Positioning sustainable development as a people’s programme -the institutional response

Institutionalization and intervention strategies today have come to play a major role in the public discourse. This is a truism of environmental law especially in the third world which is trying to keep pace with the global economic development while also carrying the burden of environmental degradation heritage that was passed on by the unscrupulous development strategies, both indigenous and transnational. Developing countries today are increasingly indulging in redrafting their economic policies within the language of environmental conservation.

Thankfully in India, this redrafting has been conditioned by a conversation between the institutions of governance, the judiciary and most importantly organized groups of the public. Policies and policy implementation in India have been the results of this conversation.

My paper brings out instances of how such conversation can be an effective instrument in making sustainable development an achievable goal. Today in India environment and sustainable development have become a people’s programme which is not just aimed at drawing judicial attention but translating such judicial directions into achievable programmes. I highlight here an example of organized group activity making sustainable development not just a constitutional guarantee but a people’s movement for better life.

The judicial statement in Tarun Bharat Sangh Vs. Union of India (AIR 1992 SC 514) is a reflection of sustainable development becoming a campaign. The court said, “Litigation should not be treated as the usual adversarial litigation. Petitioners are acting in aid of a purpose high on the national agenda. Petitioners concern for the environment, ecology, and the wildlife should be shared by the government”. This statement sums up the philosophy of public life today, a conversation between the institutions in the society today.
Such conversation has a demonstrable effect in environmental policy today. Today the administrative policies are directed at insisting environmental audit of every economic activity.

S R Garimella
Osmania University, Hyderabad, India. faculty, Institute of Law and Management Studies, Gurgaon, India