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Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - Pollution acts
POLLUTION CONTROL ACTS
AND REGULATIONS OF INDIA
Harish C. Sharma
In 1976, when the Indian parliament passed the 42nd
amendment to its constitution safeguarding the environment,
it became the first country in the world to do so. The
amendment was to “endeavor to protect and improve the
environment and to safeguard the forests and wild life of
the country.” It imposes a duty on every Indian citizen “to
protect and improve the natural environment including
forests, lakes, rivers, and wild life, and to have
compassion for living creatures.”
According to the Environment Protection Act of 1986,
Environment is that which includes the “inter-relationship
which exists among and between water, air, and land and
human beings, other living creatures, plants, micro-organism
Essentially, The Water (Prevention & Control) Act, 1974 can
be considered to be truly the first regulations. It has been
amended many times since then.
Basically, there are seven Pollution regulations.
1. The Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution)
Act, 1974, and its amendments;
2. The Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution)
Cess Act, 1974 and its amendments;
3. The Air (Prevention & Control of Pollution)
Act, 1981 and its amendments;
4. The Environment (Prevention) Act, 1986 and
(a) National Environmental Tribunal Act of
(b) National Environmental Appellate
Authority Act of 1997;
5. Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, July
6. The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991.
The Public Liability Insurance Act 1991 has been included as
the sixth environmental regulation because it is the first
regulation which gives some teeth to the other five
pollution regulations listed above.
THE CENTRAL AND STATE BOARDS
It was the Water Act of 1974 which established a Central
Pollution Board and a State Pollution Control Board.
Subsequently, the same Boards have been given the power to
govern all the pollution regulations passed since then and
any other to be put in regulations in the future.
Constitution and Authority of the Board
Pollution Boards are to be headed by a Chairman and a few
members who are all appointed. The Chairman as well as the
Board members are appointed by the respective governments.
The members to be appointed to the Boards are to be selected
from various interest groups such as Corporations, Public
Health Engineering, Agriculture, Forestry, Fishery, etc.
Basic purpose of these Boards are to advise their respective
governments on any matter concerning the prevention and
control of pollution in their area of jurisdiction. The
Central Board coordinates as well as oversees al the other
State Boards and their functions.
To implement any environmental pollution control act, the
Board has the power to obtain information “make surveys of
any area and gauge and keep records of the flow of volume...
of the stream.” It has the power to take samples, analyze
any matter from the industry. The Boards also have the
authority to establish or recognize any laboratory for
chemical analytical work.
THE WATER (PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF POLLUTION)
ACT, 1974 AND ITS AMENDMENTS
The purpose of this act is “to provide for the prevention
and control of water pollution and the maintenance or
restoring wholesomeness of water for the establishment, with
a view to carrying out the purpose of aforesaid of Boards
for the prevention and control of water pollution, for
conferring on and assigning to such Boards powers and
functions relating thereto and for matters connected
therewith.” This is the Act that established the Central and
a State Board and also the authority and power to constitute
as many committees as it feels essential to carry out
specific functions for it.
The Act specifically prohibits “any poisonous, noxious or
polluting matter’ into any stream or well. A consent from
the State Board is required for any type of new discharge
into any new stream or well. This also includes consent for
“temperature” discharges as done by cooling tower users. In
general, this means that a State consent or permit is
required for all types of intake and/or discharge of any
type of liquid or water either from a running stream or
Under these rules, “effluent standards to be complied with
by persons while causing discharge of sewage or sullage or
both” have been specified. Standards for small scale
industries have been specified separately.
Penalties for non-compliance with the permit or polluting in
any way are imprisonment for three months and fine of Rs.
10,000 (One US Dollar equals about thirty six Indian Rupees)
or fine up to Rs. 5,000 per day of violation or both plus
any expenses incurred by the Board for sampling, analysis,
inspection etc. These penalties can also be imposed for
“obstructing any person acting under the orders or direction
of the Board” or for “damages to any work or property of the
There are penalties also which extend up to seven years plus
other monetary fines for other similar offenses. Any
“director, manager, secretary or other officer of the
company may also be deemed to be guilty” if proved that the
offense occurred with their “consent or connivance.” In case
of the government, department head could be held liable.
The central as well as the state government can start a lab
to do analysis on samples of water or of sewage or trade
effluents for tests. A fee will be charged for these
The law can also stop or restrain a person from discharging
any pollutant to any stream or well “which is likely to
cause such pollution from so causing.” Imprisonment up to
three months and a fine up to Rs. 10,000 for every day of
violation during which such failure continues after the
conviction for first such offense.
