Apr 2023

The Green Mandate Season 2, Ep. 2: Public Participation in Environmental Decision Making with Prafulla Samantara

Tuesday, 18 Apr 2023, 5:30 pm-Tuesday, 18 Apr 2023, 7:00 pm
The Green Mandate Season 2, Episode 2: Public Participation in Environmental Decision Making with Prafulla Samantara

The Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy and National Law University, Odisha invites you to the second episode of season 2 of THE GREEN MANDATE on ‘Public Participation in Environmental Decision Making’ in conversation with noted environmental and socio-political activist Prafulla Samantara. The conversation will take place at the Seminar Hall, Academic Block, National Law University Odisha, in Cuttack, Odisha on 18th April 2023 from 5.30 PM IST.

About the Discussion 

Public participation in environmental decision-making is a critical aspect of sustainable development and Environmental Rule of Law .  In India, public participation has been enshrined in several laws and regulations that require consultation with communities and stakeholders before making decisions that impact the environment. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2006, the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010, and the Right to Information Act, 2005 are some of the significant legal instruments that provide a framework for public participation in environmental decision-making.

The EIA notification requires that project proponents provide information about their projects to the public and solicit comments and objections before the project can be approved. The National Green Tribunal Act empowers citizens to file petitions against environmental violations, and the Right to Information Act provides citizens with access to information about environmental decision-making processes. The Forest Rights Act  recognizes the rights of the forest dwelling tribal communities and other traditional forest dwellers, and mandates consent from Gram Sabha for forest clearances. However, despite these legal provisions, public participation in environmental decision-making in India faces several challenges. 

One of the critical aspects of public participation in environmental decision-making is that it allows for integrating local knowledge and perspectives into decision-making processes. This is especially important in India, where there is a rich tradition of local knowledge and practices related to the environment. By incorporating this local knowledge and expertise, decision-makers can make more informed decisions considering the unique context and needs of different communities. When people feel that their voices are being heard and their concerns are taken seriously, they are more likely to trust the decisions made by the governments. This can help foster greater social cohesion and a stronger sense of community.

In the second episode of season 2 of The Green Mandate, Debadityo Sinha, Lead, (Climate & Ecosystems), Vidhi will be in conversation with renowned environmental activist and recipient of Goldman Awardee Prafulla Samantara, and try to understand the different nuances of public participation in environmental decision making in India.

About the Speaker

Mr Prafulla Samantara is the president of Lok Shakti Abhiyan, a People’s Forum which campaigns for sustainable development, the right to livelihood, and protection and conservation of natural resources against unmindful industrialization. A recipient of Goldman Prize (popularly known as Green Nobel Prize) in 2017, Prafulla Samantara has over four decades of experience in environmental and socio-political activism.  

Mr Samantara’s activism for democracy and fundamental rights dates back to 1976 as a student leader when he was imprisoned during the National Emergency. Brought up in a farmers family and trained in law, Mr Samantara committed himself to ensure indigenous people’s voices are accounted for in planning of big developmental projects. He is best known for his contribution to the legal battle supporting the indigenous tribe Dongria Kondh, in their protest against a mining proposal in the Niyamgiri hill range of Odisha since 2003. In a landmark ruling on April 18, 2013, the Supreme Court granted local communities the authority to make the final decision on mining ventures on their land. As a result, village councils from Niyamgiri Hills were given the opportunity to vote on the mine, and all 12 tribal village councils had voted unanimously against the project by August of that year. After several years of intermittent operation and shutdowns, the project proponent announced the closure of an aluminium refinery it had constructed in preparation for the mine’s commencement in August 2015. 

About The Green Mandate 

THE GREEN MANDATE provides a platform for an in-depth conversation on such issues affecting current conservation challenges. It aims at developing a deeper public discourse on the law and policy aspects of it. (Watch previous discussions of The Green Mandate here). 

The Climate and Ecosystems team at Vidhi is supported by Rainmatter Foundation and Sandeep Singhal. 


18th April 2023, Tuesday, 17.30-19.00 HRS (IST)

Seminar Hall, Academic Block, National Law University Odisha, Cuttack 

17.30 hrs: Introduction of the event by Shailee Basu

17.35 hrs: Introductory talk on ‘Environmental Rule of Law and Public Participation’ by Dr Sujith Koonan Associate Professor of Law at National Law University, Odisha

17.50 hrs: Discussion with Prafulla Samantara moderated by Debadityo Sinha

18.35 hrs: Q&A Session with Audience

18.55 hrs: Vote of Thanks

The event is open for all, but prior registration is recommended. Fill the form below to RSVP. The event will not be live-streamed.