Trending: Call for Papers Volume 4 | Issue 3: International Journal of Advanced Legal Research [ISSN: 2582-7340]

ENVIRONMENTAL LAW, POLICY AND ECONOMY by-Sakshi Saranya Rout & Amlan Panda


India, with growing pollution, keeps on pulling down the environment but our ecosystem can only grow and survive because of the environment. But rather than protecting and saving the environment man is not only putting its life at a risk but others as well. Inthelong run,nature must be safe and clean. But a good thing that natural gas in the US is acting as a great resource to fuel many schools, factories, homes, etc.

This particular paper draws attention to the need for conserving the environment and how an environmental law was brought up to make nature to preserve for a longer time. This paper has tried to become a voice for the upcoming future as well as for the present scenario.

The highlighting part of the paper talks about the various acts, schemes and steps taken by the government for the development and protection of the natural resources. Moreover, it is stating the various reasons that have become some of the major reasons for the demolition of the environment.

The conclusive part analyses various civil, criminal and constitutional remedies as well as the international development that is paving a way for the environment protection. Principle of sustainable development has been focused on and emphasised widely.

The sufferings will be on a long term period if minimum and adequate required steps are not taken and not emphasised.

Keywords: Environment, environmental law, nature, earth, pollution, etc.



Life is possible on Earth because of its resources and imagining life on earth without these resources is merely impossible. But with the rise of pollution these resources are on a verge of destruction. To make a better sustainable future it is necessary to start taking measure because the resources are limitedly provided by the earth.

The extent of harming nature by human beings is irreparable and unbearable. Conserving mother earth is not only the need of an hour but way much more than that. The world is slowly approaching towards the end as many varieties of birds and animals have already started extinction and some are on the edge of extinction.

Survival without these resources is scarier than anything else. Humans full of conscience knows its primary responsibility is to save and protect nature but rather becomes selfish and destroys all of it without thinking of the future.

The surrounding we live in is called the environment and the contamination of the environment by the pollutants is called environmental pollution. And the current stage the earth is dealing with has been the result of a thousand years of exploitation and destruction of earth and its resources. Man is termed to be the most vulnerable yet dangerous creature for playing such an important role in the degradation of nature. The environmental pollution has, directly and indirectly, affected not only human beings but also other varieties of species.

In 1972 after the Stockholm Conference, within the Department of Science and Technology, a regulatory body was established for looking after the environmental issues called the National Council for Environment Policy and Planning. Part IVA (Art 51A-Fundamental Duties) under the Constitution of India Act says that every Indian citizen must protect and improve the natural environment including lakes, wildlife, rivers, forests, and to have compassion for living creatures.

Hence, it is high time to utilise the resources at a minimum rate by being selfless and in its best way to protect the present without letting the future go in vain.


A wide range of enactments, legislations and provisions wholly concerned with the regulation of human activity connected with the natural environment and its various interconnected ecosystems comprises of Environmental Law.

In the greater ecosystem not only human rather different plants and animals are also protected by the environmental law and its various legislation. Environmental law addresses many central areas, listed below are some varieties-

  1. Water Quality Laws: These laws are concerned with the release of pollutants into different water bodies. They list the various pollutants which need to be treated before being released into different water bodies across the whole nation. Some of them are industrial waste, liquid waste from construction sites, agricultural waste, and raw sewage.
  1. Air Quality- Reducing Air Pollution: To maintain standard air quality many rules and regulations are enforced after determining the safest level of emission in terms of industrial emissions, motor vehicles and everyday usages.
  1. Waste Management: For minimizing and regulating the uncontrolled disposal of waste materials into the environment waste laws are designed or in the shorter form to minimize the biological or ecological harm. These laws regulate the transport, treatment, storage, and disposal of waste such as nuclear waste and hazardous waste.
  1. Chemical Safety: Use of chemicals in its safest way also falls under the ambit of environmental law; meaning the sale of various chemicals, ensuring legitimate licenses, correct storage of chemicals and using appropriate safety equipment. All of this eventually falls under the protection of the environment from poor/ill management.
  1. Damage Mitigation and Containment Cleanup:

Reducing existing damage and mitigating such oil spills and toxic leaks also terms to be an important part of preventing future damage from the environment. This branch deals with monitoring the cleanup process, planning an appropriate response, determining the best process for investigation and deciding liability.

