Courting the Environment
Tracking environmental justice on ground
Summary: Through documentaries and case briefs, Vidhi tracks the implementation of five landmark judgments of the Supreme Court of India and the National Green Tribunal on environmental protection.
The Supreme Court of India has a stellar track record on environmental protection. It is credited with taking important steps to clean Delhi’s air, protecting the Taj Mahal from industrial pollution, preserving forests and halting polluting activities in the Ganga. However, the life of environmental law exists beyond the courtroom and case books. While the recognition of important environmental principles as part of the law of the land is the first step towards environmental protection, we would be failing in our duty as environmental lawyers, activists and academics if we did not scrutinise the practical implementation of these principles. We must examine whether there is compliance with the Court’s orders and directions, and if not, identify and address the reasons for this.
With this objective, the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy has been tracking the implementation of five landmark judgments of the Supreme Court of India and the National Green Tribunal (‘NGT’) on environmental protection. These judgments span different geographical areas-the rivers of Uttarakhand, industrial areas in Telangana, rhinoceros territory in Assam, and toxic air and landfills in Delhi. They also span different environmental issues-ecological threats posed by dams, the efficacy of effluent treatment plants, wildlife conservation, air pollution, and waste management. Through a combination of field research, judgment analysis, and interviews with petitioners, lawyers, and other stakeholders, Vidhi has produced a set of five documentaries and a research report that provide a comprehensive overview of environmental judgments and their implementation on the ground.
Together, these briefs and documentaries provide the legal background for each case, present the key facts, summarise the major orders and directions of the Supreme Court and NGT, and discuss the degree of success with which these have been implemented.
1.‘HARI PHULJHARI’: Firecrackers Ban in Delhi
‘Hari Phuljhari’ is a deep dive into the implementation of the Supreme Court’s orders regulating the manufacture and use of firecrackers.
i. Delhi: ‘Ad hoc solutions won’t help, strong political will needed to fight bad air’, Times of India (25 November 2020)
ii. Choked: Hari Phuljhari, a documentary film, analyses air pollution through the firecracker ban in Delhi, Gaon Connection English (13 November 2020)
iii. Opinion: This Diwali, let’s just be selfish! Citizen Matters (13 November 2020)
iv. Delhi Pollution Crisis: Vidhi Centre’s Documentary Shows Why Supreme Court Judgment Failed on Ground Level Implementation, The Leaflet (17 November 2020)
2. ‘AN UNEQUAL FIGHT’: Industrial Pollution in Patancheru
‘An Unequal Fight’ tracks one of India’s oldest environmental cases involving pollution by bulk drug manufacturing industries in Patancheru and Bollaram area in Telangana.
i. Hyderabad: Film highlights pollution in Patancheru, The Hans India (4 December 2020)
ii. Documentary highlights the effect of pollution from Patancheru-Bollaram cluster, The New Indian Express (3 December 2020)
3. ‘MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY’: Protection of Wildlife Corridors in Kaziranga
‘My Way or the Highway’ traces the impact of various judicial interventions related to the protection of wildlife corridors in Kaziranga landscape in Assam.
4. ‘Ladenge Jeetenge’: Dams in Uttarakhand
‘Ladenge Jeetenge’ tracks the implementation of judicial orders related to hydropower projects in Uttarakhand.
5. ‘Garbage Matters’: Solid waste Management in Delhi
‘Garbage Matter’ looks into judicial interventions involving solid waste management issues in Delhi.
“ENVIRONMENT & JUDICIARY”
(A Photo Essay)