ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION ACT
- January 23, 2021
- Posted by: admin1
- Category: DPN Topics
ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION ACT
Subject : National Legislations
Context : The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has landed in trouble in the Karnataka High Court for claiming in a submission that the Environment Protection Act, 1986 was “passed by Parliament not only for protection of environment but also at the instance of foreign powers” while referring to a UN conference.
About the Act
- In the wake of the Bhopal tragedy, the government of India enacted the Environment Act of 1986.
- The purpose of the Act is to implement the decisions of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment of 1972.
- The decisions 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” for legislations designed to provide a framework for Central Government, coordination of the activities of various central and state authorities established under previous Acts, such as the Water Act and the Air Act.
- In this Act, main emphasis is given to “Environment”, defined to include water, air and land and the inter-relationships which exist among water, air and land and human beings and other living creatures, plants, micro-organisms and property.
- “Environmental pollution” is the presence of pollutant, defined as any solid, liquid or gaseous substance present in such a concentration as may be or may tend to be injurious to the environment.
- “Hazardous substances” include any substance or preparation, which may cause harm to human beings, other living creatures, plants, microorganisms, property or the environment.
- Through this Act Central Government gets full power for the purpose of protecting and improving the quality of the environment.
Main provisions of the Act
- The Act empowers the centre to “take all such measures as it deems necessary”.
- The Act explicitly prohibits discharges of environmental pollutants in excess of prescribed regulatory standards.
- There is also a specific prohibition against handling hazardous substances except those in compliance with regulatory procedures and standards.
- The Act provides provision for penalties. For each failure or contravention, the punishment included a prison term up to five years or fine up to Rs. 1 lakh, or both.
- The Act imposed an additional fine of up to Rs. 5,000 for every day of continuing violation.
- If a failure or contravention occurs for more than one year, offender may be punished with imprisonment which may be extended to seven years.
- Section 19 provides that any person, in addition to authorized government officials, may file a complaint with a court alleging an offence under the Act.
- This “Citizens’ Suit” provision requires that the person has to give notice of not less than 60 days of the alleged offence of pollution to the Central Government.