Deliberations on Environment Jurisprudence, Climate Change and Nuclear Power Plants
President Appeal to Work Collectively to Protect Environment and Humanity
International seminar on ‘Global environment and Disaster Management: Law and Society’ started deliberations on biodiversity and natural resource management. The seminar which began yesterday discussed the science and economics of biodiversity, access and benefit sharing: rights of plant breeders and traditional communities, protection of biodiversity and ensuring rights of indigenous people: legal framework, bio-safety and genetically modified organisms and natural resource management and the green economy.
The Seminar raises critical issues for reflection on environmental concerns and disaster management providing a platform for academicians, policy makers, the judiciary, lawyers, civil society, law makers, students and other stakeholders to deliberate on topical issues like climate change, natural resource management, disaster management, legal responses to natural and man-made hazards, human rights, the role of the judiciary in strengthening law and policy on environment and disaster management. The focus of the seminar is to collectively seek solutions that are not only environment friendly but support all inclusive growth that sustains not just the environment but human life and livelihoods.
Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil, the President of India, at the inaugural session yesterday observed that this would be an opportunity for discussions on the linkages between the disciplines of law, disaster management and the sciences, as well as to identify legal and technical issues of contemporary significance with relation to the environment. She said, “Managing the environment as well as mitigating and adapting to the many impacts of climate change, will be one of our most important challenges and knowledge must prepare us for taking suitable actions. Experience the world over has, time and again shown that destruction caused by disasters, can be minimized by a well functioning disaster management system and that lack of such systems can cause even greater disaster and that what is needed is efficient policies and institutional support right up to the stage of rehabilitation of affected persons and disaster warning and preparedness systems that are effective must be prepared. We should work collectively to protect environment and humanity. Similarly, relief and rehabilitation work should be quick and well co-ordinated and some man-made disasters can be averted by strict adherence to safety norms and regular maintenance schedules. It is imperative that agencies involved in this area, evolve fully functional partnerships, so that reaction to such events can be timely, efficient and effectual.”
The role of law in the post-disaster phase was expressed to be very important and the President exhorted the legal system to ensure that there is transparency and accountability of all activities, including compensation amounts to be given to the affected, legal assistance and dispute redressal mechanisms.
Chief Justice of India, Justice Sh S H Kapadia said, “The traditional concept that development and ecology are oppose to each other is not acceptable today. Sustainable development is the answer to importance of human life. It will help to eradicate poverty and improve the quality of human life .But the most important essence is right to life. We are growing at the rate of 50,000 per day. The shrinking resources will not help any excellent schemes or projects and will destroy growth. The ultimate challenge for environment ethics is conservation of life on earth. The man-land ratio is adverse. The carrying capacity of the supporting economy has to be improved. The forest and environment is national asset and we have to transfer it to our next generation.” Justice Sh Kapadia suggested to the Ministry of Environment and Forests to simplify their notifications. . He appealed the Ministry to have a panel of experts and follow a common procedure. A change in the pattern of submitting project reports is required where opinion of project applicant for viability of project should not be accepted.
Mr. Goolam E. Vahanvati, Attorney General of India in his Introductory address reflected upon the destruction of forests and uncontrolled use of natural resources which led to disasters like tsunami and mentioned how water resources had been affected by phenomena like anoxia i.e. when water bodies loose oxygen. Global dimming and coral bleaching were also concerns in relation to biodegradation expressed by him.
Mr. Salman Khurshid, Hon’ble Minister of Law and Justice expressed that this seminar was a historic opportunity to provide for a safe and comfortable future for inter generational equity.
Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan, Minister of State for Environment and Forests stated that the earth and the planet are not something that we inherit from our ancestors but something we have borrowed from posterity. The speaker emphasized that the environmental issues require intervention not just by government or by Courts but by every single person and so we need a ‘people’s movement’ on environment to see that the environment is safe from disasters. The speaker further said that India is at the fore front of the drive for sustainability and was the first country to enshrine environment protection and conservation steps in our Constitution and that our country has shown a commitment to sustainable development and has introduced the National Action Plan for Climate change in 2008.
Mr. Justice Dipak Misra, Chief Justice, High Court of Delhi proposed the vote of thanks and said that the need of the hour calls for a clear perceptual shift to develop eco-friendly mindset, the spirit to repair damaged areas and to ingrain the idea that the progress of the human race is only possible, if we nurture nature with care and foster it with real concern.
Mr. Justice Swatanter Kumar, Judge, Supreme Court of India and Chairperson, Organizing Committee in his welcome address invited educationists, environmentalists, judges, lawyers and the delegates to focus and debate on the burning issue of global environment which had brought together the representatives from 15 countries around the globe to showcase a range of innovative suggestions on the resolution of environmental problems.
The participants were called upon to make optimum use of the invaluable exposure in building their tomorrow by protecting the global environment. He expressed hope that this seminar would provide participants a forum to map out a territory which would be equally constructive for the most experienced policy makers and the novice student alike.
“Disaster Risk Reduction”, was no longer optional but a strategic and technical tool for helping national and local governments to fulfil their responsibilities towards citizens and gave a clarion call to effectively mobilize the international community. He also said that environment ought to be treated as “public trust”, protected by judicial pronouncements.
Mr. Justice S. H. Kapadia, Chief Justice of India, Mr. Justice Swatanter Kumar, Judge, Supreme Court of India and Chairperson, Organizing Committee, Mr. Salman Khurshid, Union Minister for Law and Justice, Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan, Minister for Environment and Forests (I/C), Lt. Governor, Shri Tejinder Khanna, Mr. Justice Dipak Misra, Chief Justice, High Court of Delhi, Mr. Goolam E. Vahanvati, Attorney General for India, Judges of the Supreme Court, Chief Justices of High Courts, Judges of High Courts from India and abroad and Prof. D.S. Sengar, Director, Indian Law Institute graced the occasion.
The three days International Seminar on “Global Environment and Disaster Management: Law and Society” has been organised under the aegis of the Supreme Court of India, the High Court of Delhi, the Indian Law Institute, the Ministry of Environment & Forests and the Ministry of Law and Justice. Representatives of 15 countries are participating in it. The Prime Minister of India ,Dr Manmohan Singh will deliver valedictory address tomorrow.