Published on: September 8, 2023



Why in news?  Maya Train project, connecting Caribbean with Maya sites  been described as a “megaproject of death” causing “crimes of ecocide and ethnocide”


What is ecocide?

  • Ecocide is derived from Greek and Latin, translates to “killing one’s home” or “environment”. There is no accepted legal definition of ecocide
  • Such ‘killing’ could include port expansion projects that destroy fragile marine life and local livelihoods, deforestation, illegal sand-mining and polluting rivers with untreated sewage.
  • Mexico is one of several countries mulling ecocide legislation.

What is the history of the Ecocide?

  • The biologist Arthur Galston in 1970 is credited with first linking environmental destruction with genocide, recognised as an international crime, referring to the U.S. military’s use of Agent Orange in the Vietnam War.
  • In 2010, International Criminal Court (ICC) urged to recognise ecocide as an international crime.
  • France is the first European country to consider passing a law to make ecocide as crime

What is ethnocide?

  • Ethnocide is the destruction of culture while keeping the people. The term was first coined by Raphael Lemkin in 1944. Lemkin was a Polish Jew and celebrated human rights attorney

 What has been India’s stance?

  • Some Indian judgments have affirmed the legal personhood of nature by recognising rivers as legal entities with the right to maintain their spirit, identity, and integrity.
  • Chandra CFS and Terminal Operators Pvt. Ltd. v. The Commissioner of Customs and Ors (2015): The Madras High Court noted: “the prohibitory activities of ecocide has been continuing unbridledly by certain section of people by removing the valuable and precious timbers”.
  • India’s legislative framework of environmental and ecological governance includes the Environmental (Protection) Act 1986, the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, and the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act (CAMPA) 2016, as well as separate Rules to prevent air and water pollution for prevention of ecological damage
  • N. Godavarman Thirumulpad vs Union of India & Ors Case– The Supreme Court argued that “environmental justice could be achieved only if we drift away from the principle of anthropocentric to ecocentric.”