ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS: Benimadhab Chatterjee; Deep and Deep Publications Pvt. Ltd., F-159, Rajouri Garden, New Delhi-110027. Rs. 580.
INTRODUCING THE book under review, which gives a bird's-eye view of the complicated subject, pollution, Nirmal Kanti Chakrabarti observes, "Environmental pollution is assuming dangerous proportion all through the globe and a growing awareness is discernible all over the world to save the ecological balance. Thus throughout the century a global concern for saving environment is witness to protect and preserve our inalienable right to life, happiness and conservation."
The first chapter traces the evolution of the history of law of pollution as it obtained throughout the world till the Rio De Janeiro declaration came into being. The development of the law on the same subject with particular focus on West Bengal and other states is also discussed in detail classifying laws before and after Indian Independence. A list of various enactments and rules made thereunder find place.
According to the author, the very first case is Dehradun quarrying case, where the Supreme Court ordered the closure of some of these quarries on the ground that their operations were upsetting the ecological balance. "We are having in our statute books a good number of laws covering all subjects and applying to the subjects (people). But we fail in enforcing them. Despite various enactments by Parliament and state legislatures regarding pollution control and environmental protection, nothing much is being done in this respect".
In this way in many cases the Court suggested various remedial measures to strengthen the environmental protection machinery by providing more teeth and also making head of law enforcing agencies personally accountable for any lapse of negligence. "It also suggested to set up an environmental audit by specialist bodies on permanent basis with powers to inspect and take necessary action not only against erring industries but also against erring officers", so says the author.
The worst one is river pollution. In a public interest litigation case the Supreme Court issued directions to tanneries to set up effluent treatment plants within a period of six months and also directed the Central Government Pollution Control Board and District Magistrates to oversee the work. "The right to sweet water and the right to free air are the attributes of the right to life, for these are the basic elements which sustain life itself," said Justice Sankaran Nair in a Kerala case.
Public nuisance is an eyesore. As early as 1979, when a chimney constructed for the business of the respondent by an oven bakes created public nuisance the Supreme Court observed "We are of the opinion that in the matter of this nature where what is involved is not merely a right of a private individual but the health, safety and convenience of the public at large. The safer course would be to accept the view of the learned magistrate who saw for himself the hazard resulting from working of the bakery."
In another case it pointed out if a public nuisance was caused in a locality due to open drains and dirt the magistrate could direct the municipality under Section 133 Cr. P. C. to discharge its responsibilities. The powers of the magistrate under this Section have been well brought out by citing the number of cases on noise pollution as well.
The author has given much importance to West Bengal by giving statistics on pollution pertaining to that state. Pollution is an all-India problem and he should have given data of the other states as well.
The significant omission is the text of the relevant acts. The book contains relevant particulars about all kinds of pollution supported by case laws.
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