Yubaraj Kandel

Mr. Kadel has been working in the field of environment and development for two decades. Currently, he is a Ph.D. Scholar at LBU.

Environmental rights are the right to live and to be able to use natural resources equitably for social and economic prosperity and to live in a clean environment, to be compensated for the damage caused by environmental destruction. Although the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, which is considered the first international basis of modern human rights, does not specifically mention environmental rights, Article 25 (1) states that every person has the right to a sufficient standard of living for the health and well-being of himself and his family. This seems to indicate the right to a clean environment.

Although the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966, advocated for the right to life and the right to a healthy life. The International Conference on the Environment in Stockholm in 1972 drew the attention of the international community to the issue of environmental rights.  The conference emphasized the fundamental right to live and enjoy the right environment for the prosperity of life. The Rio Declaration, issued by the Earth Summit in 1992, does not mention the right to the environment, but the national right to exploit the environment and the right to sustainable development was addressed.  The conference emphasized that the use of natural resources by the present generation should not interfere with the needs of future generations. This definition of sustainable development seems to cover a wide range of environmental rights.

Although the laws related to environmental protection have been in force in Nepal since the Rana period, the Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal 2047 has addressed the environment constitutionally. Article 26 of the constitution states that the state will give priority to protecting the environment by raising awareness among the people about environmental hygiene and preventing adverse effects on the environment through physical development activities. To support this constitutional provision, B.Sc. After 2047, many laws related to environmental protection and natural resource management were made in Nepal. At the same time, in the case against Godavari Marvel, the Supreme Court had given an important decision for the environmental rights on October 31, 1995. "As clean and healthy environment is a part of the totality of life in this decision, the right to clean and healthy environment is also included in the right to life. Since the creation of a polluted environment leads to the abduction of human life, the existence of law is indispensable for the proper provision of environmental crimes and punishments."  It was mentioned in the decision.  As the Supreme Court issued a directive order in the name of the government by this decision, the Nepal government had prepared and implemented the Environmental Protection Act 2053.

The Environment Protection Act 2053 has been amended in time and now the Environment Protection Act 2076 has been implemented. This is the main law made to protect the fundamental right of citizens to live in a clean environment, to prevent pollution, to punish polluters, and to compensate victims. Article 15 of this Act prohibits any person from creating pollution in a manner that could have a significant adverse effect on the environment or endangers the life and public health, and if any such act is found to have a significant adverse effect on the environment, the concerned body shall impose necessary conditions. Arrangements have been made to stop it. Article 36 of the same act provides for compensation from the polluter if any person or organization suffers any loss due to the pollution caused by the polluter. This legal provision seems to seek to make polluters responsible for pollution and protect victims' environmental rights.

The Constitution of Nepal 2072 BS has made provisions for environmental rights under fundamental rights. Article 16 (1) of the Constitution of Nepal states that every person shall have the right to live with dignity. The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers in the case against Shiva Prasad Poudel that the right to live with dignity does not only mean the existence of human beings but also the right to live in a pollution-free environment while enjoying all kinds of fundamental and human rights. Explained on the 19th (NKP 2070, Issue 7 Decision No. 9030). Similarly, Article 30 (1) of the Constitution of Nepal 2072 states that every person has the right to live in a clean environment and Article 34 (4) states that every citizen has the right to access to clean drinking water and sanitation. This constitutional provision confirms that it is the fundamental right of every Nepalese citizen to live in a clean environment free from pollution.

It is the responsibility of the state to ensure the environmental rights of its citizens. Article 51 of the Constitution of Nepal 2072 states that the state will adopt a policy to reduce the risks to the environment from industrial and physical development and to adopt the principle of sustainable development by raising public awareness of environmental hygiene. Even in the directive decisions of the Supreme Court in the name of the government on various issues, it is mentioned that the government has the main responsibility to protect the environmental rights of the citizens. Although the state has made commitments in more than two dozen international conventions and conventions to protect the environmental rights of citizens and has implemented the Environmental Protection Act, its implementation has been very weak. There is a constitutional provision (Article 30 (2) of the Constitution of Nepal 2072) that the victim will have the right to get compensation from the polluter according to the law for the damage caused by environmental pollution or degradation. Similarly, it has been 26 years since the enactment of the Environmental Protection Act, which provides for compensation from perpetrators or polluters for environmental pollution or violation of environmental rights. Even though the law has been enacted for such a long time, it has not been possible to establish a body to monitor and compensate for the violation of environmental rights. Even the National Human Rights Commission, which was formed to protect human rights in Nepal, does not seem to be concerned about environmental rights violations.

Essential resources such as water, land, and forest have been handed over to certain groups and classes for development and prosperity and such groups have been engaged in uncontrolled mining and exploitation of resources by restricting the common man. As the state carries out development works in an unscientific manner and promotes conservation programs without taking into account the indigenous nature of the resources, the problems of the communities close to the natural resources not being able to consume such resources or access to the resources are increasing. There is now a long-running legal battle for equitable access to natural resources and control of environmental pollution. In such a situation, the issue of getting compensation for violation of environmental rights has become like the fruit of the sky.

A healthy environment, access to natural resources, and equitable distribution of natural resources are issues of basic environmental rights. Without these rights, the availability of other human rights would be meaningless. The state has made provisions for environmental rights in the constitution and law. However, due to the habit of tolerating the obstruction of the right to use natural resources and to live in a clean environment, a limited number of individuals and groups in Nepal are exploiting the environmental resources and the citizens are struggling to survive. To end this situation, all citizens should develop the habit of not tolerating environmental pollution and exploitation of natural resources and seeking environmental rights. If the right to life as a human being is not exercised then other rights can never be exercised. Everyone needs to pay attention to this.


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यदि तपाईंसँग कुनै लेखरचना वा मूलधारका मिडियाबाट किनारीकृत मुद्दा तथा विषयहरू छन् भने हामीलाई [email protected] मा पठाउनुहोस् ।

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