  1. Resources’ Sustainability:

This form of law includes deforestation, excessive mining, prevention of overfishing, etc. Environmental impact assessment (EA) is a key tool for the management of the environment. EA’s main purpose is to ensure that when decision-makers proceed with a proposed project, they must consider the environmental impacts as well.


  1. Hazardous waste legislation: A variety of legislations like various rules and regulations under the Environmental Act, Factories Act, 1948, the National Environment Tribunal Act, 1955 and the Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991 regulate waste management and further the municipal solid waste rules of 2000 and the hazardous waste management rules of 2008have also backed them.
  1. Stockholm Conference (1972): Stockholm Conference known to be the first major environmental conference has set the framework for the importance of regulation and discussions on the environment. The 26 principles of Stockholm were also formulated at this conference and further, it marked the creation of the United Nations Environment Programme.
  1. The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010: For effective and speedy disposal of forest protection and environment cases, the well-known NGT or the National Green Tribunalwas established through this act for the first time. In recent times it is probably one of the most important pieces of environmental legislation.
  1. Vienna Convention: The conventionwas established to preserve and protect the ozone layer by ensuring more and more effective measures are taken.
  1. Ramsar convention (1971): This convention was initiated for sustainable use of wetlands and to push for greater conservation.
  1. The Water Prevention and Control of Pollution Act, 1974: The Water Prevention and Control of Pollution Act, 1974 was enacted to provide a legal framework for restoring quality water for the nation and for preventing and controlling water pollution.
  1. The Air Prevention and Control of Pollution Act, 1981: The Air Prevention and Control of Pollution Act, 1981 was initiated for setting up of boards for implementing the law sincerely atthe state and Centre level and also provides for the reduction, control and prevention of air pollution.

To make a better future it is high time to conserve planet earth by protecting earth or by promoting diversity and preserving wildlife. It is essential to maintain a healthy environment as the earth is an ecosystem of varieties of species. So, destroying natural habitat will result in the extinction of species and which will eventually result in scarcity of food and water. With the utmost concern for the promotion of a better future and an ecosystem, it is necessary to preserve species and promote wildlife. To survive it is necessary to preserve the nature.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate change executed sub-schemes of conservation of Natural Resources and Ecosystems, Green India Mission, the National River Conservation Programme, and National Mission on Himalayan Studies, National Afforestation Programme, National Coastal Management Programme under the Central Sector and sponsored by Central Schemes of Government of India. Nevertheless, all of these schemes have played an important role in the development of the ecosystem and conserving the environment.

To protect the wildlife and birds the Indian Government passed an important act called the Wildlife Act, 1972. In 1976, the control of animal life was transferred from the State list to Concurrent list and eventually Centre gained power for making legislations.

All varieties of forests like protected forests, reserve forests, etc fall under the ambit of Forest Conservation Act, 1980 that extends to the whole of the nation except J&K. The act encourages afforestation and eliminates deforestation.

For any survey or exploration of natural parks or wildlife sanctuaries without prior approvals from the Central Government falls the Amended Forest Act, 1992 or in short the act allows the non-forestry activities with the approval of the Central Government. So, cultivation of coffee, tea, rubber, spices, palms, etc are not allied in the forest lands and are prohibited because they are non-forestry activities.

In the year 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took an initiative of waste management under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan that aims at the cleanliness of the environment by creating a sense of responsibility amongst the citizens of India and to achieve the ultimate goal of Mahatma Gandhi i.e., clean India.

The National Wetland Conservation Programme initiated by the government of India aimed at preventing wetlands from degradation and conserve them by utilizing acutely.

Nagar Van Udyan Scheme’s vision was to create awareness about biodiversity and plant, have 200 city forests in India and educate people about conservation of earth unaware of the damages that might take place due to their irresponsibility and ignorance.

