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THE ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION ACT, 1986

(IN INDIA)
INTRODUCTION..
In 1980, the Deptt. of Environment was established in India. Later on it became the Ministry of
Environment and Forests in 1985. EPA,1986 came into force soon after the Bhopal Gas Tragedy.

OBJECTIVE
Objective is, to provide the protection and improvement of environment. In EPA, article 48A, specify that
the State shall protect and improve the environment.
Also, to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country. Acc. to sec 51(A) every citizen shall protect the
environment. EPA is applicable to whole India, including J&K.

IMPORTANT TERMINOLOGY.

Environment It includes water, air, and land and the interrelationship which exists among and
between water, air and land and human beings, other living creatures, plants, microorganism and
property. Environmental Pollutant means any solid, liquid or gaseous substance present in such
concentration as may be, or tend to be injurious to environment.

Environmental pollutant means any solid, liquid or gaseous substances present in such
concentration as may be or tend to be injurious to environment and human being. Hazardous Substance
means any substance or preparation which, by reasons of its chemical or physico-chemical properties, is
liable to cause harm to human beings or other living creatures. Handling In relation to any substance, it
means the manufacturing, processing, treatment, packaging, storage, transportation, use, collection,
destruction, conversion, offering for sale, etc

Environmental pollution means imbalance in environment. The materials or substances when


after mixing in air, water or land alters their properties in such manner, that the very use of all or any of
the air water and land by man and any other living organism becomes lethal and dangerous for health.
Occupier It means a person who has control over the affairs of the factory or the premises, and includes,
in relation to any substance, the person in possession of the substance.

Hazardous substance means any substance or preparation which, by reason of its chemical or
physico-chemical properties or handling, is liable to cause harm to human beings, other living creatures,
plant, micro-organism, property or the environment.

POWERS PROVIDED BY THE ACT TO CENTRAL GOVTT..


To make rules to regulate environmental pollution; To notify standards and maximum limits of pollutants
of air, water, and soil for various areas and purposes; Prohibition and restriction on the handling of
hazardous substances, and location of industries (Sections 3-6).
Under Sec (3): may constitute authority or authorities for the purpose of exercising of performing such of
the powers and functions; Under Sec (4): may appoint a person for inspection; Under Sec (5): may issue

directions in writing to any officers or any authority to comply; Under Sec (6): it empower the government
to make rules to achieve the object of the Act.
Under Sec (7): persons carrying on industry, operation etc. not to allow emission or discharge of
environmental pollutants in excess of the standards; Under Sec (8): persons handling hazardous
substances must comply with procedural safeguards.

PENALITY.
Whoever Person found to be the cause of pollution, may be liable for punishment for a term which may
extend to five years or with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees or both (Sec 15, 16, 17). If not
comply fine of Rs. 5000 per day extra, still if not comply for more than one year, then imprisonment may
extend up to 7 years.
Section 17 specifies that Head of the department/ incharge of small unit may be liable for punishment if
the owner /occupier produce enough evidence of innocence. The state govtt. have power to close or cancel
or deny the authorization to run the factory/institution/hospital whichever is causing pollution.

ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS.
Following is a list of the environmental legislations that have come into effect: General, Forest and
wildlife, Water, Air etc.

General.
1986 The Environment (Protection) Act; 1986 The Environment (Protection) Rules; 1989 The
objective of Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Rules; 1989 The Manufacture, Storage, and
Import of Hazardous Rules; 1989 The Manufacture, Use, Import, Export, and Storage of hazardous
Micro-organisms/ Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells Rules; 1991 The Public Liability
Insurance Act and Rules and Amendment, 1992
The Act came into force on Nov. 19, 1986, the birth anniversary of our Late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi,
who was a pioneer of environmental protection issues in our country. The Act extends to whole of India.

FEATURES OF ENVIRNMENT ACT 1986:


Some terms related to environment have been described as follows in the Act:
(i) Environment includes water, air and land and the inter-relationships that exist among and between
them and human beings, all other living organisms and property.
(ii) Environmental pollution means the presence of any solid, liquid or gaseous substance present in such
concentration, as may be, or tend to be, injurious to environment.
(iii) Hazardous substance means any substance or preparation, which by its physio-chemical properties
or handling is liable to cause harm to human beings, other living organisms, property or environment.

The Act has given powers to the Central Government to take measures to protect and improve
environment while the state government coordinates the actions. The most important functions of Central
Govt, under this Act include setting up of:
(a) The standards of quality of air, water or soil for various areas and purpose.
(b) The maximum permissible limits of concentration of various environmental pollutants (including
noise) for different areas.
(c) The procedures and safeguards for the handling of hazardous substances in different areas.
(d) The prohibition and restriction on the location of industries and to carry on process and operations in
different areas.
(e) The procedures and safeguards for the prevention of accidents which may cause environmental
pollution and provide remedial measures for such accidents.
The power of entry and inspection, power to take sample etc. under the act lies with the Central
Government or any officer empowered by it.
For the purpose of protecting and improving the quality of the environment and preventing and abating
pollution, standards have been specified under Schedule- I-VI of Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986
for emission of gaseous pollutants and discharge of effluents/waste water from industries.
These standards vary from industry to industry and also vary with the medium into which the effluent is
discharged or the area of emission, for instance, the maximum permissible limits of B.O.D. (Biochemical
Oxygen Demand) of the waste water is 30 ppm if it is discharged into inland waters, 350 ppm if
discharged into a public and 100 ppm, if discharged on to land or coastal region. Likewise emission
standards vary in residential, sensitive and industrial area.
Under the Environmental (Protection) Rules 1986 the State Pollution Boards have to follow the guidelines
provided under Schedule VI, some of which are as follows:
(a) The have to advise the Industries for treating the waste water and gases with the best available
technology to achieve the prescribed standards.
(b) The industries have to be encouraged for recycling and reusing the wastes.
(c) They have to encourage the industries for recovery of biogas, energy and reusable materials.
(d) While permitting the discharge of effluents and emissions into the environment, the State Boards have
to take into account the assimilative capacity of the water body.
(e) The Central and State Boards have to emphasize on the implementation of clean technologies by the
industries in order to increase fuel efficiency and reduce the generation of environmental pollutants.

Under the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986 the Central Government also made Hazardous Wastes
(Management and handling) Rules 1989. Under these rules it is the responsibilities of the occupier that
such wastes are properly handled and disposed off without any adverse effects.
There are 18 Hazardous Waste categories recognized under this rule and there are guidelines for their
proper handling, storage, treatment, transport and disposal which should be strictly followed by the
owner.
The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 has also made provision for environmental Audit as a means of
checking whether or not a company is complying with the environmental laws and regulations.