Environmental law is the collection of regulations, ordinances, common law and agreements that govern how individuals interact with their environment. The main objective of environmental law is to protect the environment and generate rules for how an individual can use natural resources. The environmental law not only protects the environment but also determines who can use the natural resources. Law also regulates forest protection, pollution, the use of natural resources, mineral harvesting and fish populations and animals.
Environmental issues in India
In India, there are many environmental issues such as Air pollution, water pollution, pollution of the natural environment and garbage are all challenges for India. The condition was worse between 1947 through 1995. India has a long way to go to arrive at an environmental standard same to those enjoyed in countries with evolved economics. The growing pollution remains a primary challenge for India. Several have cited economic development as the reason concerning the environment problems. The medical fraternity is one of the most significant contributors to this challenge.
Hospitals are responsible for the environmental issues arising due to the waste they generate and due to the number of resources they use. The healthcare sector has just begun to understand the impact that environmental problems such as climate change will have on the healthcare industry.
“A green and healthy hospital” is one that encourages public health by continuously minimizing its environmental impact and indirectly evicting its assistance to the burden of disease. A green and healthy hospital overseas the link between human health and the environment and determines the understanding through its strategies, operations and governance. It joins local needs with environmental action and practices primary prevention by engaging in efforts to foster health equity, community ecological health and a green economy.
Environment Impact Assessment
Environment Impact Assessment (EIA)are procedures which make sure that all environmental issues are taken into account during the preparation process itself. In 1994, it was made obligatory under the Environmental Protection Act of 1986. The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) uses EIA as a leading tool for reducing the adverse impact of rapid industrialization on the environment and for reversing those trends which may lead to climate change in the long run. EIA is an essential tool in assuring that plans and projects will not provide an adverse impact on the environment. The EIA procedure thus could not merely prevent expenditures owing to environmental aspects but also prevent possible public views and protests against a plant.
When in hospitals, the wastes like used bottles or pieces of cotton is discharged, the EIA tool makes sure that the waste dumped is not harming the environment. The assessment is done in such a way that it checks all the ways through which a particular hospital is dumping or discharging its waste to regulate the environmental conditions near the hospital. Further EIA also helps when a hospital demands to construct a special place for dumping such material, as it overviews the impacts and all the pro’s and con’s related to it.
Sustainable development means an event that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The sustainable development includes Solar energy, Wind energy etc. Sustainable development has three pillars such as Economic growth, Environment protection and Social development.
India is one of the extremely bio-diverse countries of the world. Its main aim is to bring together development and environment into a single set of targets. The concept of sustainable development can be interpreted in many different manners, but at its core is an approach to development that looks to balance dissimilar and often completing, requires against a consciousness of the social, economic and environmental limitations we face as a society.
Care systems and the hospitals slowly are looking for ways to reduce overall costs and improve efficiency while also improving the patient’s overall experience. Aggressively pursuing goals and making an active commitment to sustainability provides various strategic benefits that can help the hospitals and care systems thrive. They can accomplish sustainable initiatives reap benefits in multiple areas. Efforts of hospitals and care systems contribute to a healthier environment, can help the local communities, and improve the organization’s public perception. One of the ways through which sustainability can improve population health is by contributing to healthier communities, minimizing the use of community resources such as water and energy and also by reducing pollution.
Environmental Laws Regulations
The requirements for the protection and conservation of the environment and sustainable use of natural resources are reflected in the constitutional framework of India. Legislation has passed many acts for environmental protection.
Following are the laws passed by the legislation for environmental protection.
1. The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981
The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 is an act to give for prevention, abatement and control of air pollution and the organization of Boards at the Central and state levels with a view performing the aforesaid reasons. To confer the boards, the authorities to execute the provision of the act and assign to the Boards functions connecting to pollution.
One of the major reasons through which air pollution is caused is by the emittance of smoke from the hospitals. This harmful smoke is a result of the pharma industries where the medicines are manufactured for the hospitals. Toxic smoke into the environment leads to air pollution.
2. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
The water act has been enacted to provide for Prevention and Control of Pollution and also to carry on or reinstate wholesomeness of water in the country. Further, it is provided for the organization of Boards for prevention and control of water pollution to perform the aforesaid purposes. This act forbids the discharge of pollutants into water bodies beyond the provided standard and lays down punishments for non-compliance.
Apart from the chemical industries, even the hospitals are responsible for water pollution. The waste which is generated by the hospitals is sometimes dumped inappropriately in nearby lakes and rivers, giving rise to water pollution, which is a major shortcoming for the environment. Water pollution further harms aquatic life. Hence, this vicious circle never ends, and therefore, hospitals must be responsible enough to dump the waste appropriately.
3. The Environment Protection Act, 1986
The Environment Act provides for the improvement and protection of the environment. This act establishes the framework for studying, planning, and implementing long-term needs of environment safety and laying down a system of speedy and sufficient reply to situations menacing the environment.
Talking about the health industry, it is essential that hospitals take care of the environment. There are duties and responsibilities of every citizen to take care of the environment. A hospital can ensure environment safety by providing a peaceful environment to its patients and as well as to the general public.
4. Hazardous Waste Management Regulations
Hazardous waste includes any waste which, by cause of any of its reactive, physical, explosive or corrosive, characteristics, chemical, toxic, flammable, cause hazard or is likely to cause a danger to health or environment, whether alone or when in contact with other wastes.
Mostly, the waste discharged by the healthcare sector is hazardous as it contains chemicals and toxic items. This substance, when released into the environment, causes adverse effects on the environment. Therefore, it is necessary and important for the healthcare sector to dump all its waste in adherence to the Hazardous Waste Management Regulations so that in future, no such cases arise.
5. The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010
The National Green Tribunal act has been enacted with the purposes to provide for the establishment of an NGT for the effective and expeditious disposal of matters relating to environment protection and other natural resources such as the enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and compensation for injures to persons and property and for cases connected therewith or incidental thereto.
The NGT comes into picture when any legal case arises. This type of situation may occur when a hospital fails to dispose of its waste or commits any activity which harms or hinders the environment. A case against the hospital may be brought by the NGT and not an individual. In such circumstances, the hospital is answerable to the National Green Tribunal, which might impose fines or penalties on the hospital.
Environmental pollution is the main problem in different parts of the world, which needs policymakers to employ several mitigation strategies. Many reasons affect the environment; increasing population, economic development, urbanization and industrialization etc. In India, economic development and population growth are contributing to too many grave environmental calamities.
Sustainable development is about finding better ways of doing things for the present and future. We might require changing the way we work and live now, but this doesn’t mean our standard of life will reduce. With all of these, India is witnessing a high amount of environmental pollution due to the healthcare sector. As per reports, 5 per cent of the country’s GDP is spent on the Healthcare sector. It is the responsibility of the healthcare sector that this spending is used most appropriately. The hospitals can construct areas where the waste can be dumped off easily. A hospital can also utilize its resources and production in such a way that waste is minimized with effective and low-cost production.