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The history of the evolution of law to handle pollution and other environmental problems in India can be studied under four periods;

I. In ancient India.

2.In Medieval India;

3. During the British period; and

4. The post Independence period. ..........

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION IN ANCIENT INDIA Forests, Wild_life, and more particularly trees were held in high esteem and held a lace of Special reverence in HINDU theology The Vedas, Puranas, Upanishads, and other scriptures of the Hindu religion gave a detailed description of trees, plants and wild life and their importance to the people. The Rigveda highlighted the potentialities of nature in controlling the climate, increasing fertility, and improvement of human life emphasizing intimate kinship with nature. A considered trees as the abode of various gods and goddesses. Yajur Veda emphasized that the relationship with nature and animals should not be that f dominion and subjugation but of mutual respect and kindness.

During the Vedic period, cutting of live trees was prohibited and punishment was prescribed for such acts. For example, Yajnayall6a, Smriti,, has declared cutting of trees and forests, as a punishable offence and has also prescribed a penalty of 20 to 10-Rani.2The Hindu society was thus conscious 'of adverse environmental effects caused by deforestation and the extinction of animal species. In Srimad Bhagavatam, it has been rightly pointed out that a man who with exclusive devotion offers respect to sky, water, earth, heavenly bodies, living beings, trees, rivers, and seas and all created being and considers -them as a part' of the body of the Lord attains_the state of supreme peace and God's grace. Yajnavalkya Smriti and Charak Samhita gave many instructions for the use of water for maintaining its purity.

In addition to forests and other components of nature, animals stood to human beings in a relationship of mutual respect and kindness. Ancient Hindu Scriptures strictly prohibited the Wing of birds and animals. In yajur veda , it is said that no person should kill animals, but being helpful to all and by serving them, should obtain happiness -In ' Yalhavalkya Smriti it is said that "the wicked persons who kills animals has. to live in Ghor Narak (hell-fire) for the days, equal to the number of hair on the body of t at–animal", In Vishnu Samhita, it is observed that "he who for his own pleasure, kills harmless beasts, should be regarded as dead in life; such a man shall know no happiness, here or hereafter. He who desists from inflicting pain on any animal either of death or confinement is really the well wisher of all the creatures such a man enjoys extreme felicity"

From the above, one can understand the enviromental protection has been an important facet of hindu way of life . It appears that the civilizations of Mohenjo Daro Harappa, And Dravdhani civilization lived in consonance with its eco-system and their small population and their needs maintained the harmony with the environment

The Mauryan period was perhaps the most glorious-chapter of the Indian History environmental. protection point of view. It was in this period that we find detailed and' Perceptive legal provision found in Kautalya Arthashaitra written between 321 BC _and 309.BC „ The necessity ,forest admistration " was realized in this period and the process Of administration was actually put into action with the appointment of superintendent of forest and the classification of forest on a functional basis. The-Sate assumed the functions 'of. Maintance Of forest regulation of forest produce and protection of wild life

Under the Arthashastra various panishments were prescribed for cutting trees, damaging forest and for killing animal deers, etc." For cutting the tender sprouts of trees in city parks that bore flowers or fruits or yielded shade, the fine was 6 panas , for cutting small branches 12 panas and for cutting stout branches 24 panas. For destroying trunk the. fine prescribed was the first amercement and for uprooting the tree The middle most amercement. Similarly, for cutting of plants which bore flowers or fruits or provided shade forests of hermits and trees or pilgrimage or of cremation grounds the fine imposed was half of the above fine. Whereas destruction of trees at the boundaries Or that were worshiped or in sanctuaries, entailed a penalty double the above fines

The superintendent of forest was authorised to cause forest produce to be brought in by–guards in produce-forests'; to establish factories for forest produce and fix adequate fines. and compensation for damage to any productive forests. Spies in the guise of traders were entrusted with a duty to ascertain the quantity and price of the royal merchandise obtained from forests.

With regard to protection of wiled life there were probation on killing of animals and birds. Tile–officer in charge (superintendent o slaughter house) was authorised to impose a fine upto 1000 panes on those who were found guilty of killing deers, birds and fish declared to be under state protection. Care was taken that animals from reserved parks or protected areas if found grazing in a field, were to be driven out without being hurt or killed, after intimating the forest officer. For causing injury to them, fine was imposed. Wild life in sanctuaries enjoyed complete protection from. being killed except when they turned harmful."

