable development has four dimensions: society, economy, culture and environment which are inseparable.

The article takes about both sustainability and sustainable development. Where in sustainability is thought of as a long term goal (that is more and more sustainable world). And sustainable development is a process or pathways to achieve sustainability.

Indian courts have consider both sustainability and sustainable development by envisaging the view of future generation and means to achieve the case of Banawasi seva Ashram v. state of Uttar Pradesh is the example of sustainable development as they help the tribal people to rehabilitation.

Where in a different approach is taken in Narmada bachao andolan that due to massive construction and the large amount of public money that has already undertaken, the judgment in these cases is somewhat satisfactory in the sense to provide greater good.

But when the things come to an individual I would say things get little wobby as many a times it is seen that court took a stricter view like in the case where if project is build upon then a specific species of the snail would get endangered, the court in that case ruled that this snail has no biological importance nor it help anywhere in the biological cycle, therefore the court allow the project to built upon that land.

In my view every specie has a right to live on the planet; also sometime natural resources are destroyed without any important lead[9] an example of this is also seen in the recent Buxwaha mining case where 300 hectare of land is mined by the private player for economic development, for this localities say that despite continuous mining operations in this region, nothing has changed for them.

The area is still riddled with starvation and poverty. Those that live near forest lands are reliant on them. Furthermore, mining activity in the area could exacerbate the region's water shortages and environmental degradation.[10] so it is the need of hour to take into consideration both sustainable development and the use of resource by reducing human needs and leaving space and resource for the other living creature, further I would say there is the need of becoming environment superpower rather to exploit natural resources to a large extent.

It can be done by making soft laws like population controlling, as poverty is considered as the source of environment degradation, poverty can be control by controlling the growth of population, using the three R that is reduce, reuse and recycle using renewable energy and other such methods.

  1. Report on the Workshop on Sustainable Urban Development, the Human Settlement and Sustainable Development Committee accessed on 12/09/2021
  2. G´┐Żnther Handl, Declaration of the united nations conference on the human environment (stockholm declaration), 1972 and the rio declaration on environment and development, 1992, accessed on 11/09/2021
  3. IISC, international institute of sustainable development, accessed on 12/09/2021 < >
  4. 1996 AIR 1446
  5. 2000 INSC 518
  6. 1996 AIR 149
  7. 1985 AIR 652
  8. 1992 AIR 920
  9. ASI begins drilling for gold in UP village after godman dreams of buried treasure, accessed on 13/092021
  10. Down to earth, Buxwaha: Has India's government not learnt lessons from COVID-19? Accessed on 12/09/2021

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