Fifty years after the initiation of industrialization and continued
population pressure on the environment & resources of India,
it has resulted in environmental degradation or deterioration. There
has been depletion of forests, soil erosion, ground water depletion,
contamination of soil and water in certain areas and degradation
in ambient air quality. In addition to problems created locally,
India also has to cope with issues related to global environmental
concerns on global warming and ozone layer depletion.
In the Constitution of India it is clearly stated that it is the
duty of the state to 'protect and improve the environment and to
safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country'. It imposes a
duty on every citizen 'to protect and improve the natural environment
including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife'. Reference to the
environment has also been made in the Directive Principles of State
Policy as well as the Fundamental Rights.
The constitutional provisions are backed by a number of laws- acts,
rules, and notifications. India has awakened towards the need
to conserve and protect the environment & the forests of the
country. As a result, over the last two decades several environmental
laws came into existence as the problems began arising. Between
1980- 1998, nine Acts, Bills and Amendments were enacted. Prominent
amongst these Acts are the Forest Conservation Act 1980, The
Environment Protection Act 1986, The National Environment
Appellate Authority Act 1997 and the Coastal Regulation Zone notifications.
The EPA (Environment Protection Act) 1986 came into force soon after
the Bhopal Gas Tragedy and is considered an umbrella legislation
as it fills many gaps in the existing laws.
Mining, industry, power, river & hydro projects and other infrastructure
projects require comprehensive environmental impact assessment and
clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
A brief introduction of Environment Law
1986- The Environment (Protection) Act authorizes the central government
to protect and improve environmental quality, control and reduce
pollution from all sources, and prohibit or restrict the setting
and /or operation of any industrial facility on environmental grounds.
1986- The Environment (Protection) Rules lay down procedures for
setting standards of emission or discharge of environmental pollutants.
1989- The objective of Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling)
Rules is to control the generation, collection, treatment, import,
storage, and handling of hazardous waste.
1989- The Manufacture, Storage, and Import of Hazardous Rules define
the terms used in this context, and sets up an authority to inspect,
once a year, the industrial activity connected with hazardous chemicals
and isolated storage facilities.
1989- The Manufacture, Use, Import, Export, and Storage of Hazardous
Micro-organisms/ Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells Rules
were introduced with a view to protect the environment, nature,
and health, in connection with the application of gene technology
1991- The Public Liability Insurance Act and Rules and Amendment,
1992 was drawn up to provide for public liability insurance for
the purpose of providing immediate relief to the persons affected
by accident while handling any hazardous substance.
1995- The National Environmental Tribunal Act has been created
to award compensation for damages to persons, property, and the
environment arising from any activity involving hazardous substances.
1997- The National Environment Appellate Authority Act has been
created to hear appeals with respect to restrictions of areas in
which classes of industries etc are carried out or prescribed subject
to certain safeguards under the EPA.
1998- The Biomedical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules is a
legal binding on the health care institutions to streamline the
process of proper handling of hospital waste such as segregation,
disposal, collection, and treatment.
1999- The Environment (Siting for Industrial Projects) Rules, 1999
lay down detailed provisions relating to areas to be avoided for
siting of industries, precautionary measures to be taken for site
selecting as also the aspects of environmental protection which
should have been incorporated during the implementation of the industrial
2000- The Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules,
2000 apply to every municipal authority responsible for the collection,
segregation, storage, transportation, processing, and disposal of
municipal solid wastes.
2000- The Ozone Depleting Substances (Regulation and Control) Rules
have been laid down for the regulation of production and consumption
of ozone depleting substances.
2001- The Batteries (Management and Handling) Rules, 2001 rules
shall apply to every manufacturer, importer, re-conditioner, assembler,
dealer, auctioneer, consumer, and bulk consumer involved in the
manufacture, processing, sale, purchase, and use of batteries or
components so as to regulate and ensure the environmentally safe
disposal of used batteries.
2002- The Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) (Amendment)
Rules lay down such terms and conditions as are necessary to reduce
noise pollution, permit use of loud speakers or public address systems
during night hours (between 10:00 p.m. to 12:00 midnight) on or
during any cultural or religious festive occasion.
2002- The Biological Diversity Act is an act to provide for the
conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of its components,
and fair & equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of
the use of biological resources and knowledge associated with it
Forest and Wildlife related Legislation
1927- The Indian Forest Act and Amendment, 1984, is one of the
many surviving colonial statutes. It was enacted to 'consolidate
the laws related to forest, the transit of forest produce, and the
duty leviable on timber and other forest produce'.
1972- The Wildlife Protection Act, Rules 1973 and Amendment 1991
provides for the protection of birds and animals and for all matters
that are connected to it whether it be their habitat or the waterhole
or the forests that sustain them.
1980- The Forest (Conservation) Act and Rules, 1981, provides for
the protection of and the conservation of the forests.
Water related Legislation
1882- The Easement Act allows private rights to use a resource
that is, groundwater, by viewing it as an attachment to the land.
It also states that all surface water belongs to the state and is
a state property.
1897- The Indian Fisheries Act establishes two sets of penal offences
whereby the government can sue any person who uses dynamite or other
explosive substance in any way (whether coastal or inland) with
intent to catch or destroy any fish or poisonous fish in order to
1956- The River Boards Act enables the states to enroll the central
government in setting up an Advisory River Board to resolve issues
in inter-state cooperation.
1970- The Merchant Shipping Act aims to deal with waste arising
from ships along the coastal areas within a specified radius.
1974- The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act establishes
an institutional structure for preventing and abating water pollution.
It establishes standards for water quality and effluent. Polluting
industries must seek permission to discharge waste into effluent
bodies. The CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board) was constituted
under this act.
1977- The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act
provides for the levy and collection of cess or fees on water consuming
industries and local authorities.
1978- The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Rules
contains the standard definitions and indicates the kind of &
the location of meters that every consumer of water is required
1991- The Coastal Regulation Zone Notification puts regulations
on various activities, including construction. It gives some protection
to the backwaters and estuaries.
Air related Legislation
1948- The Factories Act and Amendment in 1987 was the first to
express concern for the working environment of the workers. The
amendment of 1987 has sharpened its environmental focus and expanded
its application to hazardous processes.
1981- The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act provides
for the control and abatement of air pollution. It entrusts the
power of enforcing this act to the CPCB .
1982- The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Rules defines
the procedures of the meetings of the Boards and the powers entrusted
1982- The Atomic Energy Act deals with the radioactive waste.
1987- The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Amendment Act
empowers the central and state pollution control boards to meet
with grave emergencies of air pollution.
1988- The Motor Vehicles Act states that all hazardous waste is
to be properly packaged, labelled, and transported.