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Interview with Norma Alvares

Interview with Norma Alvares

Interview with Norma Alvares

What path would you suggest for people who want to pursue environmental law?

I think that a young person has to understand concepts and understand them, in the sense of what it means to the planet. What is a river? It’s a flowing source of water but where does it originate? What are the consequences of constructing a dam across it? Of changing the nature? These are terms we have names for. The interplay between all these things, then when you open the law pertaining to it. You see what sand dunes are, once you study them and then read the law it will then make sense. Without knowing the resource the law doesn’t make sense. But if you understand why and what then you will understand the laws and acts. You will not see it as hindrance or block.

How did the idea of filing a Public Interest Litigation come about in that scenario?

There was a group of people who were opposing the removal of sand from a beach for construction, they felt it was wrong. Sand is a very glorious part of the beach as ands aesthetical value. These people were writing letters to the government etc. Then we though if government won’t stop these people then let’s take this issue it to the court. The people removing the sand had leases and a lease is like a paid permission. This lead to a conflict in court. The court ruled that they would not renew the lease. We won that case by default but the court didn’t exam any facts regarding the cons of the removal of sand from the beach. Much of my public interest litigation work is circumstantial. In 1986 the environmental act came out it, dealt with issues related to water, sand and so an.

How did “People for Animals” come about?

It came about because of a young women who was affected by the suffering of street dogs. This lady wrote to Maneka Gandhi, Gandhi told her to meet me. That is how I became a part of this venture as we needed members to set it up. I think animal welfare is part of environmental issues.

What role does Law play in helping environmentalists with their conversational efforts?

I think law plays a great role only because the government has become so politically motivated that they don’t want to enforce the laws they made. The voters is what motivates them to water down the law or try and grant permissions which are disrespectful of the law. The judiciary has taken on the role that the government is not doing.

-Adithi Ghosh

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