वन्य जीवन एवं पर्यावरण

International Journal of Environment & Agriculture ISSN 2395 5791


बीती सदी में बापू ने कहा था

"किसी राष्ट्र की महानता और नैतिक प्रगति को इस बात से मापा जाता है कि वह अपने यहां जानवरों से किस तरह का सलूक करता है"- मोहनदास करमचन्द गाँधी

ये जंगल तो हमारे मायका हैं

Apr 24, 2016

Tribes, Forest and The Law !

Environmental  fangs and ferocity  turmoil and shrimpy resolutions but Indian tribes  and supreme court of India are rangers of environment

“The robbed Judge must hold the sword and the scale, both together being symbolic of social justice.”

The world needs to listen to the cry of the Earth, which is asking for help. They understand that once the forests, trees and mountains have been depleted, mutilated or polluted too severely, no technological quick fixes will restore them. Tribal peoples are, of course, not ecological saints, but their largely sustainable and communal ways of living do act as a counterpoint to the damaging excesses and solo living of many “modern” societies, showing us that humanity is about “we”, not “I”, belonging not ownership, human values not economics, balance with nature, not destruction.

Forests are homes and livelihoods

The forests are home not only to more than 100 000 species of flora and fauna—many of them rare—but provide livelihoods for 200-million largely tribal people. Communities living near forests depended on them for building material, fuel, fodder, and often also food in the shape of wild fruits and tubers. They play a major role in managing natural resources and their daily tasks make them the daily managers of the living environment.Most women in tribal areas draw upon their traditional and often extensive knowledge of the fauna and flora of their environment and recognize the importance of preservation of species and sustainable utilization of the components of their eco-system.

Preservation of the resources by tribesmen

 Preservation of the resources on which they relied for so many of their needs was in the tribesmen's own interests, and as long as there was no interference by advanced populations the ecological balance was usually well maintained.

Tribal communities dwelling in enclaves inside the forest were either evicted or denied access to the forest produce on which they had depended for many necessities. Thus arose a conflict between the traditional tribal ownership and the state's claim to the entire forest wealth. Numerous revolts were the direct result of the denial of the local tribal’s' right in the forests which they had always considered their communal property The traditional de facto ownership of tribal communities was now replaced by the de jure ownership of the state, which ultimately led to the exploitation of forest resources with total disregard for the needs of the tribal economy. Numerous Tribes use innovative practices to protect natural resources and the environment.

Each Tribe is an individual, sovereign government and is unique in structure and culture. Tribes operate their programs in a variety of ways. Common differences among Tribal operating methods include varying goals and objectives, administrative systems, funding resources, and the capacity to implement projects.

Natural resources play a vital role in Tribal economies, which rely on land use, such as forestry and agriculture. Tribal communities also rely on the land for subsistence activities, such as hunting and fishing. Land has always had great spiritual and cultural significance to the Tribes. To preserve the land, Tribes are committed to implementing environmental and natural resource programs.

These programs include developing Tribal environmental regulations; managing solid and
hazardous waste; and addressing issues of safe drinking water, sanitation, subsistence hunting and fishing, and cultural heritage preservation.

The tribes largely dependent upon forests as they derive their life substance from forests at two levels; 
(1) Subsistence in terms of food, Sheller, fodder, fuel-wood, health care and amusement and (2) economic base for earning livelihood through wage earning, raw material used in cottage industry and minor forest products (MFP) for self-consumption as well as for marketing the products. The tribal economy, specially of those having linkage with forests has greatly
been dependent upon forests, forest management and forest development. On the basic economic activities of the tribes may be classified under the following heads 

1- Food gathering including hunting and fishing.
2- Pastoral 
3- Shifting hill cultivation 
4- Settled cultivation
 5- Handy Crafts
 6- Trade and commerce 
7- Labour

work including agricultural and industrial labour. Forest are intimately connected with the tribes life and their economy. Vast majority of the tribal people, the forest is their well-loved home, their livelihood and their existence depends on forests, it gives them food-fruits
of all kinds, edible roots and leaves, wild game and other minor products which are sold for exchanged, it provides them with materials to build their houses or to practice their arts which are often financially gainful. A tribal man  occupies an important place in the socio-economic and political structure of her society. They exercise free and firm hand in all aspects related to their social and economic life. In India, the tribes are at different levels of economic development and in each, women have a significant role. The main ones are food gathering and hunting, shifted cultivation, cultivation of land by ploughing and regions. Where the tribal work in mining and other industries. Thus we see that the tribal man  in traditional social structure had an important role to play in tribal economy.

