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ecological imperatives with developmental goods

In Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum v. Union of India, the Supreme Court of India recognized the Principle of sustainable development as a basis for balancing ecological imperatives with developmental goods. Rejecting the old notion that development and environment cannot go together, the Supreme Court gave a landmark judgment and held that sustainable development is a viable concept to eradicate poverty. It will improve the quality of human life if human beings live within the carrying capacity of the life supporting ecosystem.

The Supreme Court in A.P. Pollution Control Board v. M.V. Nayudu, observed that in order to ensure that there is neither damage to the environment nor to the ecology and, at the same time ensuring sustainable development it can refer scientific and technical aspects for investigation and opinions to statutory expert bodies having combination of both judicial and technical expertise in such matter.

The Supreme Court in M.C. Mehta v. Union of India, observed that “the development and the protection of environments are not enemies. If without degrading the environment or minimizing adverse effects thereupon by applying stringent safeguards, it is possible to carry on development activity applying the principles of sustainable development, in that eventuality, the development has to go on because one cannot lose sight of the need for development of industries, projects, etc. including the need to improve employment opportunities and the generation of revenue. A balance has to be struck.

In N.D. Jayal v. Union of India, Court held that the right to clean environment and right to development are integral parts of human right covered by Article 21 of Constitution. The Court laid down that the principle of sustainable development is a means to achieve the object and purpose of Environment Protection Act, 1986 as well as protection of life envisaged under Article 21 of Constitution. The Court found that the conditional clearance that the Ministry of Environment and Forests had granted for the construction of Tehri Dam was not properly implemented. The conditional clearance granted by the ministry related to catchment area treatment, command area development, rehabilitation, disaster management, flora fauna, water equality maintenance, Bhagirathi Besan management authority. Supreme Court laid down that disaster management must be integrated with development activities. Court said that people who are displaced from the area on account of the construction of the Dam have a right under Article 21 to lead a decent life and earn livelihood in rehabilitated located. Court observed that rehabilitation must take place 6 months before the sub emergence of area.

In Fertilizers and Chemicals Praveucore limited. employees association v. Law society of India, the court held that where public sector undertakings manufacture chemicals and fertilizers for the larger benefit of the community asking them to relocate as they cause a threat to the life of the people in neighbourhood areas, would not be a practical solution. Therefore court recommended that such industries should continue their production subject to taking effective measures to protect and prevent the risk of environmental accident