Why do we Need Environmental laws?


You may be aware of being born into a family, a system, a social and political order but have you ever given a serious thought to how you are born into an environment? Yes, we all inherit an environment by virtue of our life on the planet and the state in which it is available to us is ensured by the collaborated activities of our ancestors. We too are burdened with a similar kind of onus as how we choose to treat our environment will determine the quality of life for our descendants. Now we can all afford to act selfish giving minimal thought to how we shape our environment, given this is too trivial to be part of our daily concerns and it is also a matter of individual preference. It is then that it inevitably becomes the job of the civil society to take upon the responsibility of ensuring a healthy environment and thus we are provided with a range of environmental laws, some resulting from protests and some out of necessity.

Some of these environmental laws are a product of the state’s responsibility towards ensuring an equal standard of living for all. Some of them yet are out of concern for the helpless creatures that are left at our mercy. The others are mainly the result of the kind of effect that our activities have on our home planet and the atmosphere we are protected with. Time and again how we choose to utilize Earth’s resources and manage the affairs of our daily lives have exposed the planet to the most devastating of scenarios where the atmosphere it uses to sustain the life on the planet has been tampered with. The obsession with mining has over the years handed out to us a list of adverse environmental affects including erosion, sinkholes, reduced biodiversity, earthquakes etc. Steps have also been taken to preserve the biodiversity of the planet as in our pursuit of constantly dreaming of an empire we have successfully encroached upon, land, sea, small water bodies, forest, rivers, and the habitats of various species. We might choose to not care for the variety of animal inhabiting the planet with us if they do not immediately affect our present or future but you do have to care for the ecosystem and how it works. The ecosystem being one of the most pathetic examples you can uphold in front of people in order to make them care but this is what it has come down to.


As one of the most advanced species and a miracle of evolution, we can choose to dominate over the planet embracing the theory of survival of the fittest but there happens to be no sound logic in showing such futile valour as it is a recipe for our own doomsday. The way we have dealt with the nature has subjected us to a number of health conditions, true, but it is only a subtle alarm for what we must have left of the nature. The adverse effects of the degraded quality of life on the planet is not something we feel alone as human beings but from every fish in the ocean to the Bengal tigers in the Sunderbans, they all share our story as we continue to destroy the charismatic powers of the nature to have it transformed into a barren land with large buildings staring blankly into emptiness.

Our exploitation of the resources extends to a point where we have rendered the word ‘natural’ absolutely meaningless, bringing in a new word to dethrone whatever was essential about the environment and the word of our time is ‘organic’. This is how powerfully we have continued to destroy whatever we have been granted, in the name of bettering ourselves armed with a band of modern facilities, chopped and hammered to fit under the description of ‘sophistication’.

The chemicals, trash dumping, untreated factory waste, industrial, agricultural and residential waste; nonpoint source pollution can all be credited to have together invented the word marine pollution which has resulted in the degradation of the oceans. Water pollution because of similar reasons and innumerable accompanied factors have created the ideal condition for a drinking water crisis all over the world with many predicting that the next big war will be fought on the availability of fresh water. The solid and liquid pollution on land and underground has contaminated the soil and the groundwater too. The air that you breathe itself can threaten you with such a good number of deadly conditions that you would wish you were dead. This is the reality that forced Nobel Laureate, Amartya Sen to conclude the phenomenon as ‘killing in disguise’. At this point, it should not even be necessary to uphold the damage to ecosystem because I assure you that the entire system needs a huge rethinking with many of the participants of the food chain or pyramid, extinct or on their way to extinction. It is being difficult to ensure the survival of the forests without empowering them with laws to defend themselves and yet they are being cleared out. Multiple cases of wood smuggling and animal hunting are only a mundane litany on newspapers.

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This is the appalling description of why need environmental laws on environment protection, public liability, biomedical waste, hazardous waste, biological diversity, protected areas, rivers, fisheries, factories, atomic energy, motor vehicles etc., knowing well that there is still very little we can do to save or pacify the already worsened situation.


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