How to Protect Our Environment: An Indian Perspective

In the year 1972, Stockolm Conference of United Nations on Environment protections and improvement matter was held. Indian being signatory country to the conference, participated in decision as to protection and improvement of human environment. The Environment Protection Act, 1986 (Act no. 29 of 1986) dated 23rd May, 1986, was came into force on 19th November, 1986 and extends to whole of Indian territory with the purpose to protect and improve environment as to human conditions and also provides for matters connected to protection and improvement of environment. As such this Act was enacted in the 27th year of Republic of India by Parliament of India.

The Act under Chapter II i.e. from Section 3 to 6 provides for General powers of the Central Government. Section 3 of the Act empowers Central Government to take measures to protect Environment from pollution and improve quality of Environment. The Central Government  should also co-ordinate actions of State Government and other officers and authorities under the Act or Rules made thereunder. Further, the same Section provides for list of matters where Central Government should take actions. Section 4 of the Act provides for appointment of Officers by Central Government with provided designation. Said Section also empowers Central Government to entrust to them certain powers and functions under this Act as Central Government deems fit.

Besides, Section 5 of the Act empowers Central Government to give or issue directions in writing to any person, officers or any authority which should bound them. Central Government under Section 6 of the Act empowered to provide for Rules to regulate Environmental Pollution in respect of matters referred to in Section 3 of the Act and all other matters provided under same Section 6.

The next Chapter i.e. Chapter III of the Act dealt with Prevention, Control and Abatement of Environmental Pollution under sections 7 to 17 of the Act. Section 7 wherein, prohibits persons carrying on Industry operations, etc. from emitting or discharge of environmental pollutants in excess of the standards.

Section 8 of the Act dealt with handling of Hazardous Substances by Persons, wherein it is provided that no such handling be made unless in accordance with such procedure and after complying with such safeguards as may be prescribed in this behalf.

Section 10 of the Act empowers Central Government as to entry and inspection any places for the matters or reasons prescribed under the clauses of this section. And Section 11 of the Act empowers central Government as to taking of samples of different pollutants for analysis from factory, premises and other such places. Further, Sections 13 and 14 provides for Reports and other relevant aspect relating to such analysis.

Section 15 of the Act dealt with penal provisions for violations of provision provided under this Act, Rules and Orders and Directions made under this Act, which includes imprisonment and also maximum fine provided therein. Section 16 of the Act describes offences committed by company and persons responsible for such commission. Further, Section 17 of the Act describes offences committed by department of Government and also specks of head of the Department who should be deemed responsible for such commission of offence.

Moreover, fourth Chapter of the Act provides for other miscellaneous provisions under the Act, which consists of Sections 18 to 26 of the Act. The first section i.e. Section 18 of the Act relates to protection of action which are taken in good faith, where no suit or prosecution or even any other legal proceedings should be initiated against the Government or any other officers or employee thereof. Section 19 of the Act makes provisions as to Court’s cognizance of offence under this Act after complying the requirement under this provision. Section 20 of the Act requires furnishing of information by any person or even State Government or other authority to the Central Government as to reports, returns, etc.

Section 22 of the Act says no jurisdictions vests with any Civil Court regarding anything done by Central Government while exercising powers conferred under this Act.

Section 25 of the Act is also important as to making of Rules by Central Government for the matters mentioned under the sub section (2) of this Section and clauses provided under this sub section.

Moreover, Central Government framed Rules by exercising powers of making Rules under this Act, namely ‘Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986. Besides, different other Rules have been provided by Government like, Hazardous Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 1989, Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemicals Rules, 1989, etc.

There are several local Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and group of persons, having spirit and interest to fight for protecting environment and even moved the Courts of Law bringing such numerous problems relating to environmental degradation by way of Public Interest Litigation and Writ Petitions before hon’ble higher judiciary. In case of T. N. Godavarman Thirumulkpad Vs. Union of India, 1995, Court has observed that increasing deforestation is commonly caused due to construction of large projects. In Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra, Dehradun Vs. Uttar Pradesh, the Court has struck balance between conservation of Environment and Ecology on one hand and on the other economic development. In Resident of Sanjay Nagar and Others Vs. State of Rajastan and others,2004 the Court has ordered closing of unauthorized slaughter houses. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has while enlarging scope of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution introduced several rights including. Right to wholesome environment and free and healthy environment.

by Faim Khalilkhan Pathan