The legal and regulatory framework for
environmental protection in India
Legislation for environmental protection in India
Water quality standards especially those for drinking water are set by the Indian Council of Medical Research. These bear close resemblance to WHO standards. The discharge of industrial effluents is regulated by the Indian Standard Codes and recently, water quality standards for coastal water marine outfalls have also been specified. In addition to the general standards, certain specific standards have been developed for effluent discharges from industries such as, iron and steel, aluminium, pulp and paper, oil refineries, petrochemicals and thermal power plants. Legislation to control water pollution are listed below. Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
This Act represented India�s first attempts to comprehensively deal with environmental issues. The Act prohibits the discharge of pollutants into water bodies beyond a given standard, and lays down penalties for non-compliance. The Act was amended in 1988 to conform closely to the provisions of the EPA, 1986. It set up the CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board) which lays down standards for the prevention and control of water pollution. At the State level, the SPCBs (State Pollution Control Board) function under the direction of the CPCB and the state government. Air
Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981
To counter the problems associated with air pollution, ambient air quality standards were established, under the 1981 Act. The Act provides means for the control and abatement of air pollution. The 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. Under the Act establishing or operating of any industrial plant in the pollution control area requires consent from state boards. The boards are also expected to test the air in air pollution control areas, inspect pollution control equipment, and manufacturing processes. National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for major pollutants were notified by the CPCB in April 1994. These are deemed to be levels of air quality necessary with an adequate margin of safety, to protect public health, vegetation and property (CPCB 1995 cited in Gupta, 1999). The NAAQS prescribe specific standards for industrial, residential, rural and other sensitive areas. Industry-specific emission standards have also been developed for iron and steel plants, cement plants, fertilizer plants, oil refineries and the aluminium industry. The ambient quality standards prescribed in India are similar to those prevailing in many developed and developing countries. To empower the central and state pollution boards to meet grave emergencies, the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Amendment Act, 1987, was enacted. The boards were authorized to take immediate measures to tackle such emergencies and recover the expenses incurred from the offenders. The power to cancel consent for non-fulfilment of the conditions prescribed has also been emphasized in the Air Act Amendment. The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Rules formulated in 1982, defined the procedures for conducting meetings of the boards, the powers of the presiding officers, decision-making, the quorum; manner in which the records of the meeting were to be set etc. They also prescribed the manner and the purpose of seeking assistance from specialists and the fee to be paid to them. Complementing the above Acts is the Atomic Energy Act of 1982, which was introduced to deal with radioactive waste. In 1988, the Motor Vehicles Act, was enacted to regulate vehicular traffic, besides ensuring proper packaging, labelling and transportation of the hazardous wastes. Various aspects of vehicular pollution have also been notified under the EPA of 1986. Mass emission standards were notified in 1990, which were made...