Environmental law is an increasingly important and complex area of law that deals with the protection and preservation of the natural environment. It encompasses various legal and regulatory issues, including air and water quality, waste management, endangered species protection, and climate change. Over the years, environmental law has evolved and become more complex as societies have become more aware of the importance of protecting the environment. Governments around the world have enacted laws and regulations to address environmental concerns and promote sustainable development.
In this newsletter, we will explore the latest developments in environmental law and the legal tools available to protect the environment. We will cover key topics such as international agreements and their implementation, regulatory frameworks, and the role of the judiciary in environmental law. We will also highlight important cases and legal precedents that have shaped the field of environmental law.
Whether you are a law student, legal professional, or simply interested in environmental law, this newsletter will provide you with a wealth of knowledge and information. Our aim is to provide insights into the legal framework for environmental protection and to raise awareness of the importance of environmental law in promoting sustainable development. We hope you find our newsletter informative and engaging.
1. Forest Conservation Amendment Bill
The Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023 was introduced by the central government on 1st April 2023 to modify some provisions of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. The Bill recognizes that the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 poses new challenges related to ecological, social, and environmental developments, including climate change mitigation, achieving national Net Zero Emission targets by 2070, and maintaining or enhancing forest carbon stocks at both national and international levels.
The Bill notes that before the 1996 Supreme Court judgment in T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad vs. Union of India and others, the Forest (Conservation) Act applied only to notified forest lands, and non-forestry use was permitted in revenue forest areas through government permissions. However, after the judgment, the Act was extended to recorded forest areas, including those already used for non-forestry purposes, which caused confusion about its applicability to plantations on private and government non-forest lands. Thus, the Bill aims to clarify the Act’s applicability to different types of lands
Additionally, the Bill states that strategic and security-related projects of national importance, especially along international border areas such as Line of Actual Control, Line of Control, and Left Wing Extremism affected areas, need to be fast-tracked to ensure the development of vital security infrastructures. Similarly, small establishments and habitations alongside public roads and railways should be facilitated by providing them access and connectivity to main arterial roads and other public utilities.
2. Indian Supreme Court forms a committee for overseeing the import and transfer of wild animals
The case of Muruly MS v State of Karnataka | SLP (C) No. 12246 of 2022 led the Supreme Court to expand the authority of a High Powered Committee formed by the High Court of Tripura for the transfer or import of wild animals throughout India. Justice Krishna Murari and Justice A Amanullah were the judges who issued the ruling.
3. NGT sets up a committee to control air pollution around AIIMS in Delhi
The National Green Tribunal’s principal bench, headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, has formed a seven-member committee to investigate the failure of authorities in controlling air pollution around AIIMS in New Delhi. The committee was formed in response to an application submitted by Gaurav Sharma alleging that hawkers, shopkeepers, and vehicles are contributing to pollution and hindering ambulance movement. The applicant also claimed that there is a lack of greenery and insufficient waste management.
The committee will make recommendations to address the situation and report to the Tribunal within a month. The Director of AIIMS or their nominee, along with the Member Secretary of DPCC, will serve as the nodal agency for coordination and compliance.
4. NGT Calls For Remedial Measures To Control Hindon River Pollution
In the case of Abhisht Kusum Gupta v. State of Uttar Pradesh & Ors., an application was filed raising concerns about the pollution of the Hindon River due to unregulated waste dumping and the failure of authorities to address the issue. The river is an important source of water for residential, agricultural, and industrial purposes in seven districts. Despite an “Action Plan” by UP authorities, no significant action has been taken on the ground level to address the issue. A joint committee submitted a report stating that polluting industries are discharging their effluent into the river and sewage treatment plants are inadequate. In response, the NGT directed a joint committee to take remedial action for controlling the pollution of Hindon, involving compensation for past violations and prosecution of polluting industries.
5. NGT Imposes Rs.50 crore Penalty on Irrigation Department of Karnataka for Dredging and Desilting Dams without Environmental Clearance
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has imposed a penalty of Rs.50 crore on the Irrigation Department of Karnataka for dredging and desilting Adhyapadi and Shamburu dams without obtaining prior Environmental Clearance.
The desilting work order was issued by the District Sand Monitoring Committee to Karnataka State Mineral Corporation Ltd. (KSMCL) for extracting 14,51,680 MT of sand from the backwaters of Adhyapadi Dam on Phalguni River in Mangaluru Taluka and Shamburu Dam on Nethravathi River in Bantwal Taluka, both located in the Dakshin Kannada District of Karnataka.
The applicant, Sarvabhoum Bagali, contended that the work order violated the EIA Notification of 2006, which prohibits dredging and desilting of dams without obtaining prior Environmental Clearance for commercial sand mining. The respondent, the Department of Mines and Geology, Bengaluru, argued that the dredging and de-silting were done only for maintenance, upkeep, and disaster management-related purposes.
After hearing both sides, the NGT found that Environmental Clearance is mandatory for the desilting of dams when extraction of sand for commercial use is envisaged as per EIA Notification, 2006. The Tribunal found that the desilting was done not only for the upkeep and maintenance of the dams but also to extract sand from the silt to be sold at a rate fixed by the government, which is an admitted commercial activity.
In addition to the penalty, the NGT ordered the Irrigation Department to pay the amount to the Central Pollution Control Board, which will be used for pollution abatement in river stretches with priority to stretches in and around Bengaluru. The case title is Sarvabhoum Bagali v. State of Karnataka and others, and the original application number is 142 of 2022 (SZ).
5 LEGAL PRECEDENTS YOU SHOULD KNOW RELATED TO ENVIRONMENTAL LAW :
Vedanta Limited vs. State of Orissa (2013)
This case was related to a bauxite mining project in the Niyamgiri Hills of Orissa.
MC Mehta vs. Union of India (2018)
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to publish a “National Clean Air Programme” to control and reduce air pollution in the country.
National Green Tribunal vs. Union of India (2019)
This case established the principle of “custodial violence” as a violation of human rights.
Ganga Pollution Case (M.C. Mehta vs. Union of India) (2020)
No untreated sewage was discharged into the river and to take strict action against polluters.
Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History vs. Union of India (2021)
Tamil Nadu government to stop sand mining in the Ennore Creek area.