Environmental Protection and Business Obligations

Chapter X


Meaning of Environment

Environment can be defined as “our physical and biological system in which man and organisms live as a whole and these systems have many interacting capacities”. It includes rocks, minerals, soil and water, its land and their forests and potential vegetation, its animal life and potentiality of livestock, husbandry, and its climate. Acc to Environment ( Protection) Act, 1986, Environment includes water, air and land and the interrelationship, which exists among and between water, air and land, and human beings, other living creatures, plants, micro-organisms and property.

Environment Pollution

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As environment includes living and non-living organisms, damage to any one of them damages the environment. Scientific and technological advancements and mismanagement of the natural resources have given rise to environmental problems such as pollution of air, water and noise etc… These reasons have adverse effects on flora, fauna and human health. As the earth is the only planet conducive for living organisms, it has become important to live in harmony with the nature, so the world is trying hard to protect the environment. The environment can be understood by the division which is based on four segments of the earth like atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere and biosphere.

Sources of Pollution
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increase in the population and industrialization, urbanization, deforestation etc are depleting the natural resources. • Mankind is generating lot of waste and that has become one of the major reasons for pollution. • The pollution has led many rear species to get extinct as river, ponds, sea water have been polluted and the marine life have been endangered. • The fertility levels of soil are decreased as many pollutants have entered the inner layer of the earth.

Causes of Pollution
The causes can be basically classified into two: a) Natural and b) Man- Made. Natural causes: of pollution include floods, cyclones, earthquakes, and molten lava from volcanoes. Man- Made causes: are population, industrialization, unhygienic settlements due to poverty, urbanization, depleting naturaal recourses and deforestation etc...

Kinds of Pollution
Air Pollution- gases like carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, nitric oxide: Metals like lead, mercury and other organic substances cause pollution. Due to this Acid rains, Depletion of Ozone Layer, Green House Effect/Global Warming are taking place. • Water- Industry Waste, Chemicals used for agricultural purpose and released into the water are the main causes of pollution. • Land- divesting the earth from its natural landscape through deforestation, denudation, discharge of untreated toxic substances to the land and other contaminations has led to pollution.


Kinds of Pollutions

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Sound- Industrial estates, airports, railway stations, road traffic and other sound systems with decibels are causes of noise pollution Solid Waste- junk, tins, glass bottles etc have become one of the major causes of pollution. Oil- oil spilled due to war or accidents which causes the pollution to marine life, as oil can abort many diseases. Nuclear- pollution caused by radioactive materials has serious effects like leukemia, cancer of bones, lungs thyroid, cancer etc…. Thermal- Emission of smoke from thermal power stations due to emission of smoke raising the temperature in rivers and lakes causes pollution.

Environmental Law- Rules relating to Strict and Absolute liability
Strict liability- It is common law principle, and remedy mostly used for environmental pollution cases under the torts law. • Though generally any damage resulting from any injury to property can be read under the principle of negligence or nuisance or trespass, the environmental or personal injury to property or persons are applied based on the Strict Liability Principle interpreted through the landmark judgment of “ Rylands v. Fletcher case”. The Strict Liability Rule is applicable if the following conditions are fulfilled: • Dangerous thing • Escape • Non- Natural use of land.

Exceptions to the Rule of Strict Liability Rule
The rule of strict liability is based on No- Fault Theory and even if the plaintiff cannot prove negligence on the defendants part, the defendant can be held liable for the injury. To this principle of strict or no- fault liability principle there are few exceptions: • Plaintiff’s own Default • Act of God • Consent of the Plaintiff • Act of the Third Party • Statutory Authority

The Rule of Absolute Liability

The mere application of strict liability fails sometimes due to the exceptions applicable to the principles. And to make the law stringent to the prevailing conditions the Supreme Court of India recognized another principle. Which is established without any exceptions applicable to them and that is known as “ Absolute Liability”. This principle was adopted by the SC while deciding the Delhi Olium Gas leakage i.e. MC Mehta v. Union of India (Shriram Food Fertilizers Industries) which was decided when a PIL was filed. The SC purposely evolved the Absolute Liability Principle, so that none of the exceptions applicable to the Strict Liability principle need to applied while deciding the case to create absolute liability to compensate even without their negligence or even if the third party was the reason for the leakage.

Remedies Common Law Remedies Damages Injunction Abatement Criminal Liability
Public Nuisance Under IPC Negligent act to spread infections etc Fouling water by poisonous substance, Fire and combustible mater Explosive substances

Environmental Legislations in India
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The issue has been taken seriously throughout the world both at the national and international levels. India has drawn immense inspiration from the United Nations Conference on Human Environment (Stockholm) in 1972. As an inspiration it has enacted various legislations relating to prevention and control of pollution of various kinds. Other than the special enactments even the Constitution of India has specific provisions relating to the Fundamental Rights and Directive principles of State policy , which guide the country for a environmental friendly State.

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Provisions under the Constitution of India
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Article 19 (1) (g)- Right to practice any profession, occupation, trade or business. Article 21- Right to life and personal liberty, which includes to pollution free environment and clean environment. Article 47- Imposing duty on the State to provide and raise level of nutrition and standard of living and improve public health. State is duty bound to protect and improve the environment including forests, lakes and rivers. Article 48A- Protection of environment, improve and safeguard forests and wildlife. Article 51A(g)- Making the environment to be compassionate for living creatures Apart from these specific provision Article 32 and 226 provide remedies through enforcement of rights conferred.

Special Legislations
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The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974. The Air ( Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981. Forest Conservation Act, 1980 The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 The Hazardous Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules 1989.

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