NUPUR CHOWDHURY AND ELS REYNAERS
Environmental law as an area of practice and academic discipline in India has developed considerably over the last three decades. Beginning with the enactment of specific environmental pollution legislations like the:
Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1974 and Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1981,followed by the more holistically designed Environmental Protection Act of 1986; and the expansion of fundamental rights jurisprudence to include environmental protection through public interest litigation, there has been both a realisation and awareness in the government, legislature, judiciary and indeed individual citizens of the need to develop a dedicated body of policy, legal and regulatory instruments to address environmental issues that range from brown pollution to that of wildlife and forest protection, natural resource management and climate change.
In some ways these national developments mirror international events and occurrences (for instance, the hazardous waste regulation was implemented following the Basel Convention).
Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that domestic exigencies have also influenced key legislative developments in India. For instance, the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 was enacted partially in response to the grave environmental and health hazards that resulted from the Bhopal Gas Tragedy.
Both community activism and judicial interventions have been identifiable hallmarks of the environmental protection movement in India. Community activism has been widespread in rural areas and specifically in the case of natural resources.
This also highlights the sui generis nature of the environmental movement in India which is embedded within resource conflicts between the government and poorer local communities, and not, for instance, based on NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) concerns of an urban middle class as may have been the case in some Western countries. Environmental law debates are closely related to the debates on the nature and distributional impacts of the Indian development paradigm.
There is also a critical need to look into the various legislations which in their impact and scope touch upon environmental resilience and communities’ coping capacities. Existing frameworks on disaster management, rehabilitation and the value of development itself need to be put in perspective while assessing the overall jurisprudential impact of environment related policy making and legislation.
Judicial interventions by the Supreme Court as well as some of the High Courts have played a critical role in developing jurisprudence and key regulatory instruments for ensuring environmental protection. The overall quality, focus and impact of environmentally mandated legislations as seen in the Indian jurisprudence need specific stock-taking.
These perspectives on developments in India can be enriched by comparative studies on the development on environmental law in other countries.
These countries not only include those with whom we share common historical and cultural histories (countries of the subcontinent, South Asia and developing countries) but also those which have experimented with similar legal instruments (for instance the use of EIA (Environment Impact Assessment) in China, Brazil and EU-wide), or constitutional approaches (such as South Africa).
Despite the judicial activism by the Indian Courts and their innovative approaches, the enforcement of the various environmental laws and principles still appear to project a very mixed result in terms of achieving actual compliance. Therefore, environmental governance models, the role of the executive power and the way the various enforcement agencies function and are structured, are worthy of further comparative analysis as well.
1. Legal Remedies to address Environmental Harm
2. Extensive use of the writ remedy and the concomitant lack of usage of statutory remedies
3. Tort remedies – public and private nuisance and negligence.
4. Design and application of remedies under specific statutes like Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974, Forest Conservation Act 1980, Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981, Environment Protection Act 1986.
5. Comparative studies on the usage of tort or constitutional remedies in other jurisdictions.
6. Role of Personalities, Institutions and International Legal Developments
7. Role of specific judges in spearheading judicial activism on environmental issues
8. Assessment of judicial activism and its boundaries (e.g. the tension between the right to life and the notion of the wider public benefit in large-scale infrastructure projects). Approaches in India and other jurisdictions.
9.Performance of regulatory authorities like State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), National Human Rights Commission and National Biodiversity Authority. Comparative studies regarding environmental governance structures and successes in other jurisdictions.
10. Role of National Green Tribunal, Green Benches of High Courts and Supreme Court. Stocktaking of developments in India; and/ or comparative studies in other jurisdictions.
11. National Implementation of Indian international obligations under Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs), such as the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety; Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change; the Basel Convention on TransboundaryMovement of Hazardous Wastes, etc.
12. Comparative studies regarding domestic implementation of themes addressed under MEAs: e.g. domestic responses to climate change, regulation of GMOs, etc.
13. Climate change, the UNFCCC regime and future challenges.
Stakeholder participation and Civil Society Activism
14. Class action suits in e.g. the United States, and its scope in other common law jurisdictions, including India.
15. Role of scientific experts in environmental law and disputes in India (e.g. EIA consultants; expert witnesses; bodies such as NEERI) and other jurisdictions.
16. Workable stakeholder engagement models for large public infrastructure projects: comparative studies.
International / comparative research
Comparative analysis of all the above topics, including lessons learned, laudable developments, etc. are welcome, although an India component is always strongly encouraged.
Submissions can be in the form of articles, case notes and book reviews and should be emailed to the address listed below in an MS Word *.doc (Times New Roman, font size 12, double spacing) format.
Articles should be of 8,000 to 10,000 words, case notes and book reviews should be of 3000 to 4000 words (including footnotes). All manuscripts should be in UK English and footnotes should conform to the requirements of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (19th ed.).
Contributors should email a 500 word abstract of their submission at the address provided below by 15th September 2014. The deadline for accepting final submissions is 30th November 2014.
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