Arthshastra also precribed punishment for causing pollution and uncivic sanitation. It provided that the Officer in charge should punish those who threw-waste on the roads by 1/8th pana, for causing muddy water 1/4th pana and if both acts were committed, the punishment should be double. If faecal matter is thrown or caused to be piled up near temple, well or pond, Sacred place or state building, then the punishment was to increase'gradually by one pana in each case. For urinating 1;1 such places the punishment prescribed was half of the above punishments.'''

The environment conservation, as it existed during Mauryan period continued more or less unaltered in subsequent reigns until the end of Gupta empire in 673 A.D. prohibitions for forest destruction and animal killings were announced by other Hindu Kings. For, example, the King Ashoka. in Pillar edict had expressed his viewpoint about the welfare of creatures in his state. He prescribed various pecuniary punishments for killing animals, which included even ants, squirrels, parrots, red headed'ducks, pigeons, lizards and rats as well.'

To sum up ancient India had a philosophy of environmental management principally ensured in old injections as they were contained many scriptures and smrities abuse and exploitation of nature for immediate gains was considered unjust irreligious and against environmental ethics under the culture the environmental ethics of nature conversion were not only applicable to common man but also the ruler and they also bound king despite injunction in the scriptures and preaching of saints resource conversion was not taken very seriously as the natural resource under a common belief were considered to be inexhaustible and too formidable for man and his tools to need any protection themselves


From the point of law of environment conservation, a significant contribution of mogul emperors as been the establishment of magnificent gardens fruit orchard and green parks roundabout their palaces, central and provincial headquarter, public places, on the banks of the rivers and in the valley and dales which they used as a holiday retreat, places of retreat or temporary headquarters during the summer season._

Among the officials empowered for the administration of justice by the Sultans a d the emperors of India, `mutasibs (censor) were vested with the duty of prevention of pollution, His main duty among_other_was to remove obstructions. from the streets and_to,.stop the commission of nuisance in a public place, The instructions given to a newly appointed Muhtasib by the emperor ' Auranga-Zeb throws a flood of light on the functions of this officer: "In the bazaars and lanes observe if anyone, contrary to the regulations and customs, has screened off (abru) a part of the street, or closed the path or thrown dirt atilt sweepings on the road, or if anyone has seized the portion of the bazaar area reserved for public traffic and opened his shops there; you should in such cases urge them to remove the violation of regulations."

There is one opinion's that "the Moghul empire, were great lovers of nature and took delight in spending their spare time in the lap of the natural environment, made no 'attempts on forest conservation!!. ...

Another writer has observed that "To Moghul rulers, forests meant no more than wooded lands where they could hunt. To their governors, the forests were properties, which yielded some revenue. A few species of trees were specified in their reign as 'royal trees' and enjoyed patronage from being cut except upon a fee. There was, however, no restriction on cutting other trees. In the absence of any protective management, forests during this period shrunk steadily in size on account of felling made for cultivation both shifting and-settled ."

As regards the position of the forest economy during the Mughal. Empire the rural communities by enjoyed untrammeled-Use Of forest and other natural resources however did not mean that they, use of forest and other" natural resources, however; did not mean that they could be used or misused by one and all without any restrain Rather they were quiet effectively managed with the help of a complex range of rules and regulations woven around the socio-cultural features as well as., the. Economic activities of local communities.'



The early days of British rule in India were days of plunder of natural; resources. There was a total indifference "The needs of forest conservancy. They caused a "fierce onslaught" On the Indien' forests. The onslaught on. the forest was mainly due to the increasing demands of milnilitary_puposes, for the British navy, for local construction (such as roads and railways), supply of teak and sandalwood for export trade, and extension of agriculture in order to augment revenue.

