The fault in our artificial stars: Efficacy of satellite surveillance systems in India's conservation efforts

Mishra, Shubham Prakash and Thakur, Shambhavi (2021) The fault in our artificial stars: Efficacy of satellite surveillance systems in India's conservation efforts. In: Technological issues under Environment Law. Gujarat National law University, Gujarat, pp. 4-18.

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In modern times, technology has intersected every field of study and research. Environmental law has thoroughly integrated technology in conservation and protection efforts under various national and state legislations. Under legislations such as the Wildlife Protection Act and the Forest Rights Act, satellite imagery is used for data collection to help the authorities study and analyse the need for protection in certain areas. It is labour free and cheaper compared to the infield, manual counting and surveying method. The authorities rely on it to take environmentally directed actions such as reservation of forests, preservation of species, or eviction of forest dwellers. The courts too have often relied on it to decide whether traditional forest dwellers adversely impact the forest and the wildlife and whether they should be evicted and relocated. Their popularity can be attributed to the fact that science and
technology enjoy the benefit of objectivity. Yet, as the Gujarat High Court noted in Action Research In v. the State of Gujarat, technologies such as satellite imagery are not infallible. It faces issues such as lack of clarity due to cloud cover, air pollution, and other externalities. Moreover, its interpretation requires skillsets and institutions which are not yet widely accessible or adequate. There are hurdles such as lack of access to resources by the stakeholders, insufficient training of the authorities, and an absence of a screening authority. The indiscriminate use of satellite imagery by the authorities has adverse implications for the forest-dwelling communities. It is used in reserving forests which leads to the large scale displacement of these communities, thereby substantially interfering with their traditional and cultural rights. In this paper, we will trace the use of satellite imagery by the courts in environmental cases. We will then analyse its evidentiary value and provide recommendations for improving its application.

Item Type: Book Section
Keywords: Satellite surveillance | Technology | Environmental law | Legislations
Subjects: Physical, Life and Health Sciences > Computer Science
Social Sciences and humanities > Social Sciences > Law and Legal Studies
JGU School/Centre: Jindal Global Law School
Depositing User: Mr Sombir Dahiya
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2022 12:18
Last Modified: 12 Mar 2022 12:18
Official URL:


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