In the year 1973, Project Tiger was implemented to increase the number of tigers in the country and has been one of the most successful environmental projects.

Green Skill Development launched in the year 2017 by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate that includes protecting and conserving the green nature by creating awareness among the youths to gain experience and develop skills.


India is known for its largest democracy and having the biggest emerging economies. It also pays more attention to the individuals who are mostly in poverty stage. They experienced a rush of environmental Justice Movements to make themselves a part of societies and the ecosystem. India’s Judiciary has taken major steps in environmental claims. Mainly because of the legislative provisions that are Article 21 of the Indian Constitution (Right to Life), Article 48-A (4) of the Directive Principle of State Policies and Article 51-A (g) that is fundamental duties of every Citizen of India.


In many deciding casesthe Supreme Court of India has tried to maintain a proper balance between growth, equity and sustainability. In the Bhopal Gas Tragedy (1984) Case, the Supreme Court held that “the issue relating to environment must and shall receive highest priority from the Court”. In Subhash Kumar Vs State of Bihar,2the Supreme Court held that“Right to Life is a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution which includes right to enjoy pollution-free water and air for full enjoyment of life”. This landmark interpretation by the Supreme Court set an example for the expansion of rights-based approaches to challenging environmental impacts of growth.

The issues with current environmental regulations need to be resolved. Both of which would eventually lead to long-standing illegalities. We should consider the social and environmental implications that are real. With changing times there is a need to meet modern times. At present, the essential feature of the decision-making process is that it includes the scope and mechanism. All these will increase the awareness and strategic steps that will enhance the environmental laws and regulations that are prevalent. The biggest challenge lies in recognizing the need to evaluate changes in the current regulations and precedent. Based on the flaws and holes, there should be proper amendments and changes to make the law flawless. This would make the task of filling the holes in the laws of the environment simpler. The enforcement of environmental legislation should be measured according to the time expended on judgments. Effective outcomes must be given. Decisions should be easily and speedily disposed of. A proper mechanism to ensure a quicker trail is required. All sides involved in the conflicts would benefit from this. In doing so, environmental professionals and consultants need assistance and guidance. With guidance, changes and proposals to facilitate environmental issues in the context of law and order are necessary to devise and ensure. This goal would be accomplished by proper engagement and a fast distribution mechanism assisted by approvals.

In updating India’s major environmental legislation, the High-Level Committee (headed by

T.S.R Subramanian) consisting of the India Ministry for Environment, Forest and Climate Change recommended that technology ensure better openness, transparency and a fast-track system. The government has to move on to the proper operation of various environmental commissions and bodies. Everywhere there is no governing authority to investigate unaddressed problems; the authorities have a responsibility to ensure that those conditions are met by a new body. The problem of the environment needs close observation. The government needs infrastructure and strategic plans to resolve this issue rapidly.


The only cause of our livelihood is the world surrounding us. We live if we survive in the environment. In his relationship with nature, the natural inclination of man is to take without giving and without replenishing. This adds to many challenges for our own and our ancestors, not just for our flora and fauna. The rampant environmental pollution can only be slowed down on our effort and insistence. That is why we have legislation aimed at protecting the environment.

The need to protect and conserve the environment is not only stated in the Indian Constitution. Unique laws and regulations deal with critical civic problems are set down. Any such regulations will be discussed below. While some acts were restricting the use of forests and the contamination of the water and air, the new Indian environmental legislation was developed in 1984 in response to the disaster of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy.

A regulation, legislative and administrative framework was to be put in place in India to ensure that environmental violations are remediated, and the polluter countries’ concept and administrative monitoring is enforced so that industrial accidents such as the Bhopal Gas Tragedy do not occur again. Instead, the environmental law was passed in 1986.


The Bhopal Gas Disaster is the worst industrial tragedy in the world. On the night of 2-3 December 1984, there was a leak in methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas and other plant substances, which resulted in the exposure of several thousand people at Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.

A total of 3,787 deaths from the gas leak have been reported by the Government of Madhya Pradesh. But there are even more unofficial fatalities in other papers. Gas symptoms can be observed, in genetic defects and physical and emotional disorders, right now in the families of centuries after the occurrence.

