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Introduction and Meaning of Environment Law

The ‘Environment’ is very important for us to understand because it constitutes our surroundings and affects our ability to live on the earth. It comprises of the air we breathe, the water that covers most of the earth’s surface, the plants and animals around us, and much more. It is therefore, very important to understand and appreciate the importance of ‘environment’ in our daily life. In recent years, scientists have been carefully examining the various ways by which people affect the ‘Environment’. They have found that we are causing air pollution, deforestation, acid rain, and other problems that are dangerous both to the earth and to ourselves.

Human development has generally been parasitic on the environment because there is fundamental interdependence between environment, the physical, biological and social surroundings and their interactions, that sustain all life forms. When the integrity of the planet’s ecosystems suffered imbalance, human insecurity increases.

There is a close relationship between environment and life. Destruction of environment leads to destruction of all living creatures including human beings. Over production, over exploitation of resources, nuclear radiations, industrial wastes, industrial accidents, brutal exploitation of forests, indiscriminate quarrying, pollution of rivers and water resources, rapid increase of air and noise pollution are the contributing factors for environmental degradation.

Global warming, ozone depletion and pollution are some of the negative effects of existing development strategy, which badly affect the human life. The notion of development should be to protect soils, animals, forests, human health and the atmosphere but not mere insistence on progress of development. Therefore, there is a need to identify a development that promotes both ecological development and international viability.

You may have heard of laws, rules and regulations to deal with the above mentioned situations. The Government in the last few decades has shown keen interest in protecting and promoting the environment and consequently enacted various Environmental Laws.

This lesson aims at discussing the details about the environment and its degradation with special reference to environmental pollution.The lesson further focuses on the laws pertaining to the protection of environment from pollution and other environmental issues. The discussion is also on other environment related issues.

Meaning of Environment

The word ‘environment’ is derived from the French word ‘environner’, which means ‘to encircle’ or to surround. The most suitable definition of environment is as follows: It is the sum total of water, air and land and the interrelationships that exist among them with human beings, other living organisms and materials.

The geographical meaning of environment is as follows: It is a combination of living and non-living things and their mutual interaction with each other which leads to an ecosystem.

The environment encompasses all living and non-living things occurring naturally on earth. The Honourable Supreme Court has the following definition of ‘environment’: “Environment” is a difficult word to define. Its normal meaning relates to the surroundings, but obviously, that is a concept which is relatable to whatever object it is, which is surrounded. Environment is a polycentric and multifaceted problem affecting the human existence.

Environmental law or “environmental and natural resources law” is a collective term describing the network of treaties, statutes, regulations and customary laws addressing the effects of human activity on the natural environment.

Today protection of ‘environment’ is a global issue as it concerns all countries irrespective of their size, stage or development or ideology. Today, the interaction between society and nature is so extensive that the question of environment has assumed large proportions, affecting humanity at large.

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