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Environmental and Ecological Laws

ENVIRONMENTAL AND ECOLOGICAL ACTS IN INDIA

 

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

  • 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

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 National Environmental Tribunal Act,1995, Amendment 2010

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.

 

National Green Tribunal Act, 2010

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.

 

The Noise Pollution (Regulation and control) (Amendment) Rules, 2010

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

be inserted.

  • 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.

 

Forest Conservation,1980

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.

 

Wildlife,1972

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.

 

Water Pollution,1974

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.

 

Air Pollution,1981

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.

 

Environment Protection,1986

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.

 

Factories Act, 1948 and amended in 1987

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.

 

Wildlife Protection Act, 1972-73 and Amendment in 1991

 

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.

 

THE OBJECTIVES ARE AS FOLLOWS:

  • 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.

What is the punishment under the Wildlife Protection Amendment Act 2002?

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.

Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974

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.