VELLORE CITIZENS WELFARE FORUM v. UNION OF INDIA and OTHERS
DATE OF JUDGEMENT: 28/08/1996
COURT: Supreme Court of India
JUDGES: KULDIP SINGH, FAIZAN UDDIN, K. VENKATASWAMIT, JJJ
Petitioner: Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum
Respondents: Union Of India & Others
In this case a petition was filed against contamination which was caused by the release of untreated effluent by tanneries and other businesses into agricultural areas, street sides, waterways and open lands, and into the river Palar which is the source of water supply to the inhabitants of the region. This is a leading case in which the Apex Court basically analyzed the relationship between environment and development.
The petitioner filed a Public Interest Case under Article 32 of Indian Constitution. Petition was filed against the huge scale contamination caused to Stream Palar due to the release of untreated effluents by the tanneries and other businesses within the State of Tamil Nadu. The water of Stream Palar is the main source of drinking and washing water for the individuals living around. The Tamil Nadu Agricultural College Research Centre, Vellore found that about 35,000 hectares of rural land has ended up either completely or somewhat unfit for cultivation.
The Constitution Of India:
- Article 32(1): The right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred by this Part is guaranteed
- Public Interest Litigation
The Environment (Protection) Act,, 1986:
- Section 3(3)
THE WATER (PREVENTION & CONTROL OF POLLUTION) ACT, 1974:
- Section 45A: Penalty for Contravention of Certain Provisions of the Act.
- Sustainable Development
- Polluter pays principle
- Precautionary principle
1) The question which emerged for consideration was whether the tanneries ought to be permitted to proceed to function at the cost of lives of lakhs of people.
Contentions raised by the petitioners:
- It was presented by the petitioner that the total surface and sub-soil water of stream Palar has been intoxicated and has brought about non-accessibility of consumable water to the tenants of the region.
- The tanneries within the State of Tamil Nadu have caused environmental degradation within the area.
- A study reveals that 350 well out of an total of 467 utilized for drinking and water framework purposes have been contaminated.
Contentions raised by the respondent:
- The primary contention was that the standard with regard to Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) settled by the Board was not legitimized.
- The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MEF) has not totally set down models for inland surface water discharge for TDS, sulfates, and chlorides.
Decision and Reasoning:
The court directed all the Tanneries to deposit a sum of Rs. 10,000 as fine within the office of Collector. The Court further directed the State of Tamil Nadu to grant Mr. M. C. Mehta with a sum of Rs. 50,000 as appreciation towards his endeavors for assurance of Environment. The Court in this case emphasized on the constitution of Green tribunal in India dealing particularly with things relating to environment security additionally for rapid and quick transfer of natural cases.
The Apex Court delivered its judgment making all endeavors to preserve harmony between environment and development. The Court conceded that these Tanneries in India are the major foreign trade earner and additionally give business to many individuals. But at the same time, it devastates the environment and postures a health risk to everyone.