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Published : February 24, 2011 | Author : vijayoak
Category : Environmental Law | Total Views : 9075 | Rating :

Prof.Vijay Chandrakant Oak B.SL.LL.M. Asst. Professor, Vidya Pratishthan's Vasantrao Pawar Law college, Baramati (Maharasghtra)

 Indian Judiciary on environment vs. Development conflict

In recent times the conflict between environment and development has becaome quite intense and the judiciary in India has been often called upon these conflicting interests in a catena of cases. Nevertheless the Supreme court of India has done a commendable job in resolving these interests barring a few exceptions.

In Vellore Citizens Welfare forum vs. Union of India while dealing with tannery units and river pollution caused by them the Supreme court applied polluter pays principle and made the tannery owners liable to pay the clean up cost as a pollution fine. The Court directed the tanneries who had not installed effluent treatment plants within the given time to close down their business. The Court observed that although the leather industry is a foreign excjane earner, it cannot be allowed to destroy the ecology. Here the Court rightly appreciated the need of protecting the river against adamant tannery owners and applied sustainable development principles properly.

However in following cases it seems that the Court has missed the opportunity to apply sustainable development principles properly.

In Narmada Bachao Andolan vs. Union of India the Supreme Court negative the challenge to the environmental clearance given to the Sardar Sarovar project by observing that the project would in fact help in upgradation of ecology. However the Hon’ble Court failed to appreciate the need of applying precautionary principle in this case and held that mandatory environmental clearance is not necessary for the said project as it has only a prospective effect.

In Research Foundation for Science Technology and Natural resources Policy vs Union of India and Another. a petition was filed in the apex court on 12 May 2006 to ensure that the ship S.S. Norway before its entry at the Indian port Alang, Gujarat should be directed to comply with the international law, and the national law.

The petitioner asked the court to direct that the S S Norway should not be allowed to come into Indian waters, as its entry will violate the directions given by the Supreme Court . However the Court allowed to break up the ship and to dump the wastes into the sea under the garb that ship breaking activity generates a number of jobs. Here it failed to appreciate the need of applying precautionary principle. The Court ought to have held that in absence of hazardous waste management plan not being submitted, the dumping should not take place.

The judicial process in the area of environment vs. developme nt dispute is undoubtedly complex one. But still the Court has to try its best to come up with uniform application of sustainable developoment principles.
1. (1996) 5 SCC 647
2. AIR 1999 SC 3345
3. Judgment dated 11.09.2007
Authors contact info - articles The  author can be reached at: vijayoak@legalserviceindia.com

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