The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 was enacted on March 28, 1981 which aims to provide for avoidance, abatement and management of air pollution and for the constitution of a Board for the purpose of performing the above mentioned principles. The Board is established with the intent to grant and allocate powers and responsibilities and other matters related with pollution. The present enactment was formulated for complying with the United Nations Conference on Human Environment concluded at Stockholm in 1972. In this Conference it was decided to take adequate means to conserve the natural resources including the air and prevent air pollution. To maintain the quality of air and prevent air pollution, it is necessary to implement the provisions of the Conference into legislation.
According to the provisions of the Act, ‘air pollutant’ consists of any gaseous, solid or liquid substance added with noise which can be seen in the atmosphere that may cause injury or likely to be injurious to the living creatures and human beings or plants or ecology or property. The presence of air pollutant in the atmosphere is called ‘air pollution’. The Central Board for the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution established as per the provisions of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 shall Act as the Central Board under the present Act. In some States the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 has been implemented. In such States, the State Board shall be the same as constituted under the Water Act, 1974. The States in which the Water Act, 1974 has not been implemented, the State Board shall be constituted according to the provisions of the present Act. The Central Board shall have the authority to perform such functions and responsibilities as provided under the Air Act. The State Boards are also entrusted with certain powers and duties under the Act which they are obliged to comply as per the provisions of the present legislation.
The State Board established under the Act shall embrace of the under mentioned members:
- The Chairman, nominated by the Government of concerned State shall have unique expertise and practical training with regard to subjects in the protection of environment.
- Not more than five officials chosen by the State Government to stand for such Government.
- Not exceeding five persons chosen by the State Government from members under the local authorities.
- Not more than three non-officials selected by the Stet Government from the areas of agriculture, industry, labour, fishery, trade and any other field.
- Two members chosen by the State Government, from corporations or companies under the control of State Government.
- Member-secretary appointed by State Government, with knowledge and experience in engineering, technical or management in control of pollution.
The Act provides for the term of service and grounds for disqualification of members of the Board. The Board is empowered to formulate committees with its members to perform the functions effectively. The key functions of the Central Board shall be to advice the Union relating to matters for improving the air quality and avoidance and regulation of air pollution, plan and execute the program for avoiding pollution, unify the functions of State and to resolve disputes, provide training etc. The Central Board shall constitute laboratory to facilitate the Board to carry out the responsibilities effectually, delegate the duties to the appointed committees and many more. The Central Board is under the responsibility to carry out the direction given by the Central Government. Whereas, the State Board shall comply with the directions of State Government as well as the Central Board. The air pollution control areas are declared by the State Government after consultation with the State Board. The State Government shall have the authority to guarantee standards for emission from automobiles.
The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 was amended by the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Amendment Act, 1987. Various provisions laid down in the act enable both the Central and the State to co ordinate their work to ascertain any violations of air quality standards established by the law and thereby ensure the quality of life guaranteed under Article 21 of Constitution of India. Moreover National Air Quality Programme by the Ministry of forest and environment established various monitoring agencies and stations all across the country to ensure the said purpose .