Mohali, May 7
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu today called for collective action by the people, as well as enabling policies, to limit the impact of climate change. “To be able to reach the global warming limit of 1.5°C, we need to target both macro-level systemic changes and micro-level lifestyle choices. We need a grassroots movement for environmental protection,” he said.
Calling for serious introspection and bold actions to mitigate the reality of increasing extreme events and decreasing biodiversity, Naidu said, “It is not only the duty of the government to deliberate, but also to every citizen and human being on earth to save this planet”. .
The Vice President was addressing the audience after inaugurating the International Conference on Environmental Diversity and Environmental Jurisprudence at the University of Chandigarh here. Naidu pointed out that India has always led the world in climate action. He reiterated India’s commitment to achieving the ambitious national targets set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the COP26 summit in Glasgow recently.
Referring to how Indian culture has always worshiped and worshiped nature, Naidu said India enshrined environmental protection principles in the Constitution and passed many related laws “even before the environmental discourse gain momentum in the developed world”. “This spirit draws heavily from our ancient values that view human existence as part of the natural environment and not as part that exploits it,” he added.
Furthermore, Naidu stressed the need for honest implementation of laws, suggesting that “passing laws alone is not enough, strict action against violators is equally important.” He suggested equipping local pollution control boards and civic bodies with the resources, technical expertise and punitive powers to effectively implement environmental laws. Noting that the Constitution empowers the Gram Panchayats in water management, soil conservation and forestry, he called for better allocation of funds for this purpose. “The effective functioning of basic organs is essential to meet the climate challenges of today and tomorrow,” he stressed. Highlighting the contributions of the National Green Tribunal, Naidu noted that with the growing demand for environmental litigation, there was an urgent need to train more lawyers in environmental law. In this regard, the Vice President called for raising awareness of the poorest sections of their rights and bringing environmental justice closer to the needy. He suggested creating more specialized environmental benches in various parts of the country, if necessary.
Banwarilal Purohit, Governor of Punjab; Justice Surya Kant, Justice, Supreme Court; Justice Bhushan Ramkrishna Gavai, Justice, Supreme Court; Judge Antonio Herman Benjamin, Judge at the National High Court of Brazil; Justice Mohammad Rafiq, Chief Justice, High Court of Himachal Pradesh; Shombi Sharp, United Nations Resident Coordinator in India; Former Supreme Court Justice Justice Swatanter Kumar and other dignitaries were present at the event.
Strictly apply the “polluter must pay” standard
Praising the upper judiciary for supporting environmental justice over the years, he suggested that “lower courts must also uphold an ecocentric view and keep the best interests of local people and biodiversity in their judgments”. He called for tough action against violators of pollution laws and strict enforcement of the “polluter must pay” principle.