The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 defines environment as, ‘Environment includes Water, Air and Land and therefore the interrelationship which exists among and between Air, Water and Land and the citizenry, other living creatures, Plants, Micro-Organism and Property’.
It is said that, ‘Human beings are made of soil, of earth’. Being a part of the environment, it becomes our moral and ethical duty to strive for its protection. As we enjoy some rights provided by the Constitution of India, it is essential to make sure that those rights are not violated but safeguarded for the present and the future.
Global Warming is a major issue of the 21st Century. The glaciers are melting, the climate is rapidly changing, seasons are all messed up, there is an increase in the number of natural calamities, etc. All of this will eventually lead to an inhabitable Earth Therefore, the guidelines, laws mentioned in the Constitution should be followed and the duties and obligations must be met. In an article published by Jasmin Fox-Skelly on 4th May, 2017 for the BBC states that, “Climate change is melting permafrost soils that have been frozen for thousands of years, and because the soils melt, they’re releasing ancient viruses and bacteria that, have been lying dormant, are springing back to life.”
In a study conducted by evolutionary biologist Jean-Michel Claverie at Aix-Marseille University in France, he states that, “Permafrost may be an excellent preserver of microbes and viruses because it’s cold. There’s no oxygen and it’s dark. Pathogenic viruses which can infect humans or animals might be preserved in old permafrost layers, including some that have caused global epidemics within the past”. During a 2011 study, Boris Revich and Marina Podolnaya wrote: “As a consequence of permafrost melting, the vectors of deadly infections of the 18th and 19th centuries may arise, especially near the cemeteries where the victims of those infections were buried”. During a 2005 study, NASA scientists successfully revived bacteria that had been encased during a frozen pond in Alaska for 32,000 years. The microbes, called Carnobacterium pleistocene, had been frozen since the Pleistocene period, when woolly mammoths still roamed the planet.
These studies focus on the effects of Global Warming and the amount of threat it might bestow upon the human race. We should specialise in skilled threats from global climate change. For instance, as Earth warms, the northern countries may become more susceptible to outbreaks of “southern” diseases like malaria, cholera and dengue, as these pathogens thrive at warmer temperatures. Especially in a country like India with excessive population and ignorance towards important issues. Environmental duties are different but at the same time similar for individuals, authorities, and governments.
Duties of the Individual:
As human beings, it is our responsibility to take care of our environment, our immediate surroundings. Simple tasks like practicing the three R’s- Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Switching to a more sustainable lifestyle- Incorporating natural and organic products in our daily tasks, using less plastic, having less meat, using public transport more often, managing and ensuring proper disposal of waste, organic and home farming which includes growing herbs and vegetables in our homes, practicing hydroponic method of cultivation. Small steps make a big difference. Tasks we do on a daily basis but often don’t realise the kind of impact they make, covering utensils while cooking, storing water only when necessary, switching off lights when not in use, etc. The way small droplets collectively fill the mighty ocean, our tiny efforts can result in a clean and green environment, for us and for generations to come.
Duties of the Government/ Authorities:
The citizens of a country choose the government as representatives and service providers. Therefore, it becomes the government’s responsibility to ensure that the services they provide do not cause harm to the environment. There are laws that the Constitution has bestowed upon the citizens and the government for the conservation of the environment, but making sure that those laws are implemented and executed in a proper manner is the responsibility of the government. Proper maintenance of means of public transport such as buses, trains, aeroplanes, rickshaws, etc. is very crucial. The extent to which public transport buses need repair and maintenance is unfathomable. Negligence of the government and authorities pertaining to environment conservation is horrifying.
Despite laws and efforts of various third party organisations, factories and big corporations continue to release chemicals in water bodies, atmosphere endangering human kind and other living species. We all know the grotesque story of ‘Mahul’ a small fishing village in Chembur, Mumbai, and called The Rehabilitation Hellhole, Human Dumping Ground and many more. According to the World Health Organisation’s urban air quality database, half of the world’s 20 most polluted cities are in India.
Laws related to Environmental Protection in India:
• The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010
• The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981
• The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
• The Environment Protection Act, 1986
• The Hazardous Waste Management Regulations, etc.
• The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
• The Forest Conservation Act, 1980
• Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991
• The Biological Diversity Act, 2002 and many more.
Fulfilling environmental duties and obligations should be a joint effort of every human being, only then will we be able to protect the human race from extinction and save the earth for our generations to come.
The Constitution of India.
BBC Earth, Jasmine Fox Selly, 4 May, 2017
Barstow School, Finnian Waldron, 8 January, 2021
Sustainability Math, 18 May, 2017