ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION: A COMPARITIVE ANALYSIS OF THE INDIAN LAWS WITH UK AND SWITZERLAND

AUTHORS:

Princee Dhawan, Amity Chattisgarh

Kanika Jaiswal, KLE Bengaluru EDITOR: Akansha Singh, RMLNLU Lucknow







INTRODUCTION

In the past forty years, environmental law has speedily developed simultaneously with the increment in environmental dangers. In the late 19th Century, there was no realization for the idea that ecosystems and other key natural resources should be made the subject of legal protection. Before the 1960s, environmental law had no domestic and international legislation of its own. Even in the 1970s, there were a few multilateral agreements subjected to environmental law, and most countries lacked a law for their environment. But with the 21st-century environment preservation merged with a nation’s overall progress and therefore with major thrust in fields of public health, resources conservation and legal actions against pollution damage, Environmental Law got the initial recognition. At present, there are hundreds of environmental agreements and conventions and every country have its environmental legislation. The development of environmental law can be divided in three distinct periods: Traditional Period (1900-1972), Modern Period (1972-1992) and Post-Modern Period (1992-2012). During traditional period, it began as a fundamental element of International Law when bilateral agreements were entered into between various states to resolve issues over shared natural resources. The beginning of ‘modern’ international environmental law marks the emerging of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm. This period includes various developments. ‘Post – Modern ‘period begins with the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development and lasts for the next two decades. It begins in June 1992 when countries met in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on the twentieth anniversary of the 1972 Stockholm Conference. This passed a critical message to the world that environment and development were the concerns of all countries, irrespective of their economic development. The emergence of global environmental problems such as climate change and depletion of ozone layer has coincided with new thinking about governance. Countries experienced huge fall in the environment quality due to increasing global warming which had major impact on flora and fauna and disturbed the system of food chain. Today the main issue of environmental governance is the way societies respond to environmental problems. It concerns interactions among formal and informal institutions and actors within society that influence how environmental problems are identified. The amount of literature on environmental governance at the international level has been increasing rapidly since the early 1990s (e.g., Sand 1992; Hempel 1996; Young 1997). Environmental laws are being strengthened with the main motive to ensure sustainable development across nations[1] .


ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS IN SWITZERLAND AND INDIA

SWITZERLAND:

In the 1950s wastewater generated from Switzerland’s factories, businesses and households flowed into the country’s streams, lakes and rivers. Stocks of fish regularly ended their life. In 1953, the responsibility to safeguard lakes and rivers was enshrined in the Constitution and four years after the Waters Protection Act was enforced. Its main objective was expansion of the sewage disposal networks and to improvise lakes and rivers. The Forests Inspectorate Act of 1876 placed Swiss forests under strict safeguard and released the principles of sustainable management for the first time. A year after the Forests Inspectorate Act, the Hydraulic Engineering Act was passed, which led to the widespread damming and channelling of Swiss lakes and rivers connecting it to sewage treatment plants. Issues regarding the rapid changes to the landscape led to an article on the protection of nature and cultural heritage being added to the Federal Constitution in 1962. This amendment resulted in the enactment of the Nature and Cultural Heritage Act (NCHA) in 1966. Year 1965, called for statutory regulations in the environment sector. The related article on environmental protection in the Constitution was approved. In 1983, the phenomenon of “dying forests” suddenly brought air pollution into the public eye. It also helped to ensure that the Environment Protection Act was quickly implemented in specific terms in this area, in the form of the Air Pollution Control Ordinance. In 1987 the Montreal Protocol, also ratified by Switzerland, introduced a global ban on the substances most harmful to the ozone layer. The 1969 Toxic Substances Act (TSA) created a framework for dealing with toxic substances in order to protect the health of humans and animals. The Environmental Protection Act expanded the statutory framework to include the protection of the environment. The Major Accident Ordinance (MAO) introduced shortly thereafter helped to increase risk awareness and substantially reduce the risks. The Chemicals Act of 2000 introduced comprehensive new regulations for the entire chemicals industry. Whatever the causes and influences, Switzerland has proven to be a fertile ground for the generation of endeavours that support environmental sustainability. Not surprisingly, many of these enterprises consider reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and, therefore, limiting climate change, as a major goal. Successfully helping to control climate change is, of course, a goal that can benefit more than just this small European country[2].

INDIA: In India , the urge to merge environmental issues into the system of economic development was recognised in the late 1960s, during the formulation of the 4th Five-Year Plan (1969 to1974), which defined that “planning for harmonious development is possible only on the basis of a comprehensive appraisal of environmental problems”. Integration of environmental resource management national economic planning began with the 6th Five-Year Plan. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1974 has established Central and State Pollution Control Boards (CPCB and SPCB) to prevent and control water pollution. The Air (Control and Prevention of Pollution) Act of 1981 strengthened the Central and State pollution control boards to deal with air pollution. In 1986, after the Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984, the Environment (Protection) Act,1986 was enacted. This legislation empowers the union government to make decisions on emission and effluent standards, restrict industrial sites, promulgate procedures and safeguards for accident prevention and handling of hazardous waste, investigate and research pollution issues, conduct on-site inspections, establish laboratories, and collect and disseminate information. The 7th and 8th Five-Year Plans identified the concerns of environmental resource preservation and sustainability as being as important as many other developmental objectives. The guidelines in the National Conservation Strategy and Policy Statement on Environment and Development and the Policy Statement on Control of Pollution are considered in the 9th Five-Year Plan.

