Saving Mother Earth

by Jun 2, 2024Welfare0 comments

Mother Earth Is Urging A Call To Action: Rajasthan HC


It would be extremely significant to note that while taking suo motu cognizance of the extreme heatwave across the country, the Single Judge Bench of the Jaipur Bench of the Rajasthan High Court comprising of Hon’ble Mr Justice Anoop Kumar Dhand in a most learned, laudable, landmark, logical and latest judgment titled In Re Save The Planet Earth And The Future Generations Of This Universe that was pronounced as recently as on May 30, 2024 called upon the Central and State governments to take remedial steps to address climate change which affects all of us. The Court issued some immediate measures also which we shall discuss above the rest to be taken by the State government to address effectively and contain the growing number of deaths due to heatstroke which is definitely a cause of grave concern. The Court also very rightly urged the Central Government to enact the Prevention of Deaths Due to Heat and Cold Waves Bill, 2015 which is yet to see the light of the day. To this end, it also asked its Registry to send a copy of this order to the Union Ministry of Law & Justice.


Before stating anything else, it would be in order to consider what is the “heart and arteries” of this notable judgment as encapsulated in para 27 directing that, “By an interim measure, looking to current emergent situation, this Court issues the following directions to the respondents:-

(i) To implement the “Heat Action Plan” prepared under the Rajasthan Climate Change Project with immediate effect in its true letter and spirit and do effective implementation of the scheme ‘Strengthening Health Systems Preparedness for Heat Related Illnesses’ and the Advisory issued for the State Health Department on Heat Wave Season–2024 with immediate effect in the interest of public at large.

(ii) To sprinkle water on the roads where huge movement of public at large is there.

(iii) To provide cooling spaces, shades on the traffic signals, spots, etc. near the roads and highways where the Government may deem necessary for the benefit of general public at large, daily wage earners, rickshaw or cart pullers and porters, birds and animals with facility of drinking water, ORS packets, mango panna, etc. in such a manner for their benefit to save them from heat stroke.

(iv) The Department of Health is directed to provide all possible facilities at all the Health Centers for treatment of heat wave patients.

(v) The Government is directed to issue advisory for all the workers who work in open including the porters, cart and rickshaw pullers, etc. to allow them to rest between 12 Noon and 3 PM during extreme heatwave in summer season.

(vi) The Government is further directed to issue alerts in the form of Short Message Service (SMS), FM, Radio, Television, Mobile apps, Print and Electronic Media, Newspapers, etc. to alert the people about the extreme heatwave conditions.

(vii) The Government is further directed to pay appropriate & suitable amount of compensation to the dependents of the victims of heatwave, who lost his/her life due to heat stroke.

(viii) The Government is directed to bring suitable legislation to save human and living beings from the pollution and consumption of adulterated food items. This is the right time and high time for taking appropriate steps to save the future generations from all kinds of life threatening diseases occurring due to climate changes and adulteration in eatable items.

For clarity, the Bench clarifies in para 28 stating that, “Certain more appropriate directions would be issued on the next date of hearing.

At the very outset, this brief, brilliant, bold and balanced judgment sets the ball in motion by first and foremost putting forth in para 1 that, “Earth is the only known planet having life in this Universe. Earth is the only planet which can sustain life on it. We do not have a planet-B which we can move onto. Earth is the home of million species including living and non-living.”

Quite frankly, the Bench observes in para 2 that, “Our planet is definitely a priceless gift from God. It is the principal saver of all essential nutrients for all living things on the planet. Earth provides everything we need, including the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the homes we live in. Earth is known as ‘Mother Earth’ because like our mother, she is always nursing us and providing for all of our needs.”

As we see, the Bench then underscores in para 3 that, “On Earth, there are humans, animals, plants, water bodies, land, mountains, dirt and so on. Our planet is the only place on the globe where living things can survive. As a result, it becomes increasingly critical and crucial to save our planet.”

Most significantly, the Bench points out in para 4 what constitutes the cornerstone of this notable judgment that, “Mother Earth is clearly urging a call to action. Nature is suffering. Extreme heart now-a-days crossing the temperature more than 50 Degree Celsius have affected millions of people of the State of Rajasthan and across the nation. Climate change, man-made change to nature as well as crimes that disrupt biodiversity, such as deforestation, cutting of trees, land use changes, destroying natural water bodies, etc. can accelerate the speed of destruction of the planet. Rapid cutting of trees has caused disaster climate change.”

Equally significant is what is then exhorted upon by the Bench in para 5 asserting that, “So we should respect and maintain everything we get from our mother Earth. We should save the mother Earth so that our future generations can live in a safe environment. This makes it all the more serious to save the Earth and save our lives. If we do not take strict action now, we will lose the chance of seeing out future generations flourish forever. Everyone must come together for the same cause, as we are inhabitants of this planet firstly and then anything else.”

