Environmental Protection Policy, Environmental Policy Instruments

The Environment Protection Act is an important legislation that provides for coordination of activities of the various regulatory agencies, creation of authorities with adequate powers for environmental protection, regulation of the discharge of environmental pollutants, handling of hazardous substances, etc. The Act provided an opportunity to extend legal protection to non-forest habitats (‘Ecologically Sensitive Areas’) such as grasslands, wetlands and coastal zones.The Environment (Protection) Act was enacted in 1986 with the objective of providing for the protection and improvement of the environment. It empowers the Central Government to establish authorities charged with the mandate of preventing environmental pollution in all its forms and to tackle specific environmental problems that are peculiar to different parts of the country.

The Environment Protection Act is an umbrella legislation that consolidated the provisions of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1974 and the Air (Prevention and Control of  Pollution) Act of 1981.  Within this framework of the legislations, the government established Pollution Control Boards (PCBs) in order to prevent, control, and abate environmental pollution.

Under the EPA, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification was introduced in 1994, it was modified in 2006 and the latest amendment was in 2009.  Under the EIA it has become mandatory to seek environmental clearance for several activities and industries with the involvement of the public as per procedure.

Main Features of The Environment Protection Act are:-

i) Co-ordination of actions by the State Governments, officers and other authorities

ii) Planning and execution of a nation-wide programme for the prevention, control and abatement of environmental pollution.

iii) Laying down standards for the quantity of environment in its various aspects.

iv) Laying down standards for emission or discharge of environmental pollutants from various sources whatsoever. Provided that different standards for emission or discharge may be laid down under this clause from different sources having regard to the quality or composition of the emission lr discharge of environmental pollutants from such sources.

v) Restriction of areas in which any industries, operations or processes or class of industries, operations or processes shall not be carried out or shall be carried out subject to certain safeguards.

vi) Laying down procedures and safeguards for the prevention of accidents which may cause environmental pollution and remedial measures for such accidents.

vii) Laying down procedures and safeguards for the handling of hazardous substances.

viii) Examination of such manufacturing processes, materials and substances as are likely to cause environmental pollution.

ix) Carrying out and sponsoring investigations and research relating to problems of environmental pollution.

x) Inspection of any premises, plant, equipment, machinery, manufacturing or other processes, materials or substances and giving, by order, of such directions to such authorities, officers or persons as it may consider necessary to take steps for the prevention, control and abatement of environmental pollution.

xi) Establishment or recognition of environmental laboratories and institutes to carry out the functions entrusted to such environmental laboratories and institutes under this Act.

xii) Collection and dissemination of information in respect of matters relating to environmental pollution.

xiii) Preparation of manuals, codes or guides relating to the prevention, control and abatement of environmental pollution.

The Water Prevention and Control of Pollution Act was enacted in 1974 to provide for the prevention and control of water pollution, and for the maintaining or restoring of wholesomeness of water in the country. The Act was amended in 1988. 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. This cess is collected with a view to augment the resources of the Central Board and the State Boards for the prevention and control of water pollution constituted under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.

The main purpose of The Water Prevention and Control of Pollution Act is to levy and collect cess on water consumed by certain categories of industry specified in the schedule appended to the Act. The money thus collected is used by CPCB and SPCBs to prevent and control water pollution.

The Water Prevention and Control of Pollution Act provides for constitution of central and State Boards for preventing water pollution, power to take water samples and their analysis, discharge of sewage or trade effluents, appeals, revision, minimum and maximum penalties, publication of names of offenders, offences by companies and Government departments, cognizance of offences, water laboratories, analysis etc.

Prevention and control of water pollution is achieved through a permit or ‘consent administration’ procedure. Discharge of effluents is permitted by obtaining the consent of the State Water Board, subject to any condition they specify. Any person who fails to comply with a directive of the State cannot, however, entertain in suit under this Act unless the suit is brought by, or with the sanction of the State Board.

Functions of Central Board:

1. Subject to the provisions of this Act, the main function of the Central Board shall be to promote cleanliness of streams and wells in different areas of the States.
2. In particular and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing function, the Central Board may perform all or any of the following functions, namely:

a) Advise the Central Government on any matter concerning the prevention and control of water pollution
b) Co-ordinate the activities of the State Boards and resolve disputes among them
c) Provide technical assistance and guidance to the State Boards, carry out and sponsor investigations and research relating to problems of water pollution and prevention, control or abatement of water pollution
d) Plan and organize the training of persons engaged or to be engaged in programmes for the prevention, control or abatement of water pollution on such terms and conditions as the Central Board may specify
e) Organize through mass media a comprehensive programme regarding the prevention and control of water pollution
(perform such of the functions of any State Board as may be specified in an order made under sub section(2) of Section 18)
f) Collect, compile and publish technical and statistical data relating to water pollution and the measures devised for its effective prevention and control and prepare manuals, codes or guides relating to treatment and disposal of sewage and trade effluents and disseminate information connected therewith
g) Lay down, modify or annul, in consultation with the State Government concerned, the standards for a stream or well
(Provided that different standards may be laid down for the same stream or well or for different streams or wells, having regard to the quality of waterflow characteristics of the stream or well and the nature of the use of the water in such stream or well or streams or wells)
h) Plan and cause to be executed a nation-wide programme for the prevention, control or abatement of water pollution
i) Perform such other functions as may be prescribed

3. The Board may establish or recognise a laboratory or laboratories to enable the Board to perform its functions under this section efficiently, including the analysis of samples of water from any stream or well or of samples of any sewage or trade effluents.

