24 Jul Empowering nature with biocentric jurisprudence (The Hindu, GS-3, Environment)
Posted at 24 Jul 2021 in Current Affairs, Environment and climate change, GS Paper III 0 Comments
Context:- The Great Indian Bustard with hardly about 200 alive in India today which are critically endangered under the IUCN red list, came under the protective wings of the Supreme Court of India in a recent judgment. The Supreme Court in M.K. Ranjitsinh & Others vs Union of India said that where the overhead lines in power projects exist the governments of Rajasthan and Gujarat should take steps to install bird diverters or consider changing of overhead cables into underground power lines.
What is Great Indian Bustard:-
- Great Indian Bustard are the largest among the four bustard species found in India
- Great Indian Bustard prefer grasslands as their habitats
- Great Indian Bustard spend most of their time on the ground with occasional flights to go from one part of their habitat to the other.
- Great Indian Bustards feed on insects, lizards, grass seeds etc.
- GIB is under appendix 1 under United Nations Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS).
- The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has categorised the Great Indian Bustard as critically endangered species.
Why are GIBs under threat?
- Wildlife Institute of India (WII) said that overhead power transmission lines were the biggest threat to the GIBs.
- GIBs have poor frontal vision and because of this they can’t detect power lines in time and their weight make in-flight quick manoeuvres difficult.
- Installation of windmills and construction of power lines even in core GIB areas are the major threat.
- Fragmentation of habitat by encroachment etc.
- Change in landscape by farmers for increase in cultivating land, which otherwise used to remain fallow due to frequent droughts in Kutch.
How we are protecting this species:-
- This species is included in the 1st schedule of wildlife protection act 1972.
- It is included in CMS convention under appendix 1.
- It is also included under CITES convention.
- Wildlife conservation board has taken exclusive note of this species.
- Wildlife crime record bureau is taking this species to the foremost.
- M.K. Ranjitsinh & Others vs Union of India case supreme court has directed the state government to take precautionary actions regarding power transmission lines.
What is constitutional angle:-
- Article 48 A which was included by 42nd constitutional amendment act says protection of environment.
- To have good environment and preserve biodiversity is included under article 21 and also in the fundamental duties.
At international level:-
- ‘Snail darter’ case in the United States. :-
- Etnier, who was a biologist, contended that the snail darter was an endangered species and that its existence was gravely threatened by the continuation of the Tellico Reservoir project. The Supreme Court of the United States of America in that particular case said that the “Snail darter” was a specifically protected species under the National Environmental Policy Act and the executive could not proceed with the reservoir project.
The Past experience regarding conservation at international level:-
- About 15 to 20 species of Lemurs around 2,000 years ago which are primates have become extinct.
- We have never seen an unprecedented degradation of habitat as we have seen currently.
- 37,400 species that are gravely endangered under IUCN redlist.
An ethical debate:-
Biocentrism Vs Anthropocentrism:-
- Biocentrism often comes into conflict with anthropocentrism Where Anthropocentrism emphasises that of all the species on earth humans are the most significant and that all other resources on earth may be justifiably exploited for the benefit of human beings.
- Ecuador became the first country in the world in September 2008 to recognise “Rights of Nature” in its Constitution such rights we should include too.
- M.K. Ranjithsinh case supreme court said that the biocentric principles of coexistence is a shot in the arm for nature conservation.