Detail the constitutional provisions for protection of environment in India. (250 words)

Environmental conservation has been an integral part of the Indian ethos. These are reflected in India’s Constitution adopted in 1950. Articles 48A and 51G of the Directive Principles of State Policy enjoin upon the State to protect and improve the environment and safeguard the forests and wildlife. The Constitution of India also enables the Centre and the States to enact laws to carry out the duties of preservation, afforestation and conservation of natural resources. Article 39(b) and (c) lays down the duty of the State and the Centre to develop natural resources for common good. Article 40, on the other hand, calls for organisation of village as units of self-government. The Directive Principles of State Policy, though not enforceable by any Court, are nevertheless fundamental to the governance of the country. Thus, a favourable atmosphere for empowering grassroots communities and for assisting them to take initiatives in the areas of environmental management, including combating desertification, already exists.

     The Constitutional provisions in respect of allocation of responsibilities between the Centre and the States fall into three categories: the Union List (List-I), the State List (List-II), and the Concurrent list (List-III). Land and Water are state subjects. However, ‘Forest’ was a State subject earlier, and was brought to the Concurrent list in 1976. The subject ‘Environment’ is not under any List but is covered under the Directive Principles of State Policy and Fundamental Duties enshrined in the Constitution ‘to protect and improve the environment’.

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