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Environmental Protection and Awareness

AMOGHA GADKAR,
4th Year, B.A, LL.B
School of Law
University of Mysore

The environmental protection and awareness is the practice of promoting the protection of our
natural environment, to maintain it’s ecological balance and formulating policies and procedure
aimed at achieving sustainable development. The supreme court in RLEK vs. State of UP held
that destroying the ecology and polluting the environment would be more hazards and
dangerous too large number of people, flora and fauna, therefore it is the duty of the
Government and every citizen to protect it.
The Indian parliament to fulfil its conventional duty made at the Stockholm conference passed
the 42nd Amendment to the Indian Constitution in 1976 and incorporated two articles i.e. article
48A and article 51A(g) relating to protection and conservation of environment. Article 48A
compelled the state to take necessary steps for the protection and conservation of the
environment. Later resulted in enactments of legislations such as Wildlife (Protection) Act of
1972, Water Act of 1974, Air Act of 1981, Forest (Conservation) Act of 1986, Environment
Protection Act of 1986, etc. all aimed at safeguarding the environment, forest and wildlife.
Article 51A(g) imposed a fundamental duty upon every citizen to protect the national
environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and also have compassion for living
creatures.
Also, Article 14 and 21 i.e. Right to Equality and Right to Life and Personal Liberty guarantees
clean and healthy environment to all the citizens of India irrespective of his/her cast, sex, race,
religion and place of birth. Further Article 19(1)(a) i.e. Freedom of Speech and Expression which
also includes right to know and to be informed. The Supreme Court in Bhopal Gas Tragedy case
held that it should be duty of the government, corporate or an industry to disclose any
information to the people residing nearby regarding to the hazardous effects of such plan to
their health and environment.
Even with all this legislations, leading precedents and being signatories to so many conventions
and protocols, also being one of the few countries in the world to have an express provisions in
the constitution relating to Environment protection. We have failed and we are depriving our
future generations their right to natural resources, clean and healthy environment.
Why did we fail? Is it the fault of the Legislature? Did the Judiciary fail to provide
environmental justice or did the Executive fail to implement? While we sit here and start
throwing shade at each other, there is a 16 year old girl out there, Greta Thunberg from
Sweden fighting to save this planet. This teenager should not be burden with global warming,
climate change and ecosystems collapsing, etc. She must be going to school, playing with her
friends and getting into trouble, but here she is crying out to save this planet. I guess it’s true
“No One is too Small to Make a Difference” we all failed her, we all failed them.
The truth is our planet's alarm is now going off and it’s time for us to finally wake up and take
action. Let's start by creating awareness, letting the public know the consequence of the
pollution they cause, by conducting, participating and enrolling in Legal Aid camps and National
seminars, broadcasting advertisements and writing articles to the community at large to
educate people about Rain-water Harvesting, Waste Management, Pollutants, preserving
natural resources and concept of Sustainable Development, and making them aware of the
fundamental duty which we all have been ignoring for so long.
The late Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, quoted, “In a few decades the relationship
between environment, resources and conflict may seem almost as obvious as the connection
we see today between human rights, democracy and peace”. I hope she is wrong. The time to
face the greatest challenge of our existence on this planet is now, we are the last best hope of
Earth, if we don’t take necessary steps all that we cherish will be history.