Sunday, November 13, 2011

SU organises National Seminar on ‘Environment Security and Human Rights’

GANGTOK, 11 Nov: The Department of Law and Legal Jurisprudence of Sikkim University is organising a two-day national seminar on ‘Environment Security and Human Rights Issues’ sponsored by UGC and ICSSR which began today at the University’s conference hall.
The inaugural programme today had former Judge, High Court of Sikkim, AP Subba as the chief guest and Prof JL Kaul of Delhi University as the guest of honour accompanied by Prof BC Nirmal of Benaras Hindu University.
In the welcome address, Seminar Coordinator, Department of Law, SU, Dr Mita Poddar, welcoming all the guests informed that the seminar is being organised under the 11th plan of UGC.
Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof Mahendra P Lama, in his address, outlined the need for understanding the relation between environment security and human rights. He said that there are two fundamental reasons for organising such a seminar. Sikkim being a mountainous region, a large number of people here are dependent on the environment for their means of livelihood. Secondly, the connection between environmental security and human rights is not very clear and therefore needs to be discussed, he added.
“The objective behind the seminar is to look at the link between environmental issues and how it affects the individual, thereby bringing in the human rights aspect”, said Prof Lama. In his presentation, Prof Lama raised and explained pertinent issues related to environment security and human rights. He said that the speakers at the seminar would contribute by bringing in fresh knowledge and perspective as well as touching upon inter-disciplinary issues.
In the context of the 18 Sept earthquake in Sikkim, he said that the overriding topic of debate at the moment is ‘relief and rehabilitation’, however there also needs to be a debate on various other issues like earthquake studies, research, causes, and technology, etc. which he added is again related to human rights.
“In the two days of discussions, besides just legal aspects we also need to discuss broader impending issues”, Prof Lama further added.
Prof BC Nirmal, Benaras Hindu University, while delivering the keynote address, said that environment insecurity is one aspect of human insecurity. Touching upon the legal aspects, he said that the right to environment or the ideal environment has both collective and individual dimensions. He also said that we already have tools to ensure environmental security, like Public Interest Litigation [PIL], Environment Protection Acts, etc but these are either misused or have not been properly utilised.
Guest of honour, Prof JL Kaul of Delhi University, in his address, stated that we must first examine our approach to the present exigencies of existence. “We think on sectoral lines which has given rise to conflicting situations. It is because of such a sectoral approach that a balance between ecological requirements and our individual needs has not yet been found”, he said.
Speaking on development, Prof Kaul said that ‘right-based’ development which should include the right to environment is required. “A better interface between law and environment, an integrated approach is necessary or else we will all be doing great harm”, he further expressed.
The chief guest, former Judge, High Court of Sikkim, AP Subba, addressing the gathering said that environment awareness came only by the middle of the last century and various enactments and provisions have been made under the constitution to deal with environmental issues.
The inaugural session was followed by a working session chaired by Prof JL Kaul where speakers from both within and outside the state presented their papers on various themes. A second working session was also held on the theme of ‘Water’ which was chaired by Prof BC Nirmal.
Tomorrow, working sessions on Forest & Agriculture and Development Projects will take place at the Seminar.

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