The British Government started to exercise control over forests in the year 1801 when a commission was appointed to enquire into the availability of Malabar and Travancore by way of appointment Conservator of Forests This move failed to conserve forests as the appointed conservator plundered the forest wealth instead of conserving it. Consequently, the post of conservator of the forest was abolished in the year 1823,

The second half of the 19th century marked the beginning of organized forest management in India with some administrative steps taken to conserve forest the formulation of forest policy and the legislations to implement the policy decision the systematic management of forest resources began with the appointment of the first Inspector General of Forest in,1864. Dietrich Brandis was the first Inspector general of the forest. Protection of forest department under the supervision of Inspector General was that of exploration of resources, demarcation of reserves, protection of forest from fire and assessment of the growing stock in Valuable reserve by sample enumeration and prescription of yields which could be sustained: The objective -of management of forests thus changed from obtaining of timber for various-purposes to protecting and improving forests ant treating them as a biological growing entity.

The first step of the British overturned to assess state monopoly right over the forest was The were closed to the people and by empowering the forest administration to impose penalties for an) transgression of the provision of the Act,

The British Government declared its first Forest Policy by a resolution on the 19th October 1884.

The policy statement had the following objectives:

1. Promoting the general well-being of the people in the country;

2. Preserving climatic and physical conditions in the country; and

3. Fulfilling the need of the people.

The policy also suggested a rough functional classification of the forest into the following four categories;

1. Forests, the preservation of which was essential on climatic or physical grounds;

2. Forests which offered a supply of valuable timber for commercial purposes;

3. Minor forests which produced only the inferior sorts of timber; and

4. Pastures which were forests only in name.

To implement the Forest Policy of 1884, the Forest Act of 1927 was enacted.

The implementation of the forest policy of 1884. the forest act of 1927 was enacted this act is very comprehensive and continued all the major provisions of the earlier act and the amendment made there to including those relating to the duty on timber .the act of 1927 also embodies land use policy where by the British could acquire all forest land village forest and other common property resource .

This Act is still in_force, together with several amendments made by the State Governments.

Till 1935, the Government of India enacted the Forest Acts. In 1935 the British Parliament, through the Government of India Act 1935 created provincial legislatures and the subject of the forest was included provincial legislative list. Thereafter, several provinces make their own...laws to regulate forests. Most of these laws were within the framework lockdown in the 1927 Act. Apart from the management of forest resources the British Government also concentrated on certain other areas like water pollution, air_pollution, wildlife, and land use by..enacting numerous legislations: — The Shore Nuisance (Bombay and Kolaba) Act of 1853, Oriental Gas Company. Act, 1857, the Indian Penal Code, 1860, the Indian Easement Act of 1862, Indian Fisheries Act, 1897 were some of the important legislation made by the. British Government. These legislations contained provisions for the regulation of water provision and also prescribed punishments for the violation of these legislations.

The British Government for controlling Air Pollution enacted the Bengal smoke Nuisance Act of 1905, and the Bombay-Smoke Nuisance Act of 1912.

Likewise, for protection...wildlife–the British Government made certain legislations. In 1873, We the Madras Government enacted the first wildlife statute for the protection of wild elephants. The Elephants Preservation Act Of 1879, the Wild Birds and Animals Protection Act of, 1912 and the Forest Act of 1927 were other, legislation that aimed at the conservation of biodiversity.

From the above it is clear that legislative measures were taken by the British Government for the prevention, of pollution and for conservative Though the critics point out that the British enacted these legislations not with the object of _protecting the environment but with the aim of earning revenue for themselves, it should be regarded as the first step towards conservation of natural resources. Though made with ulterior motives this legislation has contributed significantly to the growth of environmental jurisprudence. India.


The post independence era witnessed a lot of changes in the policies and attitudes of the Governments with respect to environmental protection, The Constitution of India, which came into force on 26th January...1950. had few provisions regarding environmental management.

Article 39(b). provides that "the State shall direct its policy towards securing that the owners-flip and control of the material resources of the community are so distributed as best to sub serve the common good"-

Article-47.provides that the State shall regard the rising of the level of nutrition and the-standard of living of its people and the improvement of public health as __among its primary duties.

Article-48.directs that "the State shall endeavour to organize agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and take steps for preserving and improving the breeds and prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch mid draught cattle.

Article-49....directs that "it shall be The obligation of the State to protect every monument or place or object of artistic or historic interest, declared to be of na-tional importance, from spoliation, disfigurement, destruction, removal, disposal or export as the case may be".

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