Environmental Protection Law And Policy In India


Environmental pollution is not a new problem, not new in its origin. It is as old as the inception of mankind on the planet. However, different dimensions of environmental protection have taken a new turn in the present day. Mankind has so critically hampered the environment on a global scale which includes over-consumption, overpopulation, industrialization, urbanization, overexploitation of resources, depletion of traditional resources of energy, deforestation, to name but a few are some factors of deterioration of the environment.

Though man has achieved great progress in Science and technology, thus making man more powerful but it resulted in the naive use of power, encroaching endlessly on nature.

In India, it is a basic right to live a healthy life in the ambit of Article 21 but the acute poverty in the country requires an acceleration in the development process which can only be done at the cost of environmental exploitation. Thus endangering not only the present generation but also the future generation.

The need for protection and conservation of the environment and sustainable use of resources is clearly reflected in the Indian constitutional framework also in the international commitments of India (The Stockholm Declaration on Human Environment, Marine Environment Protection Committee, and many more). It is clearly mentioned in the constitution under Part IVA (Art 51A-Fundamental Duties) cast a duty on every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment and also in part IV (Art 48A-Directive Principles of State Policies) of the constitution states that the state shall endeavor to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forest and wildlife of the country.

India has taken many measures in the past to curb environmental pollution. Thus has formulated the different laws over the period of time to govern the environment.

Introduced Indian Wildlife Protection Act (1972) to protect biodiversity. It was amended multiple times. In 1988, the national forest policy had conservation as its fundamental principle.

Other than this the government passed the environment protection act (1986) and foreign trade act for sustainable biodiversity.

  1. Important Climate Change Laws in India
    1. The environment protection act 1986- is one of the most important legislation with respect to curbing climate change. The motive of this act was to implement the decisions of the UN conference on the human environment, they agreed on the improvement of the human environment and prevention of humans, plants, property, and other living creatures from the hazardous environment.
    2. The air prevention and control of pollution act 1981- it is established with the view to control and prevent air pollution in India and it also states to regulate the standards for the emission of air pollutants in India. No industries can operate without meeting the requirements established by the state (mentioned in the act).
    3. The national green tribunal act 2010- is an act of the parliament. This act established tribunals for the fast and effective disposals of cases that are related to the protection of the environment.
    4. The forest conservation act 1980- is sanctioned for the conservation of forests. After the enactment of this act, all forest property was reserved under the government of India. This act also gives power to the state to take compensatory measures when any reserved forest is directed for non-forest grounds.
    5. The water prevention and control of pollution act 1977- this act was enacted to prevent water pollution from industrial, agriculture, and household waste. The act also controls the cess paid on the consumption of water.
    6. The biodiversity act 2002- this act was decreed for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in the country and provides a technique for equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of traditional biological resources and knowledge. The Act was enacted to meet the obligations under Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), to which India is a party.
    7. The wildlife protection act 2002- Was Introduced to protect wildlife within the geographical territory of India.

Secondly, to establish a solid network of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.

  1. Constitutional elucidation on environment
    The 42nd amendment to the constitution of India put in Article 48A and 51(g) which under DPSP and fundamental duties.

    In the case Sachidananda Pandey V. State of West Bengal AIR 1987 SC 1109, Supreme Court stated that the courts are bound to bear in mind the above said articles whenever any case related to environmental problems comes up in court.

    Article 48A states that the state shall endeavor to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forest and wildlife of the country.
    Article 51A(g) this article imposes the duty on every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment of the country and grant the right to come before the court for redressal.

    1. Public Liability and Public Nuisance
      M. C Mehta and anr. etc v Union of India: This case is also known as the oleum gas leak case. It was a landmark in which the principle of absolute liability was established by the Supreme Court of India. The court clutched that permission for carrying out any hazardous industry close to human dwellings could not be given and the industry has to relocate.
      Due to this incident the parliament to add the new chapter to the factory act 1948. The public liability act was also passed. The policy for abetment of pollution control was also set up.


In India, the concern for environmental protection has raised impressively in the last past decade. Many measures have been taken by the Indian government to protect the environment and maintain an ecological balance in society. Many Laws have been developed and evolved whereby the quality of life of the individual has been enhanced. It is a basic human right to live in a pollution-free environment and live with nobility.

Although the government has taken many measures to curb environmental pollution, the need for conservation of the environment is clearly reflected in the Indian constitutional framework but still, there is a big need for improvement in the policies making and execution process. It is very much essential to generate a sense of civil consciousness. Strict enforcement of laws also is needed.

It is high time that the general public, Public entities private enterprises, state government, the central government should comprehend the damage that they have done and find a better way of maintaining the balance between the environment and society.

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