THE WATER (PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF POLLUTION)
CESS ACT, 1977
This law provides for the levy and collection of a Cess on
water consumed by persons carrying on certain industries and
by local authorities, with a view to augment the resources
of the Central and State Boards for the prevention and
control of water pollution constituted under the Water
(Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.” Industries
were specified in Schedule I. They are:
1. Ferrous: Metallurgical industry
2. Non-Ferrous: Metallurgical industry
3. Mining industry
4. Ore processing industry
5. Petroleum industry
6. Petro-chemical industry
7. Chemical industry
8. Ceramic industry
9. Cement industry
13.Coal (including coke) industry
14.Power (thermal and diesel) generating industry
15.Processing of animal or vegetable products industry
Collection of Cess was based on the quantity of water
consumed. The State government had the authority to collect
the Cess from the industry.
The purpose of which water is consumed follows:
Purpose for which water is
Maximum Rate Under Sub
Section 2A of Section 3
1. Industrial Cooling,
spraying in mine pits or
2. Domestic purpose
3. Processing whereby water
gets polluted and the
pollutants are easily bio-
4. Processing whereby water
gets polluted and the
pollutants are not easily
bio-degradable and are toxic.
Two and one fourth of a
paisa per kilo litter (One
US penny equals about thirty
six Indian paisa).
Three paisa per kilo litter.
Seven and one half paisa per
Nine and a half paisa per
Under Rule 6, industry-wise maximum quantity of water usage
allowed has been specified.
THE AIR (PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF POLLUTION) ACT, 1981
This Act was passed for the “prevention, control and
abatement of air pollution.” This law defined an air
pollutant as “any solid, liquid or gaseous substance present
in the atmosphere in such concentration as may be or tend to
be injurious to human beings or other living creatures or
plants or property or environment.”
In this Act, power to declare air pollution, control areas
has been given to the state government after consulting the
State Board. By this, it may control or even prohibit
burning of certain materials in those specific areas.
This Act requires approval prior to operating any industrial
plant. Government may suggest “control equipment” prior to
giving its consent to any industry for its operation. It may
include chimney etc. In case there is any new technology for
emission control, then the Board may insist on this to being
installed. Standards specific to industries have been
Penalties were for a minimum of six months imprisonment to a
maximum of seven years and fine up to Rs. 5,000 for every
day during which contravention continues after conviction
for the first such contravention. This law makes it clear
that when offenses are committed by a company, its director,
manager, secretary or other officers could be held guilty
and punished accordingly.
THE ENVIRONMENT (PROTECTION ACT, 1986)
The Act was enacted to “provide for the protection and
improvement of environment and for matters connected
therewith.” this act defined environment which includes
“water, air, and land and the inter-relationship which
exists among and between “water, air and land, and human
beings, other living creatures, plants, micro-organisms and
property.” It also defined a hazardous substance as “any
substance or preparation which, by reason of its chemical or
physics-chemical properties, or handling, is liable to cause
harm to human beings, other living creatures, plants, micro-
organisms, property or the environment.”
This law enlists general powers of the central government
which included “all such measures as it deems necessary or
expedient for the purpose of protecting and improving the
quality of the environment and preventing, controlling and
abating environmental pollution.” The law also included “the
standards of quality of air, water, or soil for various
areas and purposes, the maximum allowable limits of
concentration of various environmental pollutants.
procedures and safeguards for the handling of hazardous
The Act also deals with prevention, control and abatement of
environmental pollution by specifying the restrictions
allowed to the discharge or emit any environmental pollutant
in excess of such standards as may be prescribed. Nor is
anyone allowed to handle hazardous substances except “as may
be prescribed.” In case of discharge of excess of any
material the industry must forthwith.
Under Section 3(1) and Rule 5(3)(d) of this Act, Coastal
Regulation Zone (CRZ) have been declared and which
restrictions on industries and processes have been imposed.
This restricts setting up or expansion of any industry.
“(a) Intimate the fact of such occurrence or
(b) be bound, if called upon, to render all assistance,
to such authorities or agencies.”
This law requires that all companies must have some sort of
a Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures Plan (SPCC).
Environmental auditing is required by this law starting in
1993. This report is to be submitted to the State Pollution
Control Board. The law indicates that the government may
“recognize one or more lab as environmental lab to carry out
Penalty for contravention of the act may be punishable by
imprisonment up to seven years or fine up to Rs 1 lakh (One
lakh equals one hundred thousand). Additional fine of up to
Rs 5,000 for every day of violation.
