The Indian Environment Act
This Environment Act (29 of 1986) was enacted on 23-5-1986. It came into force from 19-11-1986 in the whole of India. It has 4 chapters and 26 sections.
The Statement of objects and Reasons for the Act identifies the need for general legislation on environmental protection to enable coordination of activities of the various regulatory agencies, creation of an authority which will assume a lead role for studying, planning and implementing long-term requirements of environmental safety and give direction to and coordinate a system of speedy and adequate response to emergency situations threatening the environment. Its preamble states that it is an Act to provide for the protection and improvement of environment and for matters connected therewith.
Chapter – I : Preliminary (S. 1, 2): Environment Act
Some definitions are as under the Environment Act
The environment includes water-air and land and the inter-relationship which exists among and between water, air and land and human beings, other living creatures, plants, micro-organism and property [S.2 (a)].
Environmental pollutant means any solid, liquid or gaseous substance present in such concentration as to be injurious to environment, [S. 2(b)].
Environmental pollution means the presence of any environmental pollutant in the environment, [S. 2 (c)].
Handling in relation to any substance means the manufacture, processing, treatment, package, storage, transportation, use, collection, destruction, conversion, offering for sale, transfer or the like of such substance S. 2 (d)j.
Hazardous Substance means any substance or preparation which by reason of its chemical or physiochemical properties or handling is liable to cause harm to human beings, other living creatures, plant, microorganism, property or the environment, [S. 2 (e)].
Chapter – I i: General Powers of the Central Government (S. 3 to 6)
The Central Government has power to take all necessary measures to protect and improve the quality of the environment and to prevent, control and abate environmental pollution, coordinate action by the State Government, officers and other authorities and has power of planning and execution of a nationwide program, laying down standards for the quality of environment, standards for emission of pollutants, procedures and safeguards for the prevention of accidents which may cause environmental pollution and for the handling of hazardous substances, examination of process, materials and substances and empowering officers for that, carrying out research and investigation, establishing environmental laboratories, collection and dissemination of information, preparation of manuals, codes or guides for prevention, control and abatement of environment pollution and constituting authorities to carry out these functions (S.3). The Central Government can appoint officers for above purposes (S.4), can give directions to any persons, officer or authority including the direction of closure, prohibition or regulation of any industry, operation or process or stoppage or regulation of supply of electricity, water or any other service (S.5). It has the power to make rules (S.6, 25, 26) and the power to delegate its powers and functions (S.23).
Chapter-III: Prevention, Control, and Abatement of Pollution (S. 7 to 17):
Environmental pollutants in excess of standard prescribed shall not be discharged (S. 7). while handling hazardous substance prescribed procedure and safeguards shall be followed (S. 8). The excess discharge shall be forthwith reported to the authorities and steps shall be taken to prevent or mitigate such accident pollution. The authorities shall also take similar steps at tie cost of the person concerned (S. 9).
Persons empowered by the Central government have powers of entry and inspection, examination and testing of any equipment, industrial plant, record, register, document material, etc. (S. 10), to take samples of air, water, soil or other substance from any factory, premises or other & place in a manner prescribed and to send them to tie laboratory for analysis (S. Ii), to establish environmental laboratories (S. 12). Sec. 14 is regarding Central Analysts (S. 13) whose report can be produced as evidence in the proceeding under this Act, (S. 14).
Provisions are made for the penalty (S. 15) and offenses by companies (S. 16) and Government Department (S. 17).
Chapter – IV Miscellaneous (S. 18 to 26)
Provisions are made for the protection of action in good faith (S. 18). Cognizance of offenses by the authority as well as any persons who have given notice of at least 60 days of the alleged offense and his intention to complain to the authority concerned (S. 19). Information, reports or return (S. 20) and no civil court has any jurisdiction in respect of anything done by the authority or the Central Government (S. 22). This Act has overriding effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent with any other Act but if any offense is punishable under this Act and also under any other Act, then the offender shall be punished under the other Act and not under this Act (S. 24).
Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986
The Central Government u/s 6 & 25 of the Environment (protection) Act made these rules effective from 19-11-1996. They were amended in 1987, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993 and from 1996 to 2006 every year.
They have 14 rules, 7 Schedules, (No. 2 omitted) 4 Annexure under schedule-IV, 5 Forms under Annexure A and different Notifications dating from 21-2-1991 and onwards specifying guidelines, area categories, requiring environmental clearance from the listed projects (Schedule) and forming the expert committees for environmental impact assessment. An abstract of provisions is as under:
Areas mean all areas where the hazardous substance are handled. Recipient system means the part of the environment such as soil, water, air or other which receives the pollutants.
Central Board means the Central Pollution Control Board u/s 3 of the Water Act and State Board means a State Pollution Control Board u/s 4 of the Water Act or u/s of the Air Act.
Standards: The standards for emission or discharge of environmental pollutants are specified in the schedule I to IV. The Central or State Board may specify more stringent standards. These standards shall be complied with by an industry, operation or process within a period of one year of being so specified. The board can reduce this period. Industries, operations or processes not mentioned in Sch. I shall not exceed the general standards specified in Sch. VI. No emission or discharge shall exceed the relevant concentration set out in column (3) to (5) of Sch. VII of National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) (R. 3).
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