South Asia

Published: Friday 30 September 2005

Landmark judgement: For the first time, a UScourt has recognised the potentially disastrous effects of climate change. The California court recently permitted environmental groups Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth and the US cities of Boulder, Colorado, Oakland, Santa Monica and Arcata to sue the Overseas Private Investment Corp and the Export-Import Bank of the United States, two federal government agencies, for aiding climate change. The plaintiffs claim that eight per cent of the world's greenhouse gases come from projects supported by these two agencies and the global warming they cause impacts US communities adversely. They also argue that because of this reason, USA's National Environmental Policy Act, necessitating environmental assessments of proposed development projects in the country, should apply to US-backed overseas projects too.

"This is really the first time a US court has given a plaintiff the right to go to court solely on the global warming issue...It is a great advance," Geoff Hand, a lawyer involved in the case, was quoted as saying. "We have dealt with the jurisdiction issues...It essentially puts the onus onto the government and means they have to show that global warming is not happening."

Vehicle phase-out: The Calcutta High Court recently approved a state government decision of replacing all over 15-years-old commercial vehicles with new Bharat Stage II-compliant models for renewing their permits. Following the government order, the transport department had stopped renewing the permits of buses, minibuses and taxis older than 15 years. But some bus-owners filed a writ petition challenging the government decision. "Nowhere in the motor vehicles rules is there any condition for replacing old vehicles with new ones for renewal of permits. Replacement of vehicles should not be linked with permit renewal," argued their counsel. After the petition was dismissed, bus owners said they will move the division bench.

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