The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh said, “In this increasingly integrated world that we live in, we have to devise cooperative solutions to deal with the pressing emerging global challenges and concerns. The development of new environment friendly technologies is going to play a very important role. The task ahead is to design a system of intellectual property rights which provides adequate incentives to invest in the development of new environment friendly technologies and at the same time ensuring that these technologies become available to poor countries at affordable cost.” Delivering a valedictory address at the end of three-day International Seminar on Global Environment and Disaster Management: Law and Society” here today, Dr Singh said The United Nations Conference held at Stockholm in 1972 marked the first major international event to deal with environmental issues. But securing global cooperation for the protection and preservation of the environment has proved quite difficult. All countries, both rich and poor, developed and developing, countries of the north and countries of the south need to cooperate in this sort of global effort now.The very definition of growth has been enlarged to accommodate environmental and related concerns. . It is no longer possible to treat the environment with passive disregard. Sustainable development has been accepted widely as the strategy that marries the aspirations for growth and development with preservation of the environment.
The Prime Minister said, “At times of the newly liberalized we did not bear the depletion of the nation’s natural resources as the cost of doing business silently and did not compromise. Our judiciary enforced laws passed by a farsighted legislature to ensure that these concerns were neither diluted nor dismissed. Our safeguards are now far more stringent. A major challenge ahead is to put in place a legal and regulatory framework which is effective in protecting the environment but without bringing back the hated license permit raj of the pre-1991 period.”
Giving an outline of national agenda for environmental protection to meet the challenges of disaster management and climate changeduring last last four years, Dr Singh explained, “We have a target for greening 10 million hectares of forest land to increase incomes of the poor through a national Green India Mission. Action for generating over 20,000 MW of solar energy by the year 2020 is underway. Our mission for enhanced energy efficiency will reduce substantially need for capacity addition. Our mission for sustainable habitat will develop standards for green buildings which we intend to make integral to our municipal laws. Our missions on sustainable agriculture and water conservation will increase productivity of dry land agriculture as well as increase efficiency of water use. All these steps will cumulatively lead us to a low carbon growth path. These are steps that we have decided to take on our own as responsible global citizens.”
Justice Sh S H Kapadia, Chief Justice of India, who was presiding over the function said, “The concept of environmental protection should be a continuous process in the context of what constitute clean, decent and viable environment. It is the case of applied ethics where governments and authorities have to look into. We need electricity for our huge population and industrial growth. We need clean energy.”
Giving details of India’s vast topography in reference to coastal Regulatory Zone, Justice Sh Kapadia said, “ We have to see the practical aspects of all problems for straight and zigzag coastline to implement the same order. This is one way of balancing ecology and livelihood. Most acute problem the Supreme Court faces today is the plants, buildings, projects come up and suddenly at the end, a PIL comes and we are there to decide post facto approval. Large investment is thrown out. In future conferences should look into this post facto approvals as Brithish System has done ‘Meets and Rationality’ development on scientific lines.”
Justice Sh Kapadia, further said that under the Environment Protection Act, we have public participation. He regretted to say that sometimes some village durbars and local bodies which initially grants okays NOCs, later on they turn back, they object the project to come up. It becomes difficult to deal with this kind of problems? Even in public participation, the views change for certain reasons at later date, he added.
Regarding judicial restraint he said, “As long as the principle of sustainable development are followed, Green Tribunal is now working. A case of what is called margin of appreciation should be applied, so that Ministry of Environment and Forests and other authorities can balance environment.” He suggested the Ministry to take into account a regulatory mechanism for enforcement of environmental issues. India is a vast country. We can’t just rely upon the report of project proponent. MoEF alone cannot have this appraisal in some of the cases. For mining, he elaborated, the regulatory mechanism should not be in charge of only term of appraisal, but also in charge of pricing. All norms and mining plans are there, but at the state level , they are being flouted for some reasons. We do not have machinery to supervise even mining plans for environmental protection. There is a biggest problem of pricing. Time has come when excavated minerals should be judged, auctioned or should have price determining mechanism. The ad valorem royalty is not considered which result in public sector companies earning less profit margin and the private companies earn huge profit margin because of differences between the royalties they pay to the government and the amount they realize abroad. Due to this, ill legal mining is going on in many states. A regulatory mechanism for appraisal and pricing are required.
Law Minister Sh Salman Khurshid said, “This gathering of global world from all sections of judiciary and governments was here to discover new concepts and new principles that will bind us together and secure environment for our succeeding generation with sense of confidence. Disasters, disease, concerns about life style we understand in the right context of economics, morality, management and philosophy.”
Minister of State for Environment and Forests, (I/C), Smt Jayanthi Natarajan said, “ We have eight missions started by our Prime Minister for preserving environment, reducing pollution, increasing green cover and climate change. They will reduce substantially need for capacity addition. All these steps will cumulatively lead us to a low carbon growth path.”
Justice Sh Altamas Kabir deliver keynote address. Justice Sh Swantanter Kumar welcomed the gathering.A special issue of the journal of the Indian Law Institute on ‘Climate Change and Environmental Law’ was released by the Prime Minister.