Specific standards for emission or discharge of
environmental pollutants from industries, operations or
processes have been specified. However, the government may
prohibit or limit certain emissions from specific locations
due to environmental factors.
It is under this Act that makes it mandatory for the
specified 29 industries which have investment beyond certain
threshold that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is
required. They require public hearings. The Amendment was
issued on January 27th
and subsequently amended on May 4,
1994. EIA was initially introduced for the River Valley
Projects in 1978-79. Also under this act, National
Environmental Tribunals Act of 1995 and National
Environmental Appellate Authority Act of 1997 were enacted.
National Environmental Tribunals Act of 1995
The National Environmental Tribunal Act of 1995 was enacted
to provide for strict liability for damages arising out of
any accident occurring while handling any hazardous
substance and for the establishment of a National
Environment Tribunal for effective and expeditious disposal
of cases arising from such accidents, with a view to giving
relief and compensation for damages to persons, property and
the environment and for matters connected therewith or
NATIONAL APPELLATE AUTHORITY ACT OF 1997
This Act has been enacted to “hear appeals with respect to
restriction of areas in which any industries, operations or
processes or class of industries, operations or process
shall not be carried out or shall be carried out subject to
certain safeguards under the Environment (Protection) Act,
1986 and for matters connected therewith or incidental
thereto.” According to Section 12 of the Act the Authority
shall not be bound by the procedure laid down in the code of
civil procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by the principles
of natural justice. Subject to the other provisions of this
Act and of any rules made by Central Government, the
Authority shall have power to regulate its own procedure,
including the fixing of places and times of its enquiry and
deciding whether to sit in public or private. Also, with the
effect from the date of establishment of the Authority, no
civil court or other authority shall have jurisdiction to
entertain any appeal in respect of any matter with which the
Authority is empowered by or under this Act.
HAZARDOUS WASTE (MANAGEMENT AND HANDLING)
RULES, July 1989
The Ministry of Environment and Forests came out with Wastes
(Management and Handling) Rules, July 1989 under the
Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. The main purpose for
promulgation of these Rules was for management and handling
of hazardous substances.
The basis of any environmental pollution has been the
generation and disposal of hazardous substances. To regulate
them, all the above regulations have been promulgated.
Proper disposal is probably the most important aspect of any
industry. For this reason, guidelines have been issued under
this set of rules.
I. Guidelines for Occupier/Generator of Hazardous Wastes
These rules apply to listed hazardous wastes. The occupier
or generator is required to take all the necessary steps for
proper handling and disposal of these chemicals. The
occupier or generator is also responsible “for collection,
reception, treatment, storage and disposal of these wastes
either himself or through the operator of a facility.”
The generator is allowed to store a maximum quantity of
10,000 Kilograms or a truck load, whichever is less of his
hazardous wastes on-site for a maximum period of 90 days.
They may extend the storage period under unforeseen
circumstances on a case-by-case basis. The occupier/
generator may be allowed to store their hazardous wastes
only in closed specified containers in the designated
When the hazardous waste are to be shipped for disposal, it
must be done through the use of manifest. This is to track
the waste from the point of its production until its final
disposal, sometimes referred to as “cradle to grave.”
II. Guidelines for Transportation of Hazardous Waste
The Board is required to register the authorized transports
for transportation of hazardous wastes only in the specified
transport vehicles. This is required to make sure that the
transports of the waste, such as drivers and helpers, are
sufficiently trained to respond to any spill, accident or
any other emergency situation that may develop during the
transit of the vehicle.
The law specifically prohibits import of hazardous wastes
for dumping and disposal into the country. However, import
of such wastes may be allowed for processing or re-use as
raw material. This must be approved by the Board before
import of the chemical.
III. Guidelines for Owner/Operator of Hazardous Waste,
Storage, Treatment and Disposal Facility
The Board is required to issue license to the owner/operator
of Hazardous Wastes Management facility for storage,
treatment and disposal after having verified their
technical, financial, and managerial capabilities.
These sites are on an approved location taking into
consideration factors such as the damage to the environment
in case of a spill or any other accident. Licenses to such
sites are to be given after due inspection of the facility
at the time of construction and operation and also closure
of landfill facility.
The Board has to identify and establish standards for
Principal Organic Hazardous Constituents (POHC) for stack
emissions from incinerator. Also, the Board is to monitor
the stack emissions, effluent and ground water quality
Each hazardous waste management facility must have an
approved Emergency/Contingency Plan which must have been
duly approved by the Board. The Board is required to inspect
the facility after any incident for appropriate measures
taken in order to avert such incidents and also to make sure
that the Emergency/Contingency Plan is modified accordingly.
