Methodology

Although our research is broad in terms of natural resources, ranging from water, forest, fisheries, biodiversity, mining, airquality, etc., the initial phase of our work is focused on various types of water resources. The laws governing water are at best underdeveloped in India, and the Indian courts have played a historic role in settling various cases related to water usage, conservation, and restoration. We have used the following methods and tools in our research so far.

Legal database searchOur team used various legal databases and conducted searches for water-related cases from the last 20 years. The selected cases encompass different types of environmental problems that impact water resources and have significant involvement of local people. Some of these projects or disputes were selected for in-depth case studies.

Case studies through field research Several field based case studies were conducted using primary quantitative and qualitative data collected from the affected community and other stakeholders. The analysis highlights community participation in environmental clearance processes, including EIA, and impacts of environmental litigation on the community.

Content analysis of legal cases Based on the secondary data collected from various sources, selected court cases are analysed to understand judicial impacts on the environment and marginalized groups. The analyses also highlightedthe intensity and quality of public participation, the role of the media, and the role of technical and legal experts in court decisions.

Consultation and interviews Several project sites and communities have been visited by our team to better understand the environmental problems at the heart of litigation, the concerns of poor and marginalized people and the forces that facilitated or hindered the PIL process. Our primary method of data collection involves interviews with community members, legal experts, NGOs and activists who are either directly involved in the selected cases or have expertise on the cases.

Literature review The project has drawn and continues to draw extensively on literature published on the environmentalism of the Indian Supreme Court, policy documents of selected state governments, reports of court appointed expert committees, investigative media reports, and interactions with scholars in India, Canada and elsewhere.