The Environment is the greatest gift of God to man. Its abiotic components like air, water, light, etc., and its biotic living components like plants, animals, human beings, etc. are responsible for the survival and continuance of life on this planet. Here, we are giving the list of legislations on environment and ecology in India that addressing the effects of human activity on the natural environment for general awareness.
List of legislations on environment and ecology in India
The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 authorizes the central government to protect and improve environmental quality, control and reduce pollution from all sources, and prohibit or restrict the setting and /or operation of any industrial facility on environmental grounds. The Environment (Protection) Act was enacted in 1986 with the objective of providing for the protection and improvement of the environment. It empowers the Central Government to establish authorities charged with the mandate of preventing environmental pollution in all its forms and to tackle specific environmental problems that are peculiar to different parts of the country. The Act was last amended in 1991.
The Environment (Protection) Rules lay down procedures for setting standards of emission or discharge of environmental pollutants.
The objective of Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1989 is to control the generation, collection, treatment, import, storage, and handling of hazardous waste.
The Manufacture, Storage, and Import of Hazardous Rules define the terms used in this context, and sets up an authority to inspect, once a year, the industrial activity connected with hazardous chemicals and isolated storage facilities.
The Manufacture, Use, Import, Export, and Storage of hazardous Micro-organisms/ Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells Rules,1989 were introduced with a view to protect the environment, nature, and health, in connection with the application of gene technology and micro-organisms.
The Biological Diversity Act 2002 and Biological Diversity Rules provide for the conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of its components, and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the use of biological resources and knowledge associated with it.
Its key provisions aimed at achieving the above are:
Prohibition on transfer of Indian genetic material outside the country, without specific approval of the Indian Government;
Prohibition on anyone claiming an Intellectual Property Right (IPR), such as a patent, over biodiversity or related knowledge, without permission of the Indian Government;
Regulation of collection and use of biodiversity by Indian nationals, while exempting local communities from such restrictions;
Measures for sharing of benefits from the use of biodiversity, including transfer of technology, monetary returns, joint Research & Development, joint IPR ownership, etc.;
Measures to conserve and sustain-ably use biological resources, including habitat and species protection, Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) of projects, integration of biodiversity into the plans, programmes, and policies of various departments/sectors;
Provisions for local communities to have a say in the use of their resources and knowledge, and to charge fees for this; Protection of indigenous or traditional knowledge, through appropriate laws or other measures such as registration of such knowledge;
Regulation of the use of genetically modified organisms; Setting up of National, State, and Local Biodiversity Funds, to be used to support conservation and benefit-sharing;
Setting up of Biodiversity Management Committees (BMC) at local village level, State Biodiversity Boards (SBB) at state level, and a National Biodiversity Authority (NBA).
The Act has been created to award compensation for damages to persons, property, and the environment arising from any activity involving hazardous substances. The three major objectives of the Green Tribunal are
The effective and speedy disposal of the cases relating to environment protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources. All the previous pending cases will also be heard by the Tribunal.
It aims at enforcing all the legal rights relating to the environment
It also accounts for providing compensation and relief to effected people for damage of property.
The salient features of amendment are as follows:
Amendment provides an equal opportunity to any citizen of India to approach the National Green Tribunal.
It ensures that the tribunal takes into consideration principles of Sustainable Development, Precautionary principles, Polluter Pays Principles and Inter generational Equity while hearing any appeal and giving judgements.
Under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including
enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. It is a specialized body equipped with the necessary expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multidisciplinary issues. The Tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice.
The Tribunal's dedicated jurisdiction in environmental matters shall provide speedy environmental justice and help reduce the burden of litigation in the higher courts. The Tribunal is mandated to make and endeavour for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same.
Initially, the NGT is proposed to be set up at five places of sittings and will follow circuit procedure for making itself more accessible. New Delhi is the Principal Place of Sitting of the Tribunal and Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai shall be the other 4 place of sitting of the Tribunal.
These rules lay down such terms and conditions as are necessary to reduce noise pollution, permit use of loud speakers or public address systems during night hours (between 10:00 p.m. to 12:00 midnight) on or during any cultural or religious festive occasion.
Following are the salient features of the amendment:
In the heading ‘PUBLIC ADDRESS SYSTEM’ the words ‘AND SOUND PRODUCING SYSTEMS’ shall
A loudspeaker or any sound producing system or a sound amplifier shall not be used at night time except in closed premises for communication within like auditorium, conference rooms, community halls, banquet halls or during public emergency.
The noise level at the boundary of the public place where loudspeaker or public address system is being used the sound should not exceed 10dB above the ambient noise standards of that area or 75dB whichever is less.