No less significant is what is then urged upon by the Bench in para 7 stating that, “We all should respect and maintain everything we get from our mother Earth. We should save the mother Earth so that our future generations can live a safe environment. We can save the Earth by saving the trees, natural vegetation, water natural resources. We should strictly follow all possible measures to control the environment pollution and global warming. Everyone should plant more trees in the surrounding areas to curb the pollution and reduce the efforts of global warming.”

Do note, the Bench notes in para 8 that, “Every small contribution we make to preserve the Earth and its ecology would certainly make a difference. A little effort will go a long way on everyone’s end. Each action will make a difference.”

On a positive note, the Bench very rightly urges and calls upon in para 9 stating that, “The Government and individuals must come together to save the Earth. Let the people make aware of the consequences of not saving the Earth. They can be taught ways as to how they can contribute to saving the Earth. If all this collective effort starts happening, we can surely save our planet Earth and make brighter Earth for our future generations.”

No doubt, the Bench rightly points out in para 10 that, “Save the Earth and save the future is a crucial responsibility that arises from a combination of moral, realistic and long-term survival concerns.”

As things stands, the Bench concedes in para 11 that, “There is no purity in environment, be it air and water. Almost all food eatables are found to be adulterated. Chemicals and insecticides are used in eatables of daily life. Almost all dairy products, milk, ghee, grains, fruits, vegetables, etc. are developed with chemicals which is seriously affecting the life of public at large, causing serious life threatening disease like cancer, etc. Few persons are creating all these illegal unwarranted deeds for making easy money at the cost of life of all living beings.”

Frankly speaking, the Bench lays bare in para 12 that, “Due to extreme weather conditions in the form of heatwave, hundreds of people have lost their lives in this month. Every year one Nation faces extreme weather conditions in the form of heatwave, rains and cold wave in which many people, particularly the poor ones lose their lives. The news items published in various newspapers and the news board casted on electric media reflect that in the heatwave of this year death toll has crossed thousands in number. The more lethal heatwave in the globe was the one that crippled Europe in 2003 killing 71,310 people. In the list of top ten deadliest disaster, Indian heatwaves figure four-five times in 1998, 2002, 2003, 2015 and this year-2004. Unsurprisingly, six of the top ten heatwaves, in terms of deaths, have occurred in the 21st Century, which has also recorded eight of the ten warmest years ever since records of global temperatures were started being kept. Unfortunately the poor who are poorly fed and have no option but to work in the scorching heat and chilling cold to get two square meals are vulnerable to these extreme weather conditions and lose their lives. The death tolls from heatwaves are very difficult to estimate since excess heat is typically not listed as the primary cause of death in the cases where the victim has a pre-existing condition such as heart or lung disease.”

In the fitness of things, the Bench then very rightly underscores in para 13 that, “Looking to large number of death due to extreme heat and cold waves across the country, that National Disaster Management Authority (for short “the NDMA”) started working on it. There is need to declare heatwave and coldwave as National Calamity. A detailed study was conducted to find out the ways in the form of prevention methods, access to portable drinking water and cooling space, etc. are required to prevent deaths due to heatwave and availability to rain baseras, woolens, medicines and food for the poorest of the poor may prevent death during these heatwaves and chilling winters. This is the basic minimum which is required to be done for the poorest of the poor in a welfare State.”

To recapitulate, the Bench recalls in para 14 that, “In order to seek some solution to avoid and overcome the above situation, a Bill i.e. “The Prevention of Deaths Due to Heat and Cold Waves Bill, 2015” (for short “the Bill of 2015”) was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on 18th December, 2015 to provide for the prevention of human deaths caused by heat stroke during summer and chilling cold during winter seasons by declaring heatwave and coldwave as national calamity and for making provisions for advance preparedness to face these natural calamities immediately on predictions of meteorological department making provision for providing woolens, setting up night shelters, community bonfires etc. during winters and for drinking water, ORS packets, Mango panna, cooling space and shades at conspicuous places, free ration and other needs for the poor homeless workers and daily wage earners during summer and for payment of compensation to the kins of those losing lives in heat or cold wave, as the case may be, by the Central and the State Governments and for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto.”

