The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Green syllabus made compulsory from next session

New Delhi, Dec. 18: Green crusaders take heart; your ranks are set to swell.

From the next academic session, environment studies will be compulsory in schools, colleges and universities as well as in professional courses.

The Supreme Court today directed all states, Union Territories and the central government to “strictly and fully” implement the order it passed 12 years ago on inclusion of environment as a subject in all syllabi, “at least” from the 2004-05 session.

It asked the governments to take disciplinary action against any institution not complying with the order.

A division bench of Justices . Santosh Hegde and B.P. Singh, which issued the order today, directed the National Council for Educational Research and Training to frame a model syllabus keeping in view the court’s 1991 judgment. The court asked the NCERT to submit its model syllabus on or before April 14, 2004.

In the current NCERT curriculum, the basics of environment are taught in junior classes — from I to V. “But there is no uniform syllabus. It varies from state to state,” said NCERT director J.S. Rajput.

The judges also asked the University Grants Commission to frame a model for colleges and universities and also for professional courses.

The court said if the model syllabi are found suitable, it would be recommended for uniform application throughout the country.

The directives came on a public interest litigation filed by environmentalist-lawyer M.C. Mehta. The lawyer, who won the Magsaysay award for his work in environment-related litigation, complained that despite the court’s 1991 order, no state government has bothered to do so even after 12 years.

In its November 22, 1991 order, the apex court had directed the UGC to prescribe a course on environment in graduation and postgraduation and consider the feasibility of making it a compulsory subject at every level in college education.

The court had said as far as education till the college level is concerned, “we would require every state government and every education board connected with education” up to matriculation or even intermediate colleges to immediately take steps to enforce compulsory education on environment “in a graded way”.

The court had directed introduction of the subject for the academic year 1992-93. It also made it mandatory for cinema halls to exhibit free of cost at least two slides on the importance of protecting the environment and asked authorities to cancel the licences of theatres that did not comply with the order.

On September 22 this year, the court imposed a fine of Rs 15,000 each on 10 states — Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Bengal — for not responding to the court’s notice and directed them to file affidavits regarding implementation of the 1991 order.

Asked about today’s directive, Rajput welcomed it. “This is a positive step and will bring about a change in the attitude of the students,” the NCERT director said.

“We have been asking for a reduction in the curriculum load and will keep this in mind while deciding the contents of the new subject.”

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