At the beginning of 2019, the United Nation’s first global assessment of environmental rule of law demonstrated that environmental laws are growing dramatically worldwide over the past three decades as society has come to know the important links between the protection and conservation of the environment and sustainable use of natural resources, economic process, public health, social cohesion and security which is reflected within the constitutional framework of India and also within the international commitments of India.
The Constitution casts a duty on every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment under Article 51A i.e. Fundamental Duties. Also, Constitution says that the State shall endeavor to guard and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country under Article 48A i.e. DPSP.
Several environment protection legislations existed even before the Independence of India. In the Stockholm Conference, the National Council for Environmental Policy and Planning was set up in 1972, for introducing a regulatory body for environment-related issues. This council was further evolved into MOEF (Ministry of Environment and Forests) in 1985.
There are many legislations for environmental protection-
The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010- It was enacted with the objectives to provide for the establishment of a National Green Tribunal (NGT) for the effective and expeditious disposal of cases concerning environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any right concerning the environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith.
The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981- This act provides for the prevention, control, and abatement of pollution and for the establishment of Boards at the Central and State levels with a view to completing the aforesaid purposes.
The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974- had been enacted to supply for the prevention and control of pollution and to take care of or restore the wholesomeness of water in the country. It also provides for the establishment of Boards for the prevention and control of water pollution with a view to carrying out the aforesaid purposes. This act prohibits the discharge of pollutants into water bodies beyond a given standard and lays down penalties for non-compliance.
The Environment Protection Act, 1986- This act provides for the protection and improvement of the environment. This Act also establishes the framework for studying, planning, and implementing long-term requirements of environmental safety and laying down a system of speedy and adequate response to situations threatening the environment.
The Hazardous Waste Management Regulations- Hazardous waste means any waste which, by reason of any of its physical, chemical, reactive, toxic, flammable, explosive, or corrosive characteristics, causes danger or is likely to cause danger to health or environment, whether alone or when connected with other wastes or substances.
The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972- This act was enacted with the target of effectively protecting the wildlife of this country and controlling poaching, smuggling, and illegal trade of wildlife and its derivatives.
The Forest Conservation Act, 1980- It was enacted to help conserve the country’s forests.
The Biological Diversity Act, 2002- The Act aims at the conservation of biological resources and associated knowledge as well as facilitating access to them in a sustainable manner.