ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS IN INDIA by Udi Prakash

 

World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought on 17th July aims to create awareness about sustainable development and the welfare of people. The United Nations General Assembly in December 1994 acknowledged this day to spread awareness about the cooperation required to combat desertification and drought. 17th July of 2021 was commemorated with an amazing gesture by 100 women from each of the 33 village panchayats in Taranagar block in Rajasthan’s Churu district planted 5,100 saplings at the same time as part of a one-of-a-kind Harit Marubhumi (green dessert) campaign, the women pledged to treat the plants as “green members” of their families.

This gesture was made with an intention to emphasize the connection between humanity and nature making the tree an inseparable part of the “family consciousness,” which in turn brings every issue related to plants, trees, leaves, and the climate to the ecosystem for the purpose of generating environmental sensitivity and empowerment. In the light of this event here are some of the major environmental law legislatures that govern the environmental health of India.

Some of the important legislations for environment protection are as follows:

  1. The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010
  2. The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981
  3. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
  4. The Environment Protection Act, 1986
  5. The Hazardous Waste Management Regulations, etc.
  • THE NATIONAL GREEN TRIBUNAL ACT, 2010

The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 (No. 19 of 2010) (NGT Act) has been enacted with the objectives to provide for establishment of a National Green Tribunal (NGT) for the effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environment protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. The Act envisages establishment of NGT in order to deal with all environmental laws relating to air and water pollution, the Environment Protection Act, the Forest Conservation Act and the Biodiversity Act as have been set out in Schedule I of the NGT Act.

  • THE AIR (PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF POLLUTION) ACT, 1981

The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 (the “Air Act”) is an act to provide for the prevention, control and abatement of air pollution and for the establishment of Boards at the Central and State levels with a view to carrying out the aforesaid purposes.

To counter the problems associated with air pollution, ambient air quality standards were established under the Air Act. The Air Act seeks to combat air pollution by prohibiting the use of polluting fuels and substances, as well as by regulating appliances that give rise to air pollution.

  • THE WATER (PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF POLLUTION) ACT, 1974

The Water Prevention and Control of Pollution Act, 1974 (the “Water Act”) has been enacted to provide for the prevention and control of water pollution and to maintain or restore wholesomeness of water in the country. It further provides for the establishment of Boards for the prevention and control of water pollution with a view to carry out the aforesaid purposes. The Water Act prohibits the discharge of pollutants into water bodies beyond a given standard, and lays down penalties for non-compliance.

Further, the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act was enacted in 1977 to provide for the levy and collection of a cess on water consumed by persons operating and carrying on certain types of industrial activities.

  • THE ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION ACT, 1986

The Environment Protection Act, 1986 (the “Environment Act”) provides for the protection and improvement of environment. The Environment Protection Act establishes the framework for studying, planning and implementing long-term requirements of environmental safety and laying down a system of speedy and adequate response to situations threatening the environment. It is an umbrella legislation designed to provide a framework for the coordination of central and state authorities established under the Water Act, 1974 and the Air Act.

The term “environment” is understood in a very wide term under s 2(a) of the Environment Act. It includes water, air and land as well as the interrelationship which exists between water, air and land, and human beings, other living creatures, plants, micro-organisms and property.

Under the Environment Act, the Central Government is empowered to take measures necessary to protect and improve the quality of environment by setting standards for emissions and discharges of pollution in the atmosphere by any person carrying on an industry or activity; regulating the location of industries; management of hazardous wastes, and protection of public health and welfare. From time to time, the Central Government issues notifications under the Environment Act for the protection of ecologically-sensitive areas or issues guidelines for matters under the Environment Act.

  • HAZARDOUS WASTES MANAGEMENT REGULATIONS

Hazardous waste means any waste which, by reason of any of its physical, chemical, reactive, toxic, flammable, explosive or corrosive characteristics, causes danger or is likely to cause danger to health or environment, whether alone or when in contact with other wastes or substances.

  • THE WILDLIFE PROTECTION ACT, 1972

The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 was enacted with the objective of effectively protecting the wild life of this country and to control poaching, smuggling and illegal trade in wildlife and its derivatives. The Act was amended in January 2003 and punishment and penalty for offences under the Act have been made more stringent. The Ministry has proposed further amendments in the law by introducing more rigid measures to strengthen the Act. The objective is to provide protection to the listed endangered flora and fauna and ecologically important protected areas.

  • THE FOREST CONSERVATION ACT, 1980

The Forest Conservation Act, 1980 was enacted to help conserve the country’s forests. It strictly restricts and regulates the de-reservation of forests or use of forest land for non-forest purposes without the prior approval of Central Government. To this end the Act lays down the pre-requisites for the diversion of forest land for non-forest purposes.

The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, recognizes the rights of forest-dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers over the forest areas inhabited by them and provides a framework for according the same. The Indian Forest Act, 1927 consolidates the law relating to forests, the transit of forest-produce and the duty leviable on timber and other forest-produce.

  • PUBLIC LIABILITY INSURANCE ACT, 1991

The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991 was enacted with the objectives to provide for damages to victims of an accident which occurs as a result of handling any hazardous substance. The Act applies to all owners associated with the production or handling of any hazardous chemicals.)

  • THE BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY ACT, 2002

The Biological Diversity Act 2002 was born out of India’s attempt to realise the objectives enshrined in the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), 1992 which recognises the sovereign rights of states to use their own Biological Resources. The Act aims at the conservation of biological resources and associated knowledge as well as facilitating access to them in a sustainable manner. The National Biodiversity Authority in Chennai has been established for the purposes of implementing the objects of the Act.

 

 

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