ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
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Posted by :
on | Oct 13,2012
Environment and our life are related to each other. Any degradation in the environment will also lead to problems in our health and general living conditions. So, it is imperative that for the benefit of our own well being, we save to the environment from any further degradation. If we keep cutting trees in the name of industrial development, build houses and malls where there were green lawns once upon a time, do not care for wild life and dig out our natural resources unscrupulously, what kind of world will we leave for the future generations? Environment includes our surroundings, that is, water, air, land, plants and wildlife.
Section-2(9) of Environment (protection) Act,1986 defines environment as ---- "Environment includes water, air, land and the inter-relationship which exists among and between water, air, land and human beings, other living creatures, plants, micro-organism and property.''
For a long time it has been thought that industrial revolution and technological advancement cannot go hand in hand with environmental development ---- that is to say, ''CONFLICT OF INTEREST''. However, on an optimistic note, it is not impossible if we take SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT as our guide. Sustainable development refers to adequate use of natural resources today without any wastage, such that there is enough left for our future generations.
Without sustainable development, climate change, global warming, depletion of ozone layer, acid rain, deforestation, air/water/noise pollution will take place. In M.C.Mehta vs. Union of India (Taj trapezium case), the Taj Mahal was protected from nearby industries by shifting them to the outskirts of the city and 'yellowing' of the Taj was prevented. The decision was taken by the court based on principles of sustainable development. In another case N.D.Dayal vs. Union of India, the court linked sustainable development with ''Right to life''. It noted that principles of sustainable development should be made an important part of our life under Article-21.
There are a number of environment related Acts in our country enacted solely for the protection of our environment like Indian Forest Act,1927, The Wildlife (protection) Act,1972, Water(prevention and control of pollution Act,1974, The Forest(conservation) Act,1980, The Air(prevention and control of pollution)Act,1981, The environment(protection) Act, 1986 etc.
The salient features of sustainable development are ----
1. INTER-GENERATIONAL EQUITY ---- It is the duty of the present generation to leave adequate natural resources for the future generation. As the Brundtland report says that the rate of depletion should take into account the criticality of the resource...... and the likelihood of substitute being available. In this report, sustainable development has been defined as that development which ''meets the need of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs.''
2. USE AND CONSERVATION OF RESOURCES.
3. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION.
4.PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE ---- Earlier, the concept of ''Assimilative capacity'' was recognised. It was believed that nature can absorb the ill-effects of pollution, deforestation etc. But later, ''precautionary principle'' came to the fore. This principle stresses on prevention and anticipation rather than cure. A good example is the Taj Trapezium case mentioned earlier.
5. POLLUTER PAYS PRINCIPLE ---- According to this principle, a polluter has absolute liability to give compensation to the victim apart from also giving the cost of restoring environmental degradation and restoring the damage done to the environment. For instance, in M.C.Mehta vs. Kamal Nath, Sapan Motels Pvt. Ltd. used bull-dozers to turn the course of Beas river in order to avoid floods in future and thereby save their motel. But following the ''polluter pays principle'', the court ordered for compensation and also restitution of the damage done. So, the polluter was punished.
The above furnished features make it evident that sustainable development is the best possible way to solve conflict of interest between development and environmental conservation. Today, there should be more reliance on renewable sources of energy, instead of non-renewable sources of energy for supplying energy requirements. Then we can have better economic growth while conserving the environment.
Emphasis should be given to preservation, utilisation, restoration and enhancement. Before setting up any industrial venture, the principle of sustainable development should be made an integral part of planning process. We should compensate for whatever we use from nature. For example, If we fell trees for the purpose of building a factory, we should plant equal number of trees elsewhere to maintain bio-diversity and ecological balance of that area.
Today, the principle of ''Absolute liability'' is followed which means ''no fault liability''. In the Oleum gas leak case, the Supreme Court observed that if any harm results due to hazardous activity carried out by enterprises, then such enterprises will be ''absolutely liable'' to give compensation for the harm caused and it should be no answer for them to say that they had taken all reasonable precautions and care and that the harm occurred without any negligence on their part.
We cannot remove darkness just by cursing it. We have to light the lamp of restraint, of environmental awareness and protection, and the darkness of environmental degradation will be gone. Let each one of us plant trees, keep the surroundings clean, stop using polythene, minimise our use of petrol and kerosene and help to conserve the environment for our own good. the industries and enterprises should follow various Acts and laws formulated for the protection of environment.