M.C. Mehta of India

The work of M.C. Mehta, longtime environmental crusader and ELAW partner, is the topic of a new short film titled ‘The man who saved the Taj Mahal,’ directed by Canadian filmmaker, Jay Bajaj. The film was screened last week at the 41st International Film Festival of India.

The film highlights M.C.’s first environmental case in the Supreme Court of India, which eventually led to the installation of pollution controls on hundreds of polluting factories and industries near the Taj Mahal. Hundreds more, which did not install the proper controls, were eventually closed.

“Mehta has spent all his life fighting for the cause. If he would have been in America, he would have been world’s richest lawyer of class action suits. Here he fights all this from his own pocket. He is a true crusader,” Bajaj says.

In addition to his work saving the Taj Mahal, M.C. has worked tirelessly to protect the Ganges River from nearby polluting industries and protect the health of the public who often use the river for bathing and drinking. He filed a lawsuit to reduce vehicle emissions, where the court eventually ordered authorities to replace Delhi’s entire diesel fleet with 10,000 natural gas-powered buses. He has also worked to ban industrial shrimp farming along India’s coastline.

In 1996, M.C. Mehta won the Goldman Environmental Prize for his precedent setting work in India.

M.C. has promoted environmental education for many years. In 1991, he won a case in the Supreme Court ruling that all schools in India must offer environmental education. M.C. is building an “eco-ashram” in the foothills of the Himalayas. ELAW Director and co-founder, John Bonine, wrote a personal account of a 2002 visit with M.C. at his Himalayan retreat. John and M.C. attended a peaceful ceremony on the Ganga River. “What could be worse than defiling Mother Ganga by throwing pollution into her currents?” said M.C.