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  A STUDY INTO THE CONCEPT OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN INDIA, INCLUDING CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS: AN ANALYSIS. By: Vyjayanthi.RaghavanFinal Year, B.A., LL.B.,(Hons.)SASTRA UNIVERSITY, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu.  INTRODUCTION Challenges facing mankind on the environmental front have become truly global and pressing. The industrial countries, having enjoyed more than their share of development, have achieved a decent standard of living.This has given to the earth pollution and eco-degradation as a result of affluence and underlying greed. It has now become clear that such patterns of development, life styles and quality of life are unsustainable. 1 On the contrary, the developing countries are still struggling for minimum levels of sustenance. Thesecountries need abundant material growth to fulfill the basic needs of their people andthey cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the industrial countries. As far as possible, these countries must take the sustainable path of development from the very beginning.Hence the concept of Sustainable Development was given the importance due to growing concerns.Sustainable development in this environment therefore, calls for cooperation of all countries both industrialized and developing. Thatcooperation must be based on the foundation of the right to development and the need for an equitable distribution of burden. 2 SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: AN UNDERSTANDING. Economic growth is one major concern for all the countries around the globe. For this, availability of natural resources is essential.The scarcity of these resources has not only hindered economic growth, but has caused various other problems. Economic growth cannot continue unhindered when the environment is overexploited beyond its carrying capacity. The maximum use by the economic system that the environment bears is defined as the carrying capacity of the environment. 3 Sustainable development is the development that meets the needs of the present without  jeopardizing the needs of future generations. In other words, every generation should leave air, 1 2  3   water and soil resources as pure and unpolluted. Although it is a difficult proposition, it can be achieved through proper environmental management. 4 The objective of sustainable development is to promote development, improve global consumption, and maintain a healthy local environment and thereby contributing towards solving critical global environmental management problem.The principle of sustainable development emphasizes on two basic needs, firstly, need for socio-economic development and secondly, need of limitation imposed on the environment's capability to cope with the present and future requirements. 5 ROLE OF JUDICIARY: THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION. There is a consensus of opinion that economic development and environmental protection are mutually reinforcing.The constitution of any country is the basic source of law and the provisions of all other laws are subject to the provisions of the constitution itself. The Indian Constitution is amongst the few in the world that contains specific provisions on environmental protection. ORIGIN OF THE DOCTRINE The concept of 'Sustainable Development' is not a new concept. The doctrine had come to be known as early as in 1972 in the Stockholm declaration.The concept was given a definite shape in a report by world commission on environment, which was known as ' our common future'. The commission, which was chaired bythe then Norway Prime Minister, Ms. G.H. Brundtland defined 'Sustainable Development' as:   4  5  " Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs". 6 JUDICIARY’S ROLE. Judiciaryin India, more precisely, the Supreme Court and the High Courts have played an important role in preserving the doctrine of ' Sustainable Development '. The Parliament has enacted various laws to deal with the problems of environmental degradation and thesuperior courts have played a pivotal role in interpreting those laws to suit the doctrine of ' Sustainable Development'.The judiciary understoodthat unsustainable development exacerbates poverty, environmental crises, social and political disintegration, andnational security challenges.Hence it started to give utmost importance to Environment related issues. Since 1972, India has been taking some concrete steps towards protection of environment as result of which, a mass of environmental legislations have evolved. Some important legislations which can be mentioned here are as follows: The Environment (Protection) Act 1986 (“EPA”); Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974; The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981; The Wildlife (Protection) Act; 1972,Hazardous Waste (Management, Handling and Trans-boundary Movement) Rules,2008 (“Hazardous Waste Rules”); The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991; The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1927; National Green Tribunal Act 2010. 7 The case of Bhopal Gas Leak which occurred on 3 rd Dec, 1984,is no doubt the worst example of negligence in industrial sector. It is a fact that the Government of India is highly responsible for this disaster and ethical questions were also raised against them for running such dangerous 6 Brundtland Report available at –future. 7  and hazardous industries without safeguarding the interest of the citizens. 8 Even after many years after the Bhopal gas leak, it remains unclear as to who must bear legal responsibilities. When Oleum gas leaked from one of the units of Shriram Foods and Fertilizers Industry in Delhi in December 1985, the Supreme Court formulated the following two principles of:•Absolute liability (where act of God and sabotage constitute the only exceptions) and •Enterprise liability where the amount of compensation would depend upon the capacity of the industry. 9 The Apex court in Vellore Citizen’s Welfare Forum vs. UOI and Others 10 , applied ‘the Precautionary Principle’ and ‘the Polluter’s Pays Principle’ and mentioned that they are essential features of “Sustainable Development”and stated that the absolute liability for harm to the environment extends not only to compensate the victims of pollution but also the cost of restoring the environmental degradation. In A.P. Pollution Control Board v. M.V. Nayudu , 11 the Apex Court observed that where the State Government makes an attempt to balance the need of the environment and need of the economic development, it would not be proper to prohibit it from doing so. In such a case, it would be safer to apply the ‘protective principle’ and the ‘principle of polluter pays’, keeping in mind the principle of sustainable development and the ‘principle of inter-generational equity. 12 FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS AND DUTIES. Article 21 of the Indian Constitution states that no person shall be deprived of his life and liberty except according to the procedure established by law. The constitution of India recognizes the right to a wholesome healthy environment as a part of the right to life 8 SHYAM DIVAN&ARMIN ROSENCRANZ, ENVIRONMENTAL LAW & POLICY IN INDIA 549 (2001). 9 Dr.Usha Ramanathan, Liability and Environmental Damage, The Indian Experience, available at conference_0402/assets/kl/040226_UshaRamanathan.pdf. 10 1996, 5SCC647-648. 11 1999 2 SCC 718. 12
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