Because of the weak environmental laws and the poor state of compliance with current laws, the accused of the Bhopal crime have been sentenced to negligible imprisonment, and in some cases, none and many are discharged.


The 1986 Environment (Protection) Act was passed in a late reaction to the tragedy and a statutory, regulatory and administrative system in India was then to be set up, ensuring that environmental breaches have been rectified.

It guarantees that its provisions and legislation do not comply with any other law and grants the Central Government considerable power to make laws in compliance with the Act. The Act seeks to control environmental emissions. For this reason, it does no more than the specified requirements for pollution or discharges of environmental contaminants.

In compliance with the Environment Protection Act, hazardous waste management regulations are notified to govern how waste is disposed and handled to avoid emissions, environmental degradation and essential infrastructure.

This legislation controls a wide variety of practices, including the list of harmful products forbidden from importing and exporting as well as the registry of environmentally hazardous material recycling equipment.

The India Convention on Hazardous Wastes is a Party to the Basel Convention. The Basel Convention’s key objectives shall be to track and reduce trans-boundary traffic, to discourage or decrease their generation and to vigorously encourage the conversion and usage of more cleaner technologies, of dangerous and other waste which are subject of the Convention.

Natural conservation is not solely directed at maintaining environmental features for future use. For its own sake, there is an apparent need to conserve and safeguard the environment. We are seeking to protect it by way of a couple of other bills.


The 1980 Forest Conservation Act helps to conserve forests in the country. Without prior approval from the Central Government, it restricts and regulates the deforestation or the use of forest land for non-forest purposes. Non-forestry purposes of this Act include tea or coffee plantations, clearing of forests and excluding reforestation and conservation. The Indian Forest Act of 1927 consolidates the law on forests, forest transit and the duty levied on wood and other wood production.


In compliance with the Wildlife Conservation Act, wild animals, birds and plants are covered, although the specific forms of protection found in the six schedules are protected. Security is given against harmful and exploitative practices such as hunting, taxidermy and the collection as a representation or trophy of pieces of animals or birds.

The maximum fines are levied by Schedule I and Part II of Schedule II to ensure full security. There is also protection for the species mentioned in Schedule IV, although there are far lower fines.


The Air Act and the Water Act, respectively, have common clauses in the area of rights and redress to avoid air and water pollution. The law provides for the numerous administrative authorizations for various sectors and also aims to enforce a cess. A cess is a form of tax imposed for a specific reason.


While no statute allows for or does not resolve a specific complaint, there is a lot to be done by the judiciary where the object of the conduct is authentic and genuine.

Listed below are various remedies where these instruments of justice have been initiated or implemented.


The principle of polluter pays relies on equities and simply ensures that everyone who pollutes or participates in practices which cause pollution must bear the costs of avoiding or remediating pollution. This is the principle of polluter pays.

The theory behind this calculation is the Coase (after Ronald Coase) economics, which explains how important it is to quantify an enterprise’s environmental costs and to include them in its overall spending, known as the internalization approach. Any businesses plan to outsource expenses and impose the responsibility on society as a whole, which raises social costs.

The theory of polluter pays as understood by the Court means that the absolute responsibility for environmental harm applies to compensate both the victims of contamination as well as the costs for repairing environmental destruction. The polluter is also responsible for covering the damages and costs for reverting the destroyed ecosystem to the human sufferers.


The precautionary principle specifies that, in the absence of scientific consent that the acts or policies are dangerous, the presumption of proof that they are not harmful falls on the people taking certain steps where an action or policy is accused of damaging the public or the environment. It means that it is the duty of the individual intending to take the action to take all steps and to test if the action is damaging to the community.

One of the essential actions taken to satisfy the precautionary principle provisions is to perform environmental risk analyses and receive a no-objection certificate.


The Indian Constitution allowed the Supreme Court and the High Courts to send orders in writs, for example in the case of a mandamus, habeas corpus, certiorari, prohibition and quo warranto. In general in environmental matters, the writs for mandamus, certiorari and prohibition are seen as an easier and hence safer solution.

