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?Public must react to protect environment?

STRESSING THAT public motivation and involvement is necessary for environment protection, Supreme Court Judge, Justice K G Balakrishnan said that environment laws gained prominence in the country after Bhopal gas tragedy rocked the nation in 1984.

india Updated: Feb 05, 2006 15:33 IST

STRESSING THAT public motivation and involvement is necessary for environment protection, Supreme Court Judge, Justice K G Balakrishnan said that environment laws gained prominence in the country after Bhopal gas tragedy rocked the nation in 1984.

He was speaking as the chief guest at a symposium on, “Environment protection and public participation’ organised by Centre for Environment Protection, Research and Development (CEPRD) at Shrimaya hotel on AB Road this morning. In his keynote address, he said that it was because of Supreme Court directions that natural resources specially the forests could be saved and there is two per cent increase in forest cover.

Stating that society has duty to leave cleaner, pollution free world for coming generations, he said that sustainable development is the key to progress. Giving an example of public awareness, he said that industries that polluted rivers had to be closed down due to public protest in Kerala. “There can be no redressal unless people react,” he remarked and added that non-government organisations could play a major role in motivating people against environmental degradation.

Elaborating, he said that courts have no agencies to investigate the complaints of public interest litigations but its only with public participation that the courts could be enlightened.

MP High Court Chief Justice A K Patnaik said that while judges need to ensure that environment laws are enforced, he said public support was equally important to judiciary. He said judicial commitment and enlightened citizenry could resist pollution caused by industries, hospitals or encroachments along rivers, though it is caused by influential people.

Laying emphasis on research and study to assess the hazards of waste and the environmental issues raised in PILs, he said Indore is the State’s fastest growing City. “Let it’s development not create environment problems,” he concluded.

Speaking on the occasion, Delhi High Court Administrative Judge, Justice Vijender Jain said no law or government could fight pollution without public involvement.

Interpreting Right to Life ingrained in Article 21 of the Constitution, he said that it does not mean animal existence but a right to live with dignity that is free from environmental ruin. “It’s a constitutional obligation of courts and judges to interpret Right to Life in this sense,” he said, warning that existing natural resources might be lost if immediate steps are not taken.

Adding that the media have a social responsibility to educate people against the dangers of ecological imbalance, Justice Jain said its difficult to enforce laws unless people are made to understand the harmful effects.

In his concise speech, senior journalist Abhay Chhajlani said that interpreters of laws should support the cause of the common man, which includes encroachment and pollution free environs, planned development devoid of vested interests. He said laws and judiciary would become redundant if they do not make their presence felt. Senior Mumbai HC advocate, Vikram Trivedi also expressed his views on the occasion.

CEPRD chairman Anand Mohan Mathur delivered the welcome speech while managing trustee and former director general of police S K Das proposed the vote of thanks at the end of function attended by HC judges and lawyers, among others.

First Published: Feb 05, 2006 15:33 IST