It is worth noting that the Bench notes in para 15 that, “Several provisions were inserted in the above Bill of 2015 such as on receipt of the prediction of the Meteorological Centre, the appropriate Government shall alert its Ministries or Departments dealing with agriculture, drinking water, social justice, food and others, as it may deem necessary, to be ready with their action plans to face the natural calamity and disaster, which may likely to be caused by such natural calamity. Several beneficial provisions were made in the benefit of the affected persons, but for the reasons best known to the Central Government, in spite of passing of more than 8-9 years, till date the said Bill has not been passed in the Houses of Parliament to get it in the shape of a statutory Act, which can be enforced by its implementation. The said Bill of 2015 is still lying in cold storage and has not seen the light of day in spite of passing of almost a decade. A downloaded copy of the Bill of 2015 is attached herewith and marked as Annexure C/1.”

Be it noted, the Bench notes in para 16 that, “A Heat Action Plan (for short “HAP”) was developed in the State of Rajasthan with the advise and leadership of the Disaster Management and Relief Department (for short “the DMRD”) and the Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board (for short “the RSPCB”). This ‘HAP’ was guided and supported by the experts of the fields of weather, climate and health and related disciplines. This HAP was supposed to be India’s first rural climate resilience heat action plan for rural settings. Roles and Responsibilities of various Departments were fixed. Categories of Yellow, Orange and Red Alerts i.e. Hot Day Advisory (41-43°C), Heat Alert Day (43- 44.9°C) and Extreme Heat Alert Day (45°C and above) were prescribed to meet every situation of the climate. Various duties of Nodal Officers at various levels of various Departments were fixed including the duties of Media, Press and Communication Officers. But for practical purposes and in reality, the Rajasthan Climate Change Project bringing Heat Action Plan has not given its correct effect in true letter and spirit. A downloaded copy of the Rajasthan Climate Change Project bringing Heat Action Plan is attached herewith and marked as Annexure C/2.”

Lamentably, the Bench puts forth in para 17 that, “Thereafter, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (for short “MOHFW”), Government of India brought a scheme on 18.04.2013 i.e. “Strengthening Health Systems Preparedness for Heat Related Illness (HRI) in India” for Community Health Centre (CHC) and District Hospitals (DH). This includes planning for PreHeat Season, During Heat Season and Post Heat Season. Similarly, provisions are meant for emergency management and cooling for severe heat related illness and construction of heatstroke room for emergency management of severe heat related illnesses. But in practicality, the Government has miserably failed to implement this scheme and provisions meant for benefiting the heatstroke patients. A downloaded copy of the scheme of Strengthening Health Systems Preparedness for Heat Related Illness (HRI) in India is attached herewith and marked as Annexure C/3.”

Do also note, the Bench notes in para 18 that, “Last year the Delhi Disaster Management Authority prepared a Delhi Heat Wave Action Plan–2023 to meet out with every situation arising out of heatwaves. Various strategies, roles and responsibilities of the official staff and officers of various departments were identified and fixed during pre & post and after Heatwave Seasons to face all kinds of unwarranted situations in the interest of public art large. A downloaded copy of the Delhi Heat Wave Action Plan–2023 is attached herewith and marked as Annexure C/4. The State of Rajasthan and Central Government are also supposed to prepare such Heat Wave Action Plans and take all possible, sincere and serious steps in this regard.”

Further, the Bench states in para 29 that, “The Senior Advocates Mr. R.N. Mathur, Mr. A.K. Sharma, Mr. Kamlakar Sharma, Mr. R.K. Agarwal, Mr. A.K. Bhandari, Mr. S.K. Gupta, Mr. Ashok Mehta, Mr. R.P. Singh, Mr. Vivek Bajwa, the Chairman/Vice-Chairman of the Bar Council and the President of the Bar Associations are requested to assist this Court for taking appropriate steps and issuing suitable directions for this pious public cause.”

Furthermore, the Bench enunciates in para 30 that, “The Advocate General Mr.Rajendra Prasad, Mr.Bharat Vyas, Additional Advocate General and the Additional Solicitor General Mr.R.D.Rastogi are also requested to assist this Court on behalf of the State and Central Government respectively. The Registry is directed to immediately register this matter as a Suo-Moto Public Interest Litigation, in the name and style mentioned above.”

Adding more to it, the Bench directs in para 31 that, “Issue notice to the respondents. A copy of this order along with annexures be supplied today itself in the office of the Advocate General and the Additional Solicitor General, for necessary compliance. Similarly, a copy may be supplied in the office of all the respective Senior Advocates, named above.”

Finally, the Bench then concludes by holding in para 32 that, “The Registry is further directed to list this matter before the appropriate Division Bench having roster of ‘Public Interest Litigation’ on 01.07.2024.”

In sum, we thus see very clearly that the Rajasthan High Court has very rightly taken suo motu cognizance of the extreme heatwave engulfing environment. What all the Jaipur Bench has directed in this leading case must be implemented on a war footing as part of the damage control exercise. No denying it!

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