It is the responsibility of the waste facility to make sure
that the copy of the manifest reaches the authorities after
receiving the hazardous waste from the occupier/generator.
The owner/operator should indicate the proposed treatment
and disposal scheme to be followed for the hazardous waste.
The copy of the manifest should be linked with the copy of
the manifest sent by the occupier/generator. This is to make
sure that the waste has been delivered from the “cradle to
THE PUBLIC LIABILITY INSURANCE ACT, 1991
The purpose of this Act is “to provide for public liability
insurance for the purpose of providing immediate relief to
the persons affected by accident occurring while handling
any hazardous substance and for matters connected therewith
or incidental thereto.
The Act defines an “accident” as involving a fortuitous,
sudden or unintentional occurrence while handling any
hazardous substance resulting in continuous damage to any
property but does not include an accident by reason only of
war or radioactivity.
For the first time, this Act holds the owner liable for
death or injury to any person, damage to any property
resulting from an accident. The “claimant shall not be
required to plead and establish that death, injury or damage
in respect of which the claim has been made was due to any
wrongful act. neglect or default of any person. Only Workman
has been excluded from this Act as he is covered under the
Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923 (8 of 1923).
The Owner is required to take out insurance policies so that
he can give relief under sub-section (1) of section 3. This
insurance is required within a period of one year from such
commencement. Minimum amount of insurance is the paid-up
capital of the undertaking handling any hazardous substance
or Rs. 5 crores maximum. Penalty for not taking insurance
coverage is imprisonment for one year and six months and
fine of not less than one lakh rupees or both.
Under this Act, Environment Relief Fund has been
established. This fund may be used in case of any emergency.
Non-compliance is punishable by 3 months imprisonment or
fine which may extend to Rupees ten thousand or both.
Medical expenses are also payable under this Act.
This Act provides for immediate relief of Rs. 25,000 per
person in case of death and Rs. 12,500 in case of injury to
be paid immediately. This amount is payable by the insurance
coverage of the spiller or the company where the accident
has occurred. Additional compensation, if any, will have to
be settled through court.
List of chemicals with quantities for Application of Public
Liability Insurance Act are specified. It also lists
chemicals which are extremely hazardous.
POLLUTION FROM AUTOMOBILES AND THEIR STANDARDS
To combat this increasing pollution from vehicles, new and
tougher auto standards are being enforced. The Environment
(Pollution) Rules, 1986 contain these regulations.
The standards recommended during idling for all four wheeled
petrol driven vehicles for carbon monoxide shall not exceed
3 percent by volume. Idling carbon monoxide emission limit
for all two and three wheeled petrol driven vehicles shall
not exceed 4.5 percent by volume.
Cars with mass less than 1,020 kg. load on the axle will be
permitted to emit a maximum of five grams of carbon monoxide
per kilometer. The combined emission of nitrous oxide and
hydro carbons shall not exceed 2 grams per kilometer.
The above standards are for petrol driven vehicles only. For
diesel driven vehicles, the regulations are different. For
all medium and heavy diesel vehicles with capacity over 3.5
tons, they should not emit more than 11.2 gms. of carbon
monoxide per kilowatt hour (kWh) equivalent burning of fuel.
The maximum permissible levels for nitrous oxide and hydro
carbons are 14.4 and 2.4 gms. per kWh.
The Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India
now also issues the ECOMARK notifications. They are issued
to consumer products that meet certain Indian Standards
Institute guidelines. The product should be friendly to the
OTHER REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS
As per Ministry of Environment and Forest notification dated
March 13, 1992, environmental audit is required for every
industry, operation or process requiring consent to operate
under Section 25 of the Water (Prevention and Control of
Pollution) Act, 1974 (6 of 1974) or under section 21 of the
Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 (14 of
1981), or both, or authorization under the Hazardous Wastes
(Management and Handling) Rules, 1989, issued under the
Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (29 of 1986). The
notification requires that an Environmental Statement for
the financial year ending on the 31st March be submitted to
the concerned State Pollution Control Board on or before the
30th September of the same year.
Besides the above regulations, the government has issued
many policies. Some of them are:
The National Forest Policy
The National Wild Life Action Plan
Forest (Conservation) Act
The Policy Statement for Abatement of Pollution
The National Conservation Strategy and Policy Statement
on Environment and Development
Regulatory agencies are now enforcing the regulations more
and more. They have taken many industries to the courts
enabling many landmark decisions to come out in support of
enforcement of these regulations. In 1987, Mr. Justice P.N.