Another value of the writes is that the Supreme Court will be reached immediately and the lengthy review process cannot be prevented. Writs are filed where then a single form of remedy is sought by the State. The writ of mandamus is an order to be performed, which you would have investigated so that the Supreme Court could order the body involved to conduct a special act.


Public interest Litigation allows for civil action against, or prosecution against, a group of individuals or the government who cannot, regardless of their capacity, poverty or lack of law, maintain their constitutional rights. However, litigation in the public interest cannot be used to fulfil personal insurrection or animosity. The prosecutions under Article 32 in the context of public interest cannot be applied to guarantee personal interest.


In compliance with several international conventions and agreements on environmental issues, India has commitments. As a Negotiating Entity, India must have ratified or acceded to a treaty, i.e. by ratification as a national rule before it comes into effect. The required number of countries must ratify the Treaty, which would then have the force of international law, for a treaty to come into force.

In general, foreign organizations are not responsible for the application and regulation of international environmental laws but also have significant oversight, intelligence and diplomatic functions.

For example, the Biodiversity Convention of 1992 established a new international entity, a Committee on Sustainable Development (CSD). The CSD is unable to take legal measures either against states or private parties but plays a role in enforcing the Biodiversity Convention. The CSD does not have the authority to enact the Convention on the Conservation of Biodiversity.

The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the Framework Convention on Climate Change of the United Nations (UNFCCC), the Convention on Biodiversity, the Protocol of Montreal etc. are core components of India’s international agreements and treaties to conserve and defend our natural environment.


In some world summits that were held to address the situation of environmental destruction around the world the idea of sustainable development was evolved.

In the first case, the definition was created to integrate biological, economical and policy elements into the legislation. Sustainable growth is a development that addresses the needs of today, without jeopardizing future generations’ potential to fulfil their own needs. There are two main principles inside it:

  • The definition of “needs,” in particular the basic needs of the poor in the world, which should be given priority; and
  • The notion of constraints on the environment’s capacity to fulfil existing and potential demands raised by the existing state of technology and social “

A person’s right to the atmosphere protected from pollution belongs to the universal case law of the territory. The basic right to life and personal freedom is secured in Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The Supreme Court has interpreted the right to life and personal rights as the right to a safe and clean environment. 3The Court of Justice held by its separate judgments4 that the right to life mandate requires the right to clean air, drinking water and free of pollution.

The definition of environmental case-law in India using the PIL was brought back by Mr M.C Mehta[13]5. Others have had their quiet yet remarkable playing parts. Any of the most important evaluations that have a decent share in the growth of environmental case law in India are:

  • NarmmadaBachao VS Union Of India6

In 1946, to achieve the objective of the National Waterways, the Irrigation and Navigation Board, then the government of the Central Provinces and Berar and then the government of Bombay, conducted an inquiry into the Narmada River system for the wise growth, irrigation, power and extension of waterway in a wise basin. In 1968, the case was appealed to a court and created under the Inter-State Water Disputes Act of 1956. The tribunal proclaimed award on 16 August 1978, based on consensus between the four Chief Ministers of [M.P, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat]. Consultations with the World Bank for the securing of a loan began in 1978 to satisfy the financial criteria. In May 1985 the loan was authorised and in 1987 environmental approval was given under some terms by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

The Supreme Court acknowledged the positive influence of the SardarSarovar Project on environmental protection. The citizens of Gujarat, of whom the drought-friendly and dry regions would obtain water, have long been anticipated, helping effectively to stop the ecological degeneration which has rendered them habitable due to the introduction of salt, the advance of the desert, scarcity of groundwater, fluoride and nitrite, and a disappearing green environment. The ecosystem of water shortage areas is under threat, and Narmada water can be transferred into these areas, resulting in sustainable farming and green coverage.

