Sunday, 17 July 2022

Environmental laws in India

 Environmental laws in India’

The need for protection and conservation of environment and sustainable use of natural

resources is reflected in the constitutional framework of India and also in the international

commitments of India. The Constitution under Part IVA (Art 51A-Fundamental Duties) casts

a duty on every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including

forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures. Further, the

Constitution of India under Part IV (Art 48A-Directive Principles of State Policies) stipulates

that the State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard

the forests and wildlife of the country.

Several environment protection legislations existed even before Independence of India.

However, the true thrust for putting in force a well-developed framework came only after

the UN Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm, 1972). After the Stockholm

Conference, the National Council for Environmental Policy and Planning was set up in 1972

within the Department of Science and Technology to establish a regulatory body to look

after the environment-related issues. This Council later evolved into a full-fledged Ministry

of Environment and Forests (MoEF).

MoEF was established in 1985, which today is the apex administrative body in the country

for regulating and ensuring environmental protection and lays down the legal and

regulatory framework for the same. Since the 1970s, a number of environment legislations

have been put in place. The MoEF and the pollution control boards ("CPCB", ie, Central

Pollution Control Board and "SPCBs", ie, State Pollution Control Boards) together form the

regulatory and administrative core of the sector.

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

 The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010

 The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981

 The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974

 The Environment Protection Act, 1986

 The Hazardous Waste Management Regulations, etc.


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.

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