M K Ranjitsinh vs Union of India 2024 INSC 280 – Great Indian Bustard – Environment

Summary: Vide order dated 19 April 2021, restrictions were imposed on the setting up of overhead transmission lines in a large swath of territory of about 99,000 square kilometres – Modifying the said order, SC observed: A blanket direction for undergrounding high voltage and low voltage power lines of the nature that was directed by this Court would need recalibration- Expert Committe constituted – Experts can assess the feasibility of undergrounding power lines in specific areas, considering factors such as terrain, population density, and infrastructure requirements. This approach allows for more nuanced decision-making tailored to the unique circumstances of each location, ensuring that conservation objectives are met in a sustainable manner. (Para 62)

Climate Change – There is a right to be free from the adverse effects of climate change. It is important to note that while giving effect to this right, courts must be alive to other rights of affected communities such as the right against displacement and allied rights- States owe a duty of care to citizens to prevent harm and to ensure overall well-being. The right to a healthy and clean environment is undoubtedly a part of this duty of care. States are compelled to take effective measures to mitigate climate change and ensure that all individuals have the necessary capacity to adapt to the climate crisis – It is imperative for states like India, to uphold their obligations under international law, including their responsibilities to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to climate impacts, and protect the fundamental rights of all individuals to live in a healthy and sustainable environment. (Para 27-35)

Solar Energy– It is imperative for India to not only find alternatives to coal-based fuels but also secure its energy demands in a sustainable manner. India urgently needs to shift to solar power due to three impending issues. Firstly, India is likely to account for 25% of global energy demand growth over the next two decades, necessitating a move towards solar for enhanced energy security and self-sufficiency while mitigating environmental impacts. Failure to do so may increase dependence on coal and oil, leading to economic and environmental costs. Secondly, rampant air pollution emphasizes the need for cleaner energy sources like solar to combat pollution caused by fossil fuels. Lastly, declining groundwater levels and decreasing annual rainfall underscore the importance of diversifying energy sources. Solar power, unlike coal, does not strain groundwater supplies. The extensive use of solar power plants is a crucial step towards cleaner, cheaper, and sustainable energy. (Para 42)

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