Environment Protection Act, 1986: Recent Development on its Scope

Environment Protection Act, 1986:

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) in the Karnataka High Court claimed that the Environment Protection Act, 1986 was passed by Parliament not only for protection of environment but also at the instance of foreign powers.

  • A writ petition filed by the NGO, United Conservation Movement, against a 2013 notification of the Union Environment Ministry doing away with environment impact assessment reports for widening national highways of over 100 km by more than 40 metres.
  • The United Conservation Movement is a conglomeration of environmental groups, and has over the last couple of years challenged NHAI projects in the Western Ghats, a tiger reserve as well as construction activity in a wildlife reserve.

NHAI’s Claim:

  • NHAI also alleged that many NGOs file petitions for upholding the norms of the Act at the instance of foreign powers.
    Foreign entities such as Amnesty International and Peoples Union for Civil liberties through its Indian counterparts have filed Writ Petitions under Article 32 of the Constitution of India.
  • Article 32 of the Constitution (Right to Constitutional Remedies): It is a fundamental right, which states that individuals have the right to approach the Supreme Court (SC) seeking enforcement of other fundamental rights recognised by the Constitution.
  • The submission alleges that many organisations in India, which function as environmental action and human rights, are actively involved in attacking development projects, and challenging the government. policies & notifications and doing anti national activities.
  • The Environment Protection Act, 1986 is an Act that was influenced by the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held at Stockholm in June, 1972 (Stockholm Conference)
  • Hence, the Act has been passed by Parliament not only for protection of the environment but also at the instance of foreign powers.

Court’s Ruling:

  • The High Court has directed the NHAI chairman to nominate a very senior officer to look into and inquire into the manner in which the statement of objections was filed.
  • The High Court has also asked the NGO, United Conservation Movement, to provide details of its constitution and activities carried out in environment and conservation.

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