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Judicial Academy, WWF India organize 2 day orientation prog on “Wildlife and Forest Conservation Laws”

Jammu, March 02 (Scoop News)- J&K Judicial Academy in collaboration with WWF-India, organized a two day orientation programme on “Wildlife and Forest Conservation Laws” for Judicial Officers and officers of J&K Forest Department from across the Jammu Province at J&K Judicial Academy, Janipur, Jammu.

The orientation programme was e-inaugurated by Chief Justice, High Court of J&K and Ladakh, N Kotiswar Singh, in presence of Justice Madan B Lokur, Judge, Supreme Court of Fiji, Former Judge, Supreme Court of India along with Justice Sanjeev Kumar, Chairman, Governing Committee for J&K Judicial Academy and Roshan Jaggi, Principle Chief Conservator of Forest and HoFF, Chairman, J&K Biodiversity Council, Government of J&K. Dr. Saket Badola, CCF, Uttarakhand, Dr. M.K. Kumar, Chief Conservator of Forest, Jammu East, Moulika Arabhi, Advisor, Centre for Environmental Law, WWF India, Dr. Amit Dubey, Head-Wetlands, WWF India, Tejas Singh Kapoor, Centre for Environmental Law, WWF India and Rohit Rattan, WWF India were also present during the inaugural session who were the resource persons in the orientation programme.

The Chief Justice, in his inaugural address, highlighted that environmental degradation is mostly a result of human activities such as deforestation, vehicular pollution and industrialization which has led to environmental pollution and loss of biodiversity. He emphasised that educating the masses about the importance of protecting the environment is an effective way to restore the ecological balance. He stated that the infrastructural and industrial growth in the region has boosted its economy but at the same time air is getting polluted since brick kilns in many districts of J&K are adding to air pollution. He added that global warming in J&K has led to a change in snowfall patterns and warmer winters, affecting the ecosystem at large. He emphasised to act responsibly towards the environment and strike a balance between economic growth and environmental protection, J&K will stay beautiful, befitting its nickname, Paradise on Earth.

In his special address, Justice Sanjeev Kumar emphasised that our connection with nature is as old as our civilization. India has a rich ancient tradition of protecting the environment which in turn, has made the people of India worship and embrace nature in every way possible. He stated that the principle of sustainable development is to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. One of the most common to face is climate change which is being debated widely worldwide. So, the need of the hour is sustainable development. He added that the doctrine of Sustainable development was first applied by the Supreme court in the case of Vellore Citizen Welfare Forum v. Union of India (1996 5 SCC 650), the Supreme Court while maintaining the principle of Polluter Pay and Pecuniary Principle as a piece of ecological law articulated that securing the damaged piece of the climate is an integral part of the course of sustainable development, and subsequently in the current case, the polluter was held responsible to pay harms to the concerned victims just as harms for recuperation of the damaged climate. He also discussed upon ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan’, a scheme under Government of India that emphasizes on ushering in a behavioural change among people, for healthy sanitation practices and the importance of it. Justice Kumar stressed on the ways we must all develop to meet our needs so that our future generations can inherit a healthier and greener planet.

Roshan Jaggi, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests & Chairman Biodiversity Council, in his keynote address, shared details of actions being taken by J&K Forest Department to enhance forest cover, conserve water resources and protect wildlife. He informed that scale of afforestation has been increased three times in last four years besides enhanced participation of PRI representatives and local people has been yielding encouraging results in the form of rehabilitation of degraded forests, creating livelihoods for local people and sustained supply of forest based raw material to wood based industries to generate employment opportunities to unemployed youth in rural areas.

Moulika Arabhi, Advisor, Centre for Environmental Law, WWF India, gave an introduction of the orientation programme. She said that there is a need of dedicated environmental courts adding that environmental laws are the body of laws, which is a system of complex and interlocking statutes, common law, treaties, conventions, regulations and policies which seek to protect the natural environment which may be affected, impacted or endangered by human activities. She said the every state should have a cordial relationship between the judiciary and the Forest department for effective implementation of a better environmental well being.

