Mahesh Chandra Mehta a lawyer by profession is a committed environmentalist by choice, and has won many landmark judgements from India’s Supreme court from 1984.He has made his fight to protect the Indian environment his never-ending mission. He has pioneered legal activism for environment protection and is a proof of making a difference.
M.C. Mehta is the man who introduced lead-free gasoline to India reducing the industrial pollution and fighting for the protection of Ganges river and prevention of eroding of Taj Mahal.
Born in October 12 1946 M.C Mehta belongs to a small district from Rajouri in Jammu and Kashmir. It was here that his love for environment instilled in him a sense of commitment to fight for its protection. M.C Mehta is a very hardworking, fearless and honest individual, during his youth he used to travel 15 km and cross two rivers to attend his lectures at a school in Rajouri where he was completing his higher education. Later he went to Jammu to complete his graduation from the Jammu University, where he mastered political science and obtained a law degree and moved, to practice in Jammu and Kashmir High Court. In his earlier days he used to take active part in social and political issues. He raised his voice against corruption and motivated the other students to fight against the injustice of discrimination in the Jammu Region. He remained President of The Youth Action Committee and pioneered the Social and Political causes. His career as a Supreme Court lawyer began in 1983, when he migrated to Delhi. In 1984, he began focusing on environmental litigation.
M.C Mehta in early 1984 visited Taj Mahal and noticed the eroding of the famed monument made from marble turning into yellowish colour, due to the industrial effluents emitted by the nearby Industries. This led him to the file his first environmental case in the Supreme court of India. The following year Mehta learned that the holy river Ganga is being polluted by many citizens, millions of people are bathing and drinking water, once caught fire due to the indrustrial effluents in the river. Again Mehta filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the polluting Industries and the scope of the case broadened to include the industries and municipalities in the river basin.
During the years that followed there was a courtroom decided each Friday for Mehta’s case. Many industrialists came threatening Mehta, but he stood firm against his fight for the protection of environment, it was a decade long battle against the factory owners, politicians. In 1993 Supreme Court ordered 212 small factories surrounding Taj Mahal to shut down, since they did not accord themselves by the pollution control rules and had not installed such devices for the prevention. While the Ganges cases continued every week, 5,000 factories were ordered to install pollution control devices and all the factory owners and industries were noticed to set up a sewage treatment plan to continue the working of a industry. Mehta has won many precedent setting suits against industries, he succeeded in getting a court order to make lead free gasoline available. He has been working against extensive shrimp farming cases which is done along the 7000 km of coastline India.
Mehta has succeeded to bring many environmental provisions into the constitutional framework. He has single handedly obtained about 40 landmark judgements of Supreme Court and orders against the polluters, a record that no other environmental lawyer could rival. Being one of the greatest environmental lawyer M.C. Mehta has been conferred with several prestigious awards like the Governor’s Gold Medal, Goldman environmental prize considered as a alternative to the Nobel Prize in USA and Europe, the UN’S Global 500 Award for 1993 above all the Magasaysay Award for 1997. M.C Mehta is currently working with the M.C Mehta Environmental Foundation, a NGO which tries to motivate the young Environmental lawyers and attorneys, by providing them a training programs and numerous environmental justice campaigns.
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