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Section 3 – The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986

The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986

 

 

3. POWER OF CENTRAL GOVERNMENT TO TAKE MEASURES TO PROTECT AND IMPROVE ENVIRONMENT.

 

(1) Subject to the provisions of this Act, the Central Government shall have the power to take 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.

 

(2) In particular, and without prejudice to the generality of the provisions of sub-section (1), such measures may include measures with respect to all or any of the following matters, namely :

 

(i) co-ordination of actions by the State Governments, officers and other authorities –

 

(a) under this Act, or the rules made there under; or

 

(b) under any other law for the time being in force which is relatable to the objects of this Act;

 

(ii) planning and execution of a nation-wide programme for the prevention, control and abatement of environmental pollution;

 

(iii) laying down standards for the quality of environment in its various aspects;

 

(iv) laying down standards for emission or discharge of environmental pollutants from various sources whatsoever :

Provided that different standards for emission or discharge may be laid down under this clause from different sources having regard to the quality or composition of the emission or discharge of environmental pollutants from such sources;

 

(v) restriction of areas in which any industries, operations or processes, or class of industries, operations or processes shall not be carried out or shall be carried out subject to certain safeguards;

 

(vi) laying down procedures and safeguards for the prevention of accidents which may cause environmental pollution and remedial measures for such accidents;

 

(vii) laying down procedures and safeguards for the handling of hazardous substances;

 

(viii) examination of such manufacturing processes, materials and substances as are likely to cause environmental pollution;

 

(ix) carrying out and sponsoring investigations and research relating to problems of environmental pollution;

 

(x) inspection of any premises, plant, equipment, machinery, manufacturing or other processes, materials or substances and giving, by order, of such directions to such authorities, officers or persons as it may consider necessary to take steps for the prevention, control and abatement of environmental pollution;

 

(xi) establishment or recognition of environmental laboratories and institutes to carry out the functions entrusted to such environmental laboratories and institutes under this Act;

 

(xii) collection and dissemination of information in respect of matters relating to environmental pollution;

 

(xiii) preparation of manuals, codes or guides relating to the prevention, control and abatement of environmental pollution;

 

(xiv) such other matters as the Central Government deems necessary or expedient for the purpose of securing the effective implementation of the provisions of this Act.

 

(3) The Central Government may, if it considers it necessary or expedient so to do for the purposes of this Act, by order, published in the Official Gazette, constitute an authority or authorities by such name or names as may be specified in the order for the purpose of exercising and performing such of the powers and functions (including the power to issue directions under section 5) of the Central Government under this Act and for taking measures with respect to such of the matters referred to in sub-section (2) as may be mentioned in the order and subject to the supervision and control of the Central Government and the provisions of such order, such authority or authorities may exercise the powers or perform the functions or take the measures so mentioned in the order as if such authority or authorities had been empowered by this Act to exercise those powers or perform those functions or take such measures.

 

COMMENTS

 

In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-sections (1) and (3) of section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (29 of 1986), the Central Government hereby constitutes an authority to be known as “Water Quality Assessment Authority” consisting of the following members with effect from, 20th June, 2001 namely:—

 

     
01 Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests —Chairperson
2 Additional Secretary and Project Director, National River Conservation Directorate, Ministry of Environment and Forests —Member
3 Chairman, Central Water Commission   —Member
4 Additional Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources     —Member
5 Adviser, National River Conservation Directorate, Ministry of Environment and Forests —Member
6   Joint Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperation   —Member
7 Joint Secretary, Ministry of Urban Affairs and Poverty Alleviation     —Member
8 Chairman, Central Ground Water Authority       —Member
9 Chairman, Central Pollution Control Board  —Member
10 Director, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi  —Member
11 Director, National Environmental Engineering Research Institute,Nagpur —Member
12 Commissioner (Water Management), Ministry of Water Resources     

—Member-

    Secretary.

 

 

2. The Authority shall exercise the following powers and functions:—

 

I. to exercise powers under section 5 of the said Act for issuing directions and for taking measures with respect to matters referred to in clauses (ix), (xi), (xii) and (xiii) of sub-section (2) of section 3 of the Act;

 

II. to direct the agencies (government/local bodies/non-governmental) for the following:

 

(a) to standardise method(s) for water quality monitoring and to ensure quality of data generation for utilization thereof;

 

(b) to take measures so as to ensure proper treatment of wastewater with a view to restoring the water quality of the river/water bodies to meet the designated-best-uses;

 

(c) to take up research and development activities in the area of water quality management;

 

(d) to promote recycling/re-use of treated sewage/trade effluent for irrigation in development of agriculture;

 

(e) to draw action plans for quality improvement in water bodies, and monitor and review/assess implementation of the schemes launched/to be launched to that effect;

 