Y.P. Bourney, Director, J&K Judicial Academy, giving an overview of the programme, saying that India has always had a rich ancient tradition of protecting the environment which in turn, has made the people of India worship and embrace nature in every way possible. Trees, water, animals, land have an important mention in ancient Indian texts. Hymns in the four Vedas, reveal full consciousness of the undesirable effects of climate change, distortion in ecological balance, and environmental degradation and appropriately caution against them. He stated that in today’s emerging Law world, environmental rights are considered as third generation rights. He added that J&K although known as heaven on earth for its breathtaking natural beauty, has been facing a multitude of environmental challenges that threaten its ecological health and well-being. He stressed upon the need to take proactive measures and foster collaboration between various stakeholders for preserving its unique natural heritage for the coming generations. He emphasised that invests in capacity building is necessary to equip all the key players with the necessary skills for effective implementation of the Forest Conservation Laws.

The first session was chaired by M.K. Kumar, Chief Conservator of Forest, who gave an overview on environmental issues and challenges in Jammu. He said that Jammu and Kashmir is a popular travel destination and the tourism industry has led to the economic growth of this state. Infrastructural development and industrialization have got a boost after the removal of Article 370, he added. He underlined that these factors have also increased the environmental problems in J&K. He added that industrial growth and the rising population have resulted in environmental pollution and climate change.

Dr. Amit Dubey, Head-Wetlands, WWF India, who was the resource person for the second session, deliberated on the importance of high-altitude wetlands and their governance. He said that High-altitude wetlands, often referred to as Himalayan High Altitude Wetlands (HAWs) in the context of Asia, are more than just bodies of water at high elevations. They are the lifeblood of the mountains, playing a crucial role in various aspects of the environment and human well-being. He stated that governing high-altitude wetlands (HAWs) presents a unique set of challenges due to their remote locations, harsh environments, and the diverse stakeholders involved. He added that by addressing the diverse aspects and fostering collaboration among stakeholders, we can navigate the complexities of high-altitude wetland governance and ensure the long-term sustainability of these vital ecosystems.

In third session, the resource person Dr. Saket Badola, gave an overview of illegal wildlife trade scenarios in India. He said that illegal wildlife trade is a major threat to global biodiversity, driving many species to the brink of extinction. It involves the capture, trade, and possession of animals and plants in violation of national and international laws. He stated that this illicit activity is fueled by high demand for wildlife products, often fueled by myths and cultural beliefs, and generates billions of dollars annually for criminal organizations. He emphasised that illegal wildlife trade (IWT) transcends the immediate threat of pushing species towards extinction and acts as a potent cocktail, poisoning the well of biodiversity with a range of devastating consequences. He added that illegal wildlife trade isn't just about pushing species to extinction; it's a multifaceted problem with far-reaching consequences that threaten the very fabric of our natural world. He demanded that addressing this issue requires a multi-pronged approach, tackling the root causes of demand, strengthening law enforcement, promoting sustainable alternatives, and fostering global cooperation to protect our precious biodiversity.

The fourth session was chaired virtually by Justice Madan B. Lokur, Judge, Supreme Court of Fiji, Former Judge, Supreme Court of India and an eminent environmentalist. The resource person underlined that ‘Environment’ is a very comprehensive term and is clearly at risk from a variety of reasons, mostly of human origin and in order to tackle this problem it is important to develop strategies for modifying human behaviour towards environmentally benign practices and shun away environmentally damaging ones.

Justice Lokur highlighted that our constitution talks considerably about protection of environment and highlighted the five basic principles of law evolved over the years as sustainable development, precautionary measures, principal of polluter pay, rectification and public participation so as to put in place an effective ecosystem to tackle any action potentially harmful to the flora and fauna.

Citing a number of live examples and rulings of the high courts and Apex Court in recent years, he emphasised that environmental law has become a critical means of promoting sustainable development. He highlighted that there has been considerable experimentation in the search for more effective methods of environmental control beyond traditional "command-and-control" style regulation. He added that Eco-taxes, tradable emission allowances, voluntary standards and negotiated agreements are some of these innovations. The resource person gave various environment-threatening illustrations which has been a matter of concern. He added that substantial improvement of the current trajectories of development requires ‘system innovation’, a fundamental change in the systems of goods provision, by using different resources, knowledge and practices which in turn requires replacement of old outcome-based planning with reflexive and adaptive planning.

On the occasion, a plantation drive in association with J&K Forest Department was also conducted at J&K Judicial Academy, Jammu campus in which different saplings were planted by the dignitaries.

All the sessions were interactive during which all the participants actively participated and shared their experiences, and also discussed various aspects of the subject topics. They also raised a number of queries which were answered satisfactorily by the worthy resource persons.

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