Food supply will also be increased and the stresses on habitats and vegetation will be minimized. The SSP would save the air pollution that would otherwise occur via thermal generation of a comparable capacity by generating clean and environmentally sustainable hydropower. The Court considered it unworthy to engage with the development of the dam after the review because of its benefits over its drawbacks. In some terms, the building of the dam was approved.In the years, the Supreme Court’s interpretations of Article 21 have been the basis of environmental jurisprudence and have become critical in helping to safeguard the environment of India. There are also a variety of regulations on the climate that have been enacted in recent decades.


In Taj Mahal’s case, the Supreme Court ordered a transition to the natural gas or a relocation beyond the TTZ for coal and coke factories located in Taj Trapezium (TTZ), which had harmed the Taj. The Court acknowledged that environmental improvements are the unavoidable results of our country’s economic growth, but that at the same time environmental quality cannot be allowed to suffer from polluting the air, water and land to such a degree that they pose a health danger to the local people. The Court shows that every person has the right to fresh air, to live in a pollution-free atmosphere and has shown tremendous respect for the environment.


A host of judgments and orders against the polluting industry in the Ganga basin were passed by the Supreme Court of India responding to public interest litigations. As a result, millions of residents in Ganga Basin covering eight states of India were spared from the effects of air and water pollution. 8


The irony is that the family members of Kamal Nath, the Minister for Environment and the Forestry of GOVT of India, have been taken under public interest litigation. The Minister’s family members have a Spanish motel in the Himachal Pradesh Province. The course of River Beas was committed to improving the motel. The Supreme Court of India had ordered the Motel owners to hand over their forest land to the Govt of Himachal Pradesh and ordered the removal from their pockets of all kinds of encroachment spending the capital.9

In M.C.Mehta Vs Union Of India, AIR1987 SC 1086 ( Oleum Gas Leak Case) In compliance with Article 21 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court found the freedom to live in a pollution-free atmosphere to be a constitutional right to life. The Supreme Court found the corporation specifically and responsible for liability for all those who are harmed by the accident where an organization is engaged in an unsafe or potentially risky practice and harmful incidents for anyone in the process of such a hazardous and inherently highly dangerous activities culminating in the escape of toxic gas. This loss is to be paid for by the company, and it cannot be answered that the company has taken proper care and that the damage has happened on its part without fault. Total accountability is a mistake in which it is not possible to establish fault. It is not accountable. It is no fault liability.10

Further, the A.P. High Court in T. Damodar Rao vs. S.O., Municipal Corporation, Hyderabad, (AIR 1987 A.P. 171) It was particularly claimed that the right to live in a safe atmosphere is part of Article 21 of the Constitution.


In India the concern for the protection of the environment has not only come to be known as a constitutional right of the country but also as an approach for human rights and it has now well become clear that every individual has a basic human right to live with complete human dignity in a pollution-free environment. We ought to make sure that the general elected, public bodies, the state and central institutions are aware of the harm to the living atmosphere which our construction process has done.

It is crucial to cultivate a sense of civic awareness and public sanitation through the usage of city facilities such as bridges, public sites, and drains etc for the success of local government environmental legislation. There is also a requirement for effective implementation of the law requirements. Law is an effective instrument that pressures the public to cooperate with cleanliness and thereby to fight pollution. In the current sense, environmental conservation laws in India require new guidelines.

As Paul Bigelow Sears has written, “How far must suffering and misery go before we see that even in the day of vast cities and powerful machines, the good earth is our mother and that if we destroy her, we destroy ourselves.”

1 Students at Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology, Bhubaneshwar.

21991 AIR 420

3Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra, Dehradun V. State of U.P., AIR 1988 SC 1037.

4See for example, Subhash Kumar v. State of Bihar, AIR 1991 SC 420; M.C. Mehta V. Union of India. AIR 2000 SC 1997.

51997 Magsaysay Award Winner for Public Service.

6AIR 2000 SC 3751.

7M.C.Mehta v. Union of India, AIR 1997 SC 734; see also M.C.Mehta v. Union of India, AIR 1999 S.C. 3192.

8AIR 1987 SC 1086

9W.P. 182/1996 Decided on 15th March 2002

10Ranchhodas, R., Thakore, D. K., & Singh, J. G. (2010). Liability for wrongs committed by others (26th edition ed.).