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Indian Case Summary

S. Jagannath vs Union Of India & Ors on 11 December, 1996 – Case Summary

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In the case of S. Jagannath vs Union Of India & Ors on 11 December, 1996, the Supreme Court of India was confronted with a significant environmental issue concerning the shrimp (prawn) culture industry in India. The case was brought before the court by S. Jagannath, Chairman of the Gram Swaraj Movement, a voluntary organization working for the upliftment of the weaker sections of society. The petitioner sought the enforcement of the Coastal Zone Regulation Notification dated February 19, 1991, issued by the Government of India, and the cessation of intensive and semi-intensive types of prawn farming in the ecologically fragile coastal areas.

Facts

The shrimp culture industry has been taking roots in India, with traditional rice/shrimp rotating aquaculture systems being replaced by more intensive methods of shrimp culture. These new methods, driven by private companies and multinational corporations, have led to the conversion of over eighty thousand hectares of land to shrimp farming. The environmental impact of shrimp culture depends on the mode of culture adopted in the shrimp farming. The intensified shrimp farming in certain parts of the country has brought a serious threat to the environment and ecology.

Issues

The petitioner argued that the intensive and semi-intensive types of prawn farming in the ecologically fragile coastal areas were causing significant environmental damage. He sought the enforcement of the Coastal Zone Regulation Notification, which prohibited such activities, and the constitution of a National Coastal Management Authority to safeguard the marine life and coastal areas.

Court’s Observations

The court noted that coastal pollution had become a serious environmental problem in India. It highlighted the need to protect ecologically sensitive areas and land-sea interface resource areas. The court also pointed out the lack of regulations to control the use of chemicals and drugs in aquaculture, and the indiscriminate use of chemicals and pesticides in shrimp farms.

The court also took note of the physical factors caused by shrimp farming, such as the construction of huge dykes that blocked natural drainage areas, leading to flooding in hinterland villages. The court also observed that shrimp farms did not provide access to the beach for traditional fishermen, causing them to take longer routes to the sea. Additionally, the court noted the issue of salinization, with reports of salinization of land spreading further landwards and wells yielding only saline water.

Judgment

The judgment of the case is not provided in the content extracted from the webpage. However, given the court’s observations, it is likely that the court would have made significant rulings concerning the regulation of shrimp farming in India, the enforcement of the Coastal Zone Regulation Notification, and the protection of ecologically sensitive coastal areas.