Functions of the State Boards:

a) To plan a comprehensive programme for the prevention, control or abatement of pollution of streams and wells in the State and to secure the execution thereof
b) To advise the State Government on any matter concerning the prevention, control or abatement of water pollution
c) To collect and disseminate information relating to water pollution and the prevention, control or abatement thereof
d) To encourage, conduct and participate in investigations and research relating to problems of water pollution and prevention, control or abatement of water pollution
e) To collaborate with the Central Board in organizing the training of persons engaged or to be engaged in programmes relating to prevention, control or abatement of water pollution and to organise mass education programmes relating thereto
f) To inspect sewage or trade effluents, works and plants for the treatment of sewage and trade effluents and to review plans, specifications or other data relating to plants set up for the treatment of water, works for the purification thereof and the system for the disposal of sewage or trade effluents or in connection with the grant of any consent as required by this Act
g) To lay down, modify or annul effluent standards for the sewage and trade effluents and for the quality of receiving waters (not being water in an inter-State stream) resulting from the discharge of effluents and to classify waters of the State
h) To evolve economical and reliable methods of treatment of sewage and trade effluents, having regard to the peculiar conditions of soils, climate and water resources of different regions and more especially the prevailing flow characteristics of water in streams and wells which render it impossible to attain even the minimum degree of dilution
i) To evolve methods of utilization of sewage and suitable trade effluents in agriculture) To evolve efficient methods of disposal of sewage and trade effluents on land, as are necessary on account of the predominant conditions of scant stream flows that do not provide for major part of the year the minimum degree of dilution
j) To lay down standards of treatment of sewage and trade effluents to be discharged into any particular stream taking into account the minimum fair weather dilution available in that stream and the tolerance limits of pollution permissible in the water of the stream, after the discharge of such effluents
k) To make, vary or revoke any order

i)?for the prevention, control or abatement of discharges of waste into streams or wells
ii)?requiring any person concerned to construct new systems for the disposal of sewage and trade effluents or to modify, alter or extend any such remedial measures as are necessary to prevent, control or abate water pollution

l) To lay down effluent standards to be complied with by persons while causing discharge of sewage or sullage or both and to lay down, modify or annul effluent standards for the sewage and trade effluents
m) To advise the State Government with respect to the location of any industry the carrying on of which is likely to pollute a stream or well
n) To perform such other functions as may be prescribed or as may, from time to time, be entrusted to it by the Central Board or the State Government.

The Air Prevention & Control of Pollution Act is an Act by Parliament to provide for the prevention, control and abatement of air pollution, for the establishment, with a view to carrying out the aforesaid purposes, of Boards, for conferring on and assigning to such Boards powers and functions relating thereto and for matters connected therewith.The objective of the Air Act 1981 is to prevent, control and reduce air pollution including noise pollution.

Under provisions of this Act, no person shall, without previous consent of the SPCB, establish or operate any industrial plant in air pollution control area the investor has to apply to the SPCB/Pollution Control Committee (PCB) to consent. No person operating any industrial plant shall emit any air pollution in excess of the standards laid down by the SPCB and have to comply with the stipulated conditions.

Under section-19 of The Air Prevention & Control of Pollution, the State Government  may with the help of  the State Board declare air pollution control areas, alter any air pollution control area or declare a new air pollution control area after altering the existing areas. Air Pollution Act states that no person shall, without the previous consent of the State Board, establish or operate any industrial plant in an Air Pollution Control Area. No person operating any industrial plant, in any air pollution control area shall discharge or cause or permit to be discharged the emission of any air pollutant in excess of the standards laid down by the State Board.

State Government may  by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint, constitute a State Board for the Prevention and Control of Air Pollution under such name as may be specified in the notification, to exercise the powers conferred on, and perform the functions assigned to, that Board under The Air Prevention & Control of Pollution.State Board has following:-

(a) a Chairman, being a person, having a person having special knowledge or practical experience in respect of matters relating to environmental protection, to be nominated by the State Government.

(b) such number of officials, not exceeding five, as the State Government may think fit, to be nominated by the State Government to represent that government;

(c) such number of persons, not exceeding five, as the State Government may think fit, to be nominated by the State Government from amongst the members of the local authorities functioning within the State;

(d) such number of non-officials, not exceeding three, as the State Government may think fit, to be nominated by the State Government to represent the interest of agriculture, fishery or industry or trade or labour or any other interest, which in the opinion of that government, ought to be represented;

(e) two persons to represent the companies or corporations owned, controlled or managed by the State Government, to be nominated by that Government

Main Functions of Central Board under The Air Prevention & Control of Pollution are:-

(a) advise the Central Government on any matter concerning the improvement of the quality of air and the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution;

(b) plan and cause to be executed a nation-wide programme for the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution;

(c) co-ordinate the activities of the State and resolve disputes among them;

(d) provide technical assistance and guidance to the State Boards, carry out and sponsor investigations and research relating to problems of air pollution and prevention, control or abatement of air pollution;

(e) plan and organise the training of persons engaged or to be engaged in programmes for the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution on such terms and conditions as the Central Board may specify;

(f) organise through mass media a comprehensive programme regarding the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution;

(g) collect, compile and publish technical and statistical data relating to air pollution and the measures devised for its effective prevention, control or abatement and prepare manuals, codes or guides relating to prevention, control or abatement of air pollution;

(h) lay down standards for the quality of air.,

(i) collect and disseminate information in respect of matters relating to air pollution;

(j) perform such other functions as may be prescribed.

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