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Awareness will provide legal tools to protect community health

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  • Shaji John K
    Awareness will provide legal tools to protect community health After churning out good managers, the Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow, will now make
    Message 1 of 1 , May 31, 2006
      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.
      Asit Srivastava

      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
      environment there.

      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
      state government?

      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
      management institute.
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