They are bone of the family economy. They are directly dependent on their immediate environments and their own skills in using it for the daily necessities of life (Rocheleau
1985). They play a major role in managing natural resources and their daily tasks make them the daily managers of the living environment.Most women in tribal areas draw upon their traditional and often extensive knowledge of the fauna and flora of their environment
and recognize the importance of preservation of species and sustainable utilization of the components of their eco-system.

Steps taken by Supreme Court of India on Environment issues.

The essence of a federal Constitution is the division of powers between the Central and State governments. This division is made by a written Constitution which is the Supreme Law of the Land. Since language of the Constitution is not free from ambiguities and its meaning is likely to be interpreted differently by different authorities at different times: it is natural that disputes might arise between the Centre and its constituent units regarding their respective powers.

The Supreme Court under India Constitution is such arbitration. It is the final interpreter and guardian of the Constitution. In addition to the above function of maintaining the supremacy of the Constitution the Supreme Court is also the guardian of the Fundamental Rights of the people. Truly the Supreme Court has been called upon to safeguard civil and minority rights and plays the role of guardian of the social revolution‖. It is the great tribunal which has to draw the line between individual liberty and social control. It is also the highest and final interpreter of the general law of the country. It is the highest court of appeal in civil and criminal matters.

SUPREME COURT on Environmental Problems And Ecological Development

The Supreme Court of India is the highest court; it played a major role in protection of environmental problems and ecological development in India right from its establishment. The role of Supreme Court in protecting the environment under various heads

The most important procedural innovation for environmental jurisprudence has been the relaxation of traditional process of standing in the Court and introducing the concept of Public Interest Litigation (PIL).

Until the early 1970s, litigation in India was in its rudimentary form because it was seen as a
pursuit for the vindication of private vested interests. During this time period, initiation and continuance of litigation was prerogative only to the individual aggrieved party. A complete change in the scenario in the 1980s with efforts taken by Justice P.N. Bhagwati and Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer was marked by attempts to bring wider issues affecting the general public at large within the ambit. The ambit and extent of PIL were expanded in 1980s from the initial prisoner rights concerns, to others like bonded labour, child labour, inmates of various asylums, ensuring the rights of the poor to education, to shelter and other essential amenities, sexual harassment of women at working place, preventing corruption in public offices, accountability of public servants, and utilization of public funds for development activities concept PIL, Criminal Law provisions as contained in the Indian Penal Code, Civil Law remedies under the law of Torts and provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code were existed to provide remedies for public nuisance cases including air, water and noise pollution. However, due to lack of people’s awareness about the environmental problems and limited knowledge of environmental laws there were problems in drawing the attention of the Court towards environmental problems. Again, there was no provision in the environmental legal framework for allowing the third party to seek the help of the Court if the party was not directly affected by environmental problems.

Hence, the biggest hurdle in the path of litigation for environmental justice had been the traditional concept of locus standi . Earlier when the third party approached the appellate Court for seeking relief against an injury they did not incur directly, the action was not maintainable as the appellate Court focused its attention on the identity of the petitioner rather than the subject of petition.

But now the Court’s approach has changed and it has been ruled that any member of the public having sufficient interest, may be allowed to initiate the legal process in order to assert diffused and meta-individual rights. Generally, in environmental litigation, the parties affected by pollution are a large, diffused and unidentified mass of people. Therefore, the question arises as to who ought to bring such cases to the Court’s notice where no personal injury, in particular, has been noticed.

In such situations, the Court has emphasized that any member of the public having sufficient interest may be allowed to initiate the legal process in order to assert diffused and meta-individual rights in environmental problems.

In recent years, there has been a sustained focus on the role played by the higher judiciary in devising and monitoring the implementation of measures for pollution control, conservation of forests and wildlife protection. Many of these judicial interventions have been triggered by the persistent incoherence in policy-making as well as the lack of  capacity-building among the executive agencies. Devices such as Public Interest Litigation (PIL) have been prominently relied upon to tackle environmental problems, and this approach has its supporters as well as critics. 

Anjali Dixit

(The author is an acting principal of S.B.S. Law College in Kapur, Uttar pradesh, India, She may be reached at anjalidixitlexamicus@gmail.com)

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