- Legal Background
Provision in Constitution of India
ARTICLE 21 – Right to Life
PART IV – DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES OF STATE POLICY
42nd amendment in constitution in 1976 by Indian Parliament Article 48A. Protection and improvement of environment and safeguarding of forests and wild life The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wild life of the country
PART IV A – FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES
It shall be the duty of every citizen of India
(g) to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures;
In addition, many laws exist to protect the wildlife and health of human beings such as the 1972 Wildlife (Protection) Act, the 1986 The Environment (Protection) Rules , the 1991 The Public Liability Insurance Act and the 2004 Biological Diversity Rules and so many more.
- Legal interventions and landmark judgment
- Filed litigations in High court regarding local pollution issues and also for amendments in RTI rules
- Action for Implementation of Environmental Clearance by Shopping Malls in Ahmedabad, Gujarat
- Implementation of the Order of High Court for Alleviating Pollution from Kharikut Canal
- Creation of Eco- Development Fund : Legal intervention for the setting up of an Eco- Development Fund for betterment of communities living around & affected by the industries
- Right to Information Action Committee advocating for reforms in the Right to Information Act & taking steps in that direction
- Amendments in Right to Information Act by Gujarat High Court
- Clean Development Mechanism : Efforts to ensure transparency, accountability & monitoring system in the implementation of CDM projects in accordance with the norms of Kyoto protocol
- Movement for obtaining R&R Package from GMDC for the people facing displacement due to its lignite mining project at Bharuch District
- Organizing District-wise Environment Public Hearings Environment Impact Assessment Reports for Salaya- Mathura Pipeline Augmentation Project and set it up across the country.
Landmark judgment by Gujarat High Court – guidelines to strengthen the EPH process
With our experience in this field, we understood that there was a need to strengthen the hearings and increase people’s participation. We also filed a Special Civil Application No.8529/1999 against the Union of India in the Gujarat High Court. The landmark judgment delivered in March, 2000 dealt with the issue of public hearing in the environment project clearance. We felt Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was our last resort to get the law properly implemented. Indeed, we realized that the system or process of EPH was not implemented properly due to lack of proper guideline. This judgment substantially improved the system, giving access to more information to people on the venue of the hearings and giving them the right to read the Environment Impact Assessment report prior to the meeting.
In the judgment, it was directed that:
- The venue of the public hearing should be as near as possible to the site of the proposed project or to the affected village. Before that, it could be hard for people to attend the hearings as it could be too far from their home.
- A notice of the hearing has to be published in at least two newspaper widely circulated in the vernacular language of the locality concerned.
- Minutes of the public hearing has to be made available by the Gujarat Pollution Control Board on their website and the Environmental Clearance has to be published on their website.
After this the Government issued a directive and it became a provision that applies all over the country.