(f) to draw schemes(s) for imposition of restriction in water abstraction and discharge of treated sewage/trade effluent on land, rivers and other water bodies with a view to mitigating crisis of water quality;

 

(g) to maintain minimum discharge for sustenance of aequactic life forms in riverine system;

 

(h) to promote rain water harvesting;

 

(i) to utilize self-assimilation capacities at the critical river stretches to minimise cost of effluent treatment;

 

(j) to provide information to pollution control authorities to facilitate allocation of waste load;

 

(k) to review the status of quality of national water resources (both surface water and groundwater) and identify “Hot Spots” for taking necessary actions for improvement in water quality;

 

(l) to interact with the authorities/committees constituted or to be constituted under the provisions of the said Act for matters relating to management of water resources;

 

(m) to constitute/set-up State level Water Quality Review Committees (WQRC) to coordinate the work to be assigned to such committees; and

(n) to deal with any environmental issue concerning surface and groundwater quality which may be referred to it by the Central Government or the State Government relating to the respective areas, for maintenance and/or restoration of quality to sustain designated-best-uses.

 

3. The Authority shall exercise the powers under section 19 of the said Act.

 

4. The Authority may appoint domain experts for facilitating the work assigned to it.

 

5. The Ministry of Water Resources shall create a cell to assist the Authority to carry out the assigned functions.

 

6. The Authority shall furnish report about its activity at least once in three months to the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

 

7. The tenure of the Authority shall be upto 31st March, 2007.

 

[Vide S.O. 583(E), dated 29th May, 2001 and amended by S.O. 635(E), dated 26th May, 2004.]

 

Approach of court

 

The court should approach that no activities which would ultimately lead to unscientific and unsustainable development and ecological destruction at all be allowed and the courts must scrupulously try to protect the ecology and environment; Goa Foundation, Goa v. Diksha Holdings Pvt. Ltd., AIR 2001 SC 184.

 

CNG-buses

 

To protect the health of the present and future generation and protect and improve the environment, the non-CNG-buses were phased out and ordered for the use of CNG-buses; M.C. Mehta v. Union of India, AIR 2002 SC 1696.

 

Environmental awareness

 

A public interest petition was filed seeking directions from the apex court to the Government for exhibition of slides in cinema halls containing information and messages on environment free of cost, spread of relative valuable information relating to environment in national and regional languages through television and Radio in regular and short-term programmes and for making environment as compulsory subject in schools and colleges. The Supreme Court accepted the prayers in principle and issued directions to that effect holding that keeping the citizens informed is an obligation of the Government; M.C. Mehta v. Union of India, AIR 1992 SC 382.

 

Power of Central Government

 

The Central Government is empowered to take 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; M.C. Mehta v. Union of India, AIR 1988 SC 1037.

 

Responsibility to repair damage

 

The responsibility for repairing the damage is of the offending industry. The task of determining the amount required for carrying out the remedial measures, its recovery/realisation and the task of undertaking the remedial measures is placed upon the Central Government; Indian Council for Enviro-Legal Action, etc. v. Union of India, AIR 1996 SC 1446.

Scope

 

The main purpose of the Act is to create an authority or authorities with adequate powers to control pollution and protect the environment; Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum v. Union of India, AIR 1996 SC 2715.

 

Sustainable development

 

(i) To ensure sustainable development is one of the goals of Environmental Protection Act, 1986, and this is quiet necessary to guarantee ’right to life’ under Article 21. If the Act is not armed with the powers to ensure sustainable development, it will become a barren shell. In other words, sustainable development is one of the means to achieve the object and purpose of the Act as well as the protection of ’life’ under Article 21; N.D. Jayal v. Union of India, AIR 2004 SC 867.

 

(ii) It is necessary that green areas and the parks in all the towns and cities of Rajasthan are maintained to protect environment and ecology, but it is seen they are allowed to be encroached upon due to commercial and other pressures. They are converted from green areas to commercial areas and residential areas. Concrete jungles are swallowing green areas. That trend needs to be halted to protect and preserve ecology; Justice R.S. Verma v. State of Rajasthan, AIR 2004 Raj 175.

 

(iii) The harmonisation of the two namely, the issue of ecology and developmental project cannot but be termed to be the order of the day and the need of the hour; Goa Foundation, Goa v. Diksha Holdings Pvt. Ltd., AIR 2001 SC 184.

 

(iv) There is need for creating general awareness towards the hazardous effects of noise pollution. Similar awareness need to be created in Police and Civil administration as well. Not only the use of loudspeakers and playing of hi-fi amplifier systems has to be regulated, even the playing of high sound instruments which create noise beyond tolerable limit need to be regulated; Noise Pollution (in re:), AIR 2005 SC 3136..

 

 

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The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986

 

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