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Environment protection (Indian Constitution articles)
Jan 07, 2014

  • The State's responsibility with regard to environmental protection has been laid down under Article 48-A of our Constitution, which reads as follows: "The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country".

  • Environmental protection is a fundamental duty of every citizen of this country under Article 51-A(g) of our Constitution which reads as follows: "It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures."

  • Article 21 of the Constitution is a fundamental right which reads as follows: "No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law."

  • Article 48-A of the Constitution comes under Directive Principles of State Policy and Article 51 A(g) of the Constitution comes under Fundamental Duties.

  • The State's responsibility with regard to raising the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health has been laid down under Article 47 of the Constitution which reads as follows: "The State shall regard the raising of the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people and the improvement of public health as among its primary duties and, in particular, the State shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption except for medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health."

  • The 42nd amendment to the Constitution was brought about in the year 1974 makes it the responsibility of the State Government to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country. The latter, under Fundamental Duties, makes it the fundamental duty of every citizen to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures.

  • The subjects related to environment in the seventh schedule of the Constitution: Industries; Regulation and development of oil fields and mineral oil resources; Regulation of mines and mineral development; Regulation and development of inter-State rivers and river valleys;Fishing and fisheries beyond territorial waters;' Forests; Protection of wild animals and birds,etc. As conferred by Article 246(1), while the Union is supreme to make any law over the subjects enumerated in List I, the States, under Article 246 (3), enjoy competence to legislate on the entries contained in List II, and both the Union and the States under Article 246(2) have concurrent jurisdiction on entries contained in List III. In the event of a clash, the Union enjoys a primacy over States in that its legislation in the Union and the Concurrent List prevails over State legislations. Also, the Parliament has residuary powers to legislate on any matter not covered in the three Lists (Art. 248).

  • The third tier of government was introduced in the Indian Constitution by the 73rd and 74th Amendment in 1992. The third tier is the local government at rural and urban areas. Rural local governments are called Panchayats and they have been constituted at district, block, and village levels. The urban local governments are the municipal corporations, municipalities and for smaller towns, Nagarapalikas. These already existed in some states, and after the amendments, these local bodies were conferred the constitutional status. The eleventh and twelfth schedules to the constitution list the subjects to be devolved to the rural and urban local governments respectively, but these are carried out concurrently with the state governments. The environmental functions listed for the rural local governments include land improvement, land consolidation and soil conservation, minor irrigation, water management and watershed development, fisheries, social forestry and farm forestry, minor forest products, drinking water, fuel and fodder non-conventional energy sources and maintenance of community assets. For urban local bodies,the list includes subjects like water supply for domestic, industrial, and commercial purposes; public health, sanitation, conservancy and solid waste management; and urban forestry, protection of the environment and promotion of ecological aspects, provision of urban amenities and ,facilities such as parks, gardens, and playgrounds are listed.

 


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