Awareness will provide legal tools to protect community health
- Awareness will provide legal tools to protect community health
After churning out good managers, the Indian Institute of Management,
Lucknow, will now make people aware of their environmental rights and
evoke a sense of responsibility in them. Project leader Dr Dharmendra
S Sengar gives the details of this unique programme aimed at building
community participation for a healthy environment.
Lucknow, May 31: What will be the objectives of this project?
The project has several aims. The most important amongst them will be
to create a sense of responsibility among the participants to make
them take initiatives to improve the environmental condition. For
this, training on legal awareness about environmental rights and
duties will be imparted. Environmental legislation is one of the key
components of the project. And in a country like ours, awareness on
the legislation will provide them with legal tools to protect
community health and environment. For instance, citizen suit is one of
the basic tools that can be used. Under this, any person can sue
polluters for not complying with environmental laws. The programmes
also aim at taking participants to real-life situations/ model sites
to provide them with an opportunity to see and experience the
What made you undertake this project?
The idea to take up such a project was always at the back of my mind
ever since I completed my fellowship from George Washington
University's Law School in America. During my stint at the law school,
I was amazed at the community participation of the locals in keeping
the environment clean. Even school kids there were actively involved
in improving the environment. Taking a cue from this, I had decided to
take initiative for inculcating that sense of community participation
here. With this desire, I recently submitted a proposal at US Embassy
to start a project focusing on legal awareness and youth participation
in environmental compliance and enforcement. It was heartening to I
know that my project was selected.
Have you set any criteria for enrolling the participants in this project?
There is no specific criteria for the selection. However, applicants
in the age group of 25-30 will be preferred. The reason is obvious. At
this age, they are highly active and enthusiastic, so we want to
enroll them first. The training workshops will consist of lectures,
discussions, role-plays, case analysis and exercises. The programmes
will include field visits to industries, protected areas and
institutions for exposure.
What kind of response are you getting for this training programme?
It's excellent. Youth not only from Uttar Pradesh but from various
states like Bihar, Jharkhnad, Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh have
approached us to be part of the programme.
How significant is this programme for our state?
We all know that the government claims to take initiatives for the
protection of the environment. However, owing to limited resources of
the government, at times the initiatives fail to bring out the desired
results. Taking this into account, if we raise a youth brigade, which
apart from spreading environmental awareness, assists in the
environment-based projects undertaken by the government, it will be of
great help. The welfare of citizens has become central to governance
structure with recognition of right to live in healthy environment.
This programme will help in efficient running of civic services, clean
and healthy environment, sewage and health services- which are any
citizen's right and can be demanded from the government. Particulary
in our state, it has been found that people residing in rural and
tribal areas are not even aware of the legal tools and its use to
protect the environment from degrading.
Are you getting any kind of financial assistance from NGOs or the
As far as financial assistance is concerned, the project is being
jointly sponsored by public affairs section of the US Department of
States, American Embassy, New Delhi and the Indian Institute of
Management, Lucknow (IIML). I have invited various NGOs to be part a
of this programme. Several NGOs have come forward to help me in
screening the candidates for the programme.
When is this training programme going to start?
The programme will be conducted in various phases. If all goes well,
we will be able to start the training from the first week of June.
Other batches of the programme will be started from July. It will be
free-of-cost and all the expenses of the students will be borne by the