Chief Justice disagrees with AG’s view on environment

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New Delhi, March 25 (IANS) There were disagreements between the government and judiciary on environment on Saturday at the World Conference on Environment-2017.

The conference, inaugurated by President Pranab Mukherjee here, focused on environment issues through a legal system.

Brushing aside the views of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi concerning Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ), Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar addressing the international conference said “construct what you wish but have in place regulations for environmental protection”.

CRZ is a 1991 notification under Environment Protection Act that regulates activities along India’s coastline.

The Attorney General shared his experiences in Maldives and pointed out vast tourism potential lost and diverted to countries like Thailand, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam to CRZ ruling that does not allow construction to at least 500 metres towards the land side.

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He also spoke of bringing the green court in the consultative process where the large projects are involved, to avoid losses later after huge investments.

Reacting to the views of Attorney General over CRZ, the Chief Justice said that environment is not about competition but about humanity at large.

“When the learned Attorney General, referred to the CRZ, and the comparison with tourist spots in India and other countries, it seems as if we were competing with somebody else… When a programme is sponsored by the government, it is well within the framework to draw a policy which will protect the environment… you may construct whatever you wish, but have in place regulations for environmental protection and no court can ever interfere with that,” the Chief Justice said.

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Justice Khehar, while also criticising the lack of commitment by the developed countries towards climate change and global climate negotiations, also said that their is possibility of interference when environment is altered.

“The policy of the govt, India and elsewhere has to be to allow development and industry but by taking due care of the environment. That’s the way forward,” he said.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley pointed out India’s commitment towards climate change, stating that despite needs the government has put heavy taxes on fossil fuel to deinsentivise it.

This is something that many countries had not done,” Jaitley said, adding the huge demand of development in terms of energy and infrastructure which is yet to reach millions across the nation.

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