No horn shall be used in silence zones or residential areas at night except in emergency situations.
Sound emitting construction equipments shall not be operated during night.
The Forest Conservation Act 1980 was enacted to help conserve the country's forests. It strictly restricts and regulates the de-reservation of forests or use of forest land for non-forest purposes without the prior approval of Central Government.
The Indian Forest Act, 1927 consolidates the law relating to forests, the transit of forest-produce and the duty on timber and other forest-produce.
The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, recognizes the rights of forest-dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers over the forest areas inhabited by them and provides a framework for according the same.
The Forest Conservation Act, 1980 is a Central Act of Parliament with a view to provide for the conservation of forest and for matters connected therewith or ancillary or incidental thereto. The act extends to the whole of India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Section 2 of the act makes a provision of a prior approval of the Central Government necessary before a State Government or any other authority issues direction for dereservation of reserved forests (which have been reserved under the Indian Forest Act 1927), use of forest land for non – forest purpose, assigning forest land by way of lease or otherwise to any private person or to any authority, corporation, agency or any other organization not owned, managed or controlled by the government and clear felling of naturally grown trees. The term “forest land” mentioned in Section 2 of the Act refers to reserved forest, protected forest or any area recorded as forest in the government records. Lands which are notified under section4 of the Indian
Forest Act would also come within the purview of the Forest Conservation Act 1980. The Supreme Court has also held that “forest” as understood in the dictionary sense would also be included under “forest land”. The term “forest” shall not be applicable to the plantation raised on private land except notified private forest. Tree falling in such plantation would however be governed by state acts and rules. The
term “tree” will have the same meaning as defined in section 2 of the Indian Forest Act 1927.
The Government of India enacted Wild Life (Protection) Act 1972 with the objective of effectively protecting the wild life of this country and to control poaching, smuggling and illegal trade in wildlife and its derivatives.
The Act was amended in January 2003 and punishment and penalty for offences under the Act have been made more stringent. The Ministry has proposed further amendments in the law by introducing more rigid measures to strengthen the Act. The objective is to provide protection to the listed endangered flora and fauna and ecologically important protected areas.
The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act was enacted in 1974 and amended in 1988 is to provide for the prevention and control of water pollution, and for the maintaining or restoring of wholesomeness of water in the country.
The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act was enacted in 1977, and amended in 2003 is to provide for the levy and collection of a cess on water consumed by persons operating and carrying on certain types of industrial activities.
This cess is collected with a view to augment the resources of the Central Board and the State Boards for the prevention and control of water pollution constituted under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act was enacted in 1981 and amended in 1987 to provide for the prevention, control and abatement of air pollution in India.
The Environment (Protection) Act was enacted in 1986 and amended in 1991 with the objective of providing for the protection and improvement of the environment.
It empowers the Central Government to establish authorities charged with the mandate of preventing environmental pollution in all its forms and to tackle specific environmental problems that are peculiar to different parts of the country.
It was the first to express concern for the working environment of the workers. The amendment of 1987 has sharpened its environmental focus and expanded its application to hazardous processes.
It provides for the protection of birds and animals and for all matters that are connected to it whether it be their habitat or the waterhole or the forests that sustain them.
Wildlife Protection Act 1972 was passed on August 21, 1972, but was later implemented on September 9, 1972.
This act prohibits the capturing, killing, poisoning or trapping of wild animals It extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir
According to Conservation India's portal, the Government of India has enacted the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 with the various objectives.
Prohibition of hunting
Protection and management of wildlife habitats
Establishment of protected areas
Regulation and control of trade in parts and products derived from wildlife.
What does this act include?
Wildlife Protection Act 1972 (WLPA) prohibits the injuring, destroying and removing any part of a wild animals body
In the case of wild birds and reptiles, the act also forbids disturbing or damaging their eggs. WLPA is also against taxidermy, which is the preservation of a dead wild animal as a trophy, or in the form of rugs, preserved skins, antlers, horns, eggs, teeth, and nails.
Wildlife Protection Amendment Act 2002
This amendment for this act was made in 2002 but came into force in January 2003 and under it, the punishment for defaulters is harsher.
If someone is caught in the process of trade of animal trophies and other articles derived from wild animals they will be subjected to three years of imprisonment and/or a fine of Rs. 25,000/-
Wildlife Protection Amendment Act 2006
The act was amended in the year 2006 and its purpose is to strengthen the conservation of tigers and other endangered species by combating crimes against them through the special Crime Control Bureau.
It establishes an institutional structure for preventing and abating water pollution. It establishes standards for water quality and effluent. Polluting industries must seek permission to discharge waste into effluent bodies.
The CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board) was constituted under this act.