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Case Comment: T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad v. Union of India, MANU / SC / 0028 / 2014 by M.Sakthivel

About the Author: Asst. Prof. M Sakthivel is an Assistant Professor at University School of Law and Legal Studies, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi

 Environmental Law is one of the important areas in which the Supreme Court of India has contributed a lot for the protection of all the spheres of environment by creating new jurisprudences which inter alia includes “Absolute Liability Doctrine”[1], Even the international aspects of the environmental laws such as precautionary principle, polluter pays principle and sustainable development[2] have also been incorporated. Even though these developments have been done by the Indian Judiciary, the real contributors are the non state actors such as NGOs[3], private organisations[4] and obviously the common man too. In this context, it is noteworthy to quote that T.N. Godavarman  Thirumulpad’s contribution for the protection of environment in this country is immense. By filing a considerable number of Public Interest Litigations (PIL), the green man intervened in various projects and ensured that proper balance is achieved in between the utilization of resources and the preservation of the same especially in the conservation of forest resources.[5]

In this regard, his new effort in the realm of forest conservation before the Supreme Court has resulted in a major blow to the central government’s decision to provide hasty clearances to the projects that are connected with environment. The Government of India has constituted a ‘Cabinet Committee on Investment’ last year for the purpose of exclusively dealing with the projects worth more than Rs.1000 crore.[6] The Idea behind the formation of this committee is to act as a single window facility which would facilitate the investors to obtain all types of clearances which would be required for beginning such a mega project including environmental clearances within a short span of time. However, it may not be a  decisive solution hereinafter because of the Apex Court’s direction to appoint a regulator so as to monitor and approve the environmental impact assessment (hereinafter, “EIA”) at the central as well as state level. Let us discuss the case in detail.

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