The government formulated this act in 1974 to prevent the pollution of water by industrial, agricultural and household wastewater that can contaminate our water sources. Wastewaters with high levels of pollutants that enter wetlands, rivers, lakes, wells as well as the sea are serious health hazards.
Controlling the point sources by monitoring the levels of different pollutants is one way to prevent pollution, by punishing the polluter. Individuals can also do several things to reduce water pollution such as using biodegradable chemicals for household use, reducing the use of pesticides in gardens, and identifying polluting sources at work places and in industrial units where oil are or other petroleum products and heavy metals are used.
Excessive organic matter, sediments and infecting organism from hospital wastes can also pollute our water. Citizen needs to develop a watchdog force to inform authorities to appropriate actions against different types of water pollution. However, preventing pollution is better than trying to cure the problems it has created, or punishing offenders.
The main objectives of the Water Act are to provide for prevention, control and abatement of water pollution and the maintenance or restoration of the wholesomeness of water. It is designed to assess pollution levels and punish polluters. The Central Government and State Government have set up PCBs to monitor water pollution.
The Water Act, 1974 with certain amendments in 1978 is an extensive legislation with more than sixty sections for the prevention and control of water pollution. Among other things, the 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.
Water Pollution Cess Act, 1977 According to this Act, anyone consuming water has to pay certain amount of cess depending on:
- Whether the industry is using water for industrial cooling, spraying in mine pits or boilers feed,
- For domestic purposes.
- In processing, whereby water gets polluted and pollutants are easily biodegradable.
- In processing whereby water gets polluted and the pollutants are not easily bio-degradable and are toxic.
Those industries that had installed a suitable treatment plant for the treatment of industrial effluents can get a rebate of 70 per cent on the cess payable.