Bhagwati enforced the “Polluter pays” principle. In April
1996, the Supreme Court ordered the closure of 513 polluting
India’s approach for the safeguard of the environment was
summed up by Mahatma Gandhi when he said, “Earth has enough
to cater to our needs, but it surely will not put up with
LIST OF PROJECTS REQUIRING ENVIRONMENTAL CLEARANCE FROM THE
1. Nuclear Power and related projects such as Heavy Water
Plants, Nuclear Fuel Complex, Rare Earths.
2. River Valley projects including hydelpower, major
irrigation and their combination including flood control.
3. Ports, Harbors, Airports (except minor ports and
4. Petroleum Refineries including crude and product
5. Chemical Fertilizers (Nitrogenous and Phosphates other
than single super phosphate).
6. Pesticides (Technical).
7. Petrochemical complexes (Both Olefinic and aromatic) and
Petro-chemical intermediates such as DMT, Caprolactam LAB
etc. and production of basic plastics such as LLDPE, HDPE,
8. Bulk drugs and pharmaceuticals.
9. Exploration for oil and gas and their production,
transportation and storage.
10. Synthetic Rubber.
11. Asbestos and Asbestos products.
12. Hydrocyanic acid and its derivatives
13. (I) Primary metallurgical industries (such as production
of Iron and Steel, Aluminum, Copper Zinc, Lead and Ferro
Alloys) and also
(ii) Electric arc furnaces (Mini Steel Plants).
14. Chlor-alkali industry.
15. Integrated paint complex including manufacture of resins
and basic raw materials required in the manufacture of
16. Viscose Staple fiber and filament yarn.
17. Storage batteries integrated with manufacture of oxides
of lead and lead antimony alloys.
18. All tourism projects between 200m - 500 meters of High
Water Lin and at locations with an elevation of more than
1,000 Meters with investment of more than Rs. 5 crores.
19. Thermal Power Plants.
20. Mining Projects (major minerals) with leases more than 5
21. Highway Projects.
22. Tarred Roads in Himalayan and or Forest areas.
24. Raw Skins and Hides.
25. Pulp, Paper and newsprint,
28. Foundries (individual).
INDUSTRIES WHICH REQUIRE INDUSTRIAL LICENSING
1. Coal and Lignite
2. Petroleum (other than crude) and its distillation
3. Distillation and brewing of alcoholic drinks.
5. Animal fats and oils and their preparations
6. Cigars and cigarettes of tobacco and manufactured tobacco
7. Asbestos and asbestos-based products.
8. Plywood, decorative veneers and other wood based products
such as particle-board, medium density fiberboard, and block
10. Tanned or dressed furskins.
11. Paper and Newsprint except bagasse based unit. (i.e.
except units based on minimum 75% pulp from agricultural
residues, bagasse and other non-conventional raw materials).
12. Electronic aerospace and defense equipment all types.
13. Industrial explosives including detonating fuses, safety
fuses, gun powder, nitrocellulose and matches, explosives;
pyrotechnic products; matches; pyrophoric alloys; certain
14. Drugs and Pharmaceuticals (according to Drug Policy)
15. Entertainment electronics (VCRs, color TVs, CD players,
LIST OF POLLUTING INDUSTRIES
1. Primary metallurgical producing industries viz. zinc,
lead, copper, aluminum and steel.
2. Paper, pulp and newsprint
8. Leather tanning
10. Sodium/potassium cyanide
11. Basic drugs
13. Storage Batteries (lead acid type)
16. Rubber - synthetic
19. Fermentation industry
20. Electro-plating industry.
One US Dollar equals about forty-three Indian Rupees
One Indian Rupee has one hundred paisa
One Lakh equals one hundred thousand
One Crore equals ten million.
These are not the actual wordings of the Act nor is this the
listing of the Act in original.
It is only an interpretation of the environmental acts in
very simple terms. This is to facilitate understanding of
the laws by a working person. For actual regulations and for
legal requirements, the regulations with latest amendments
must be read in original and/or a lawyer must be consulted.
Words from the Act itself have been very freely quoted.
The author works at DOE Albuquerque Operations Office. The
views expressed in this article are his own. He Would
appreciate any comments, suggestions on this article.
Sharma H. C., “ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION COMPLIANCE”, CBS
Publishers, New Delhi, India. 1994.
Sharma H. C., “A Dictionary of Environmental Terms (With
Hindi Translation)”, CBS Publishers, New Delhi, India. 1999.