Man has tried to take nature to a considerable extent and his endeavour to conquer nature has succeeded. The concern over the environment has grown as the quality is degrading. It has been evidenced by increasing pollution, the loss of biodiversity, loss of vegetal cover, growing risks of environmental accidents and also the harmful chemicals in the ambient atmosphere has possessed a threat to the environment.
Environment Protection Act,1986 is an Act of the Parliament of India. In the wake of the Bhopal Tragedy, the Government of India enacted the Environment Protection Act of 1986 under Article 253 of the Constitution. Passed in March 1986, it came into force on 19 November 1986. It has 26 sections and 4 chapters. The purpose of the Act is to implement the decisions of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment. They relate to the protection and improvement of the human environment and the prevention of hazards to human beings, other living creatures, plants and property. The Act is an “umbrella” legislation designed to provide a framework for central government coordination of the activities of various central and state authorities established under previous laws, such as the Water Act and the Air Act.
It was enacted under Article 253 of the Indian constitution and the expression in the say of environmental quality was taken at the United Nation Conference on the Human Environment held at Stockholm in June 1972. The government of India strongly voiced against the environmental concerns and further passed many Acts related to the environment.
This act was enacted by the Parliament of India in 1986. As the introduction says, “An Act to provide for the protection and improvement of environment and for matters connected there with: WHEREAS the decisions were taken at the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held at Stokholm in June, 1972, in which India participated, to take appropriate steps for the protection and improvement of human environment. AND WHEREAS it is considered necessary further to implement the decisions aforesaid in so far as they relate to the protection and improvement of environment and the prevention of hazards to human beings, other living creatures, plants and property”. This was due to Bhopal Gas Tragedy which was considered as the worst industrial tragedy in India.
The Environmental Protection Act, 1986 (EPA) was passed with the following objects:
(i) It was enacted to implement the decisions which were made at the United Nation Conference on the Human Environment held at Stockholm in June 1972.
(ii) Creation of authority for government protection.
(iii) Coordinating the activities of various regulating agencies which is done under the existing law.
(iv) The main task is to enact general laws for environmental protection, which could be unfolded in areas of severe environmental hazards.
(v) Providing deterrent punishment to those who inculcate in endangering the human environment, safety and health.
(vi) The main goal for the environment should be sustainable development and it can be regarded as one of the goals for Environment Protection Act, 1986.
(vii) Sustainable development includes achieving the object and the purpose of the act as well as the protection of life under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
Scope and commencement of the Act
The Environment Protection Act, 1986 extends to whole India and it came into force on 19th November.
Section 2 of the Environmental protection Act, 1986 (EPA) deals with some of the information about the definition of the Act and these definitions are as follows:
“Environment” the word environment includes water, air, land and also the inter-relation between their existence. It also includes human beings and other living creatures such as plants, micro-organisms and property.
“Environmental Pollutants” means any substance in solid, liquid or gaseous form which in consideration is injurious to the health of living beings.
“Handling” means any substance which is in the relation of being manufactured, processed, collected, used, offered for sale or like of such substance.
“Environmental Pollution” includes the presence of environmental pollutants in the environment.
“Hazardous substance” includes the substance or the preparation by which the physical-chemical property is liable to harm the human beings or other living creatures such as plants, microorganisms and the property.
“Occupier” is in the relation of factory or any other premises which means a person who has control over the affairs of it.
From the above definitions given the Environmental protection Act tends to cover a wide range of matters related to the environment protection.
Power of the Central government for measures to protect and improve the Environment
It is the power vested in the central government that they can take any reasonable and valid steps and measures for the purpose of the protection and improvement of the quality of the environment. These measures are taken for the prevention, control and abatement of environmental Pollution.
Such measures may include measures with respect to all namely as follows.
- Laying down the standards for the quality of the standards of the environment.
- Coordination of actions which are obliged to the state officers and other authorities under any law.
- Execution and proper planning of the worldwide national programme for the prevention, controlling and the abatement of environmental pollution.
- Restrictions to be applied in any of the industries, process and any operation shall be carried out.
- It is the power and the duty of the government to lay down the procedure to carry forward safeguards for the prevention of many inevitable accidents which may inculcate in more environmental pollution.
- Proposal of remedies should be put forward for the protection and prevention of further incidents.
- Duty and power to lay down the procedures and safeguards to handle the hazardous substance.
- Examination of manufacturing processes should be done, materials, substances which are likely to cause environmental pollution.
- Power to inspect at various premises, equipment, material and the substances and power to direct the authorities for the prevention and control of environmental pollution.
- To collect the dissemination in the respect of information related to environmental pollution.
- Preparation of the manuals, codes, guides which are considered suitable enough for controlling environmental pollution.
- One of the most important tasks is to establish the laboratories.
- Serving other matters which are necessary for the central government to deal for the effective implementation of the Environmental Protection Act, 1986.
Under Section 3 of the following act, the central government has the power to authorize or constitute other authorities for the accurate implementation of powers and duties which are mentioned above.
Power to give direction
The central government in the exercise of powers designated by the Act can issue the directions in writing to any of the person or any officer. They shall be bound to comply with these given directions.
The powers to issue directions will include the power to direct which are as follows:
(i) The direction of closure, prohibition or the regulation of any industry and its operational process.
(ii)direction for the stoppage or regulation of the supply of electricity, including any other services.
The Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986
The rules of Environment protection came into force on 19th November 1986 and these rules provide for the following:
- The standards of quality of air, soil and water for various areas and purposes of environment.
- The standard set up to know about the limits of the environmental pollutants.
- Rules include the procedure and safeguards needed to handle the hazardous substance.
- Restrictions and some prohibitions on handling the hazardous substances in different areas and premise
- The procedures and safeguards required for the prevention of accidents which may cause environmental pollution and also the remedies for it.
- The prohibition and restrictions possessed on the location of industries in different areas.
Prevention, Abatement and Control of Environmental Pollution
Section 7 of the Environment Protection Act 1986 suggest that no person in the country shall be carrying any of the activity or operation in which there is a large emission of gases or other substances which may lead to excess environmental pollution.
Section 7 of the act provides certain standards that ought to be maintained in which it is a must that no person is allowed to damage the environment and if a person is found guilty for causing damage to the environment by polluting the pollution pay principle.
He can be asked for the ‘exemplary damages’ if he is found guilty of damaging the environment.
Section 8 provides that any person who is handling the hazardous substance needs to comply with the procedural safeguards.
If the emission is to a very large extent or is apprehended through an accident, the person responsible for it is obliged to mitigate from that place in order to reduce the environmental pollution.
He is also required to give an intimation to the higher authorities regarding the same and for that one receipt of remedies shall be required to prevent or to mitigate the environmental pollution.
In subsection (1), it is also provided that if a person wilfully delays or obstructs the person designated by the central government, he will be charged guilty under this act.