The supreme court in a landmark judgment on writ petition No. 214 of 1991, filed
by the Vellore Citizens welfare Forum stated that " the right of a person to pollution
free environment is a part of the basic jurisprudence of the land. " Also, '' The
Polluter Pays principle has been held to be a sound principle by this court........
....It is therefore necessary for this Court to take immediate action under the
provisions of the Environment Act."
The case concerned the extensive poisoning of land by the 900 tanneries that operated
in the state of Tamil Nadu. The discharge of their untreated effluents, into agricultural
fields, roadsides, waterways and open lands, made 35000 ha of agricultural land
in the tanneries belt partially or totally unfit for cultivation. And in two panchayats
made water in 350 wells, out of a total of 467 wells in 13 villages, unfit for drinking
and irrigation purposes. The effluents let out into rivulets and rivers spread out,
during the rains and floods, and the pollutants covered other lands.
(Source: BNHS Hornbill Oct-Dec. '99)
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