As per the governmental structures of country, more traditional performers such as the Royal Family, the judicial system and the village panchayats have played a critical role in environmental governance. During the 1990s several NGOs and the media have also been emerging. Several initiatives by international agencies is also identified in the environmental policy processes of India. The nation has introduced policy followed previously in developed countries. Institutional styles identical to those of developed countries are also being adopted. Though environmental policies and programmes are to become more identical in style to those in developed countries, the system involved in decision-making and the implementation of environmental governance are not always the same. This suggests that more in-depth analysis of environmental governance systems is necessary[3].

Our environment is truly something which we can’t afford to lose. It is the greatest gift to mankind and its protection should be our biggest priority and responsibility. We humans should always be grateful for how much importance the environment plays in our lives. But instead what we do is to destroy the originality of nature by our reckless use. We are not just destroying the physical environment which is so fragile and indispensable but also the lives of our future generations and even degrading our quality of life.

The necessity to protect and to conserve our environment is even recognized by our constitution. It requires every citizen to safeguard our natural resources as a Fundamental duty under article 51A and also state under article 48-A. Unfortunately, India is among the countries where pollution is at an alarming level, where Indian cities are counted as most polluted ones in the world. Simply spreading awareness is not enough; we need to have stringent laws for such an important issue. India’s rank on environment performance Index is very low that is 169 out of 180 countries, considerably better than earlier we have jumped 8 places but still have miles to go.The global index considered 32 indicators of environmental performance, giving a snapshot of the 10-year trends in environmental performance at the national and global levels and also India’s rank on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) among the South Asian countries was low, according to State of India’s Environment 2020[1].

India has implemented various pertinent legislations to create an obligation on citizens to conserve the environment and restraining everyone irrespective of their money and power. In the absence of these laws, there would be no regulations regarding gas emissions, pollution, deforestation etc, violation of law will result in punishments. The most important one is environment protection act 1986 which is implemented after the United Nation conference on the human environment held in Stockholm in 1972. The main objective of this act is to promote sustainable development. This act gives powers to the central govt to implement any necessary regulations.

Others act which supplement EPA 1986 are The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 which is implemented to avoid water pollution and punishing those who release affluent in the water. This act ensures access of water to the entire country.

The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 which aids us in combating the Air pollution, maintaining air quality standards, details about pollutants.

The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 is a quasi-judicial body established to ensure that the dispute related to the environment are being heard effectively and get resolved speedily. It gives legal remedy or compensation to person or property at dispute.


COMPARISON OF UK AND INDIAN LAWS

A considerable part of environmental legislation in the UK originates from the EU, which is directly devised or implemented through national legislation.UK first environment law is the Alkali Act 1863which was enacted at the time of industrial revolution basically for the purpose of sewage, housing and emissions[2] .whereas in India primary legislation that came into force was after The Stockholm Conference on Human Environment in 1972[3].

The key regulatory authority is Environment authority (EA) is the main body responsible for enforcement of law and also local authorities have also the power to carry out the function. In India, the key regulatory authority is the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, CPCB, SPCBs, District Level Authorities (that is, municipal corporations).

Some important legislation is environmental permitting regime (EPR) with pollution prevention and control (PPC) waste management licensing and industrial emissions. Whereas in India Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974. Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981 (Air Act), environment (Protection) Act 1986 (EP Act).

UK government is putting tremendous efforts towards promoting sustainable development they have created cabinet communities to coordinate policy on sustainable development and also strengthening the system of green ministers. “The percentage of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere emanating from the UK has been falling, the quality of rivers and air have shown significant signs of improvement with urban air quality. Britain's initiative in setting environmental policies on a systematic and sounder footing was appreciated both domestically and internationally”[4]. In contrary, India still lacks in terms of adopting sustainable goals and is the biggest emitter of harmful gases. The quality of air is degrading every day. More stringent laws should be acquired to maintain the standards and India should learn different approach adopted by the developed nations such as the United Kingdom.

[1] Pratyush Pandey , History of Environmental Law , law times journal ( 24 July , 2020 , 10 : 04 AM ), http://lawtimesjournal.in/history-of-environmental . [2] Markus Schott , Switzerland : The International Comparative Legal Guide to : Environment & Climate Change Law 2019 , mondaq ( July 24 , 2020 , 11 :05 AM ), https://www.mondaq.com/climate-change/780950/the-international-comparative-legal-guide-to-environment-climate-change-law-2019. [3] Deva Prasad M and Suchithra Menon C., India’s environmental laws require a fundamental shift, like an independent regulator, The Print (July 24, 2020, 11:20 AM), https://theprint.in/opinion/indias-environmental-laws-require-a-fundamental-shift-like-an-independent-regulator/421073/.

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