The Indian Council of Medical Research establishes water quality standards, particularly those for drinking water. These are quite similar to WHO standards. The release of industrial effluents is governed by Indian Standard Codes, and water quality criteria for coastal or marine outfalls have just been established. In addition to basic requirements, specialised criteria for effluent discharges from industries such as iron and steel, aluminium, pulp and paper, oil refineries, petrochemicals, and thermal power plants have been created. Water contamination legislation is outlined here.
Water (Pollution Prevention and Control) Act of 1974 :
This Act was India’s first attempt to address environmental concerns completely. The Act forbids the discharge of contaminants into bodies of water that exceed a certain limit, and also imposes fines for noncompliance. The Act was revised in 1988 to closely adhere to the provisions of the EPA Act of 1986. The CPCB (Central Pollution Management Board) was established to provide guidelines for the prevention and control of water pollution. The SPCBs (State Pollution Control Boards) operate at the state level, reporting to the CPCB and the state government.
The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977:
This Act establishes a levy and collection of a cess on water used by industries and municipal governments. It intends to supplement the resources of the central and state bodies for water pollution prevention and control. Following this Act, in 1978, The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Rules were developed to define requirements and indications for the kind and position of metres that every water customer is required to install.
The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981:
The 1981 Act set ambient air quality standards to address the difficulties connected with air pollution. The Act establishes methods for controlling and mitigating air pollution. The Act aims to combat air pollution by limiting the use of harmful fuels and chemicals, as well as regulating air pollution-causing equipment. According to the Act, the establishment or operation of any industrial facility in a pollution control region requires the approval of state bodies. The boards will also be responsible for testing the air in air pollution control zones, inspecting pollution control equipment, and manufacturing processes.
The CPCB issued National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for main pollutants in April 1994. These are the air quality values judged essential with an appropriate margin of safety to preserve public health, vegetation, and property.
The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Amendment Act of 1987 was passed to provide the national and state pollution control bodies and the authority to deal with major situations. The boards were given the authority to take prompt action to deal with such crises and recoup the costs spent from the offenders. The ability to revoke approval for non-compliance with the set criteria is further stressed in the Air Act Amendment.
The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Rules, 1982:
It outlines the processes for holding board meetings, the authority of the presiding officers, decision-making, the quorum, the method in which the meeting records were to be set, and so on. They also specified how and why specialists should be consulted, as well as the amount that should be given to them.
Forests and Wildlife:
The Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972, as amended in 1991:
The WPA (Wildlife Protection Act) of 1972 protects specified species of flora and wildlife and creates a network of ecologically significant protected areas. The WPA authorises the federal and state governments to declare any place a wildlife sanctuary, national park or closed area. There is a total restriction on carrying out any industrial activity inside these protected zones. It establishes agencies to administer and enforce the Act; regulates wild animal hunting; protects designated plants, sanctuaries, national parks, and closed areas; restricts trade or commerce in wild animals or animal items; and other topics. The Act forbids hunting of animals unless with consent of authorised authority when an animal has become hazardous to human life or property or handicapped or ill as to be beyond recovery. The Amendment Act of 1991 strengthened the near-total restriction on hunting.
The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980:
This Act was created to protect and conserve forests. The Act restricts the authority of the state in respect of de-reservation of forests and use of forestland for non-forest purposes (the phrase ‘non-forest purpose’ includes clearing out any forestland for cultivation of cash crops, plantation crops, horticulture or any purpose other than re-afforestation).
Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (EPA):
This Act serves as a framework for the coordination of national and state bodies created under the Water (Prevention and Control) Act of 1974 and the Air (Prevention and Control) Act of 1981. The central government is empowered under this Act to take the necessary steps to safeguard and improve the quality of the environment, such as setting criteria for emissions and discharges, regulating the placement of companies, managing hazardous wastes, and protecting human health and welfare.
The central government from time to time issues notifications under the EPA for the preservation of environmentally sensitive regions or recommendations for topics under the EPA.
The Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986:
These regulations provide the processes for establishing emission or discharge criteria for environmental contaminants. The Rules provide the boundaries within which the Central Government can issue prohibition and limitation orders on the site and operation of industries in certain locations. The Rules outline the process for collecting samples, issuing notice, submitting samples for examination, and providing laboratory reports. The Rules also outline the functions of the laboratories, as well as the credentials of the analysts involved.
There are various pieces of legislation that deal with hazardous waste, either directly or indirectly. The Factories Act of 1948, the Public Liability Insurance Act of 1991, the National Environment Tribunal Act of 1995, and several notices under the Environmental Protection Act of 1986 are all pertinent pieces of law. Each of these is described in detail below.
Under the EPA 1986, the MoEF has issued several notifications to tackle the problem of hazardous waste management. These include:
- Hazardous Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 1989, which brought out a guide for manufacture, storage and import of hazardous chemicals and for management of hazardous wastes.
- Biomedical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998, were formulated along parallel lines, for proper disposal, segregation, transport etc. of infectious wastes.
- Municipal Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000, whose aim was to enable municipalities to dispose municipal solid waste in a scientific manner.
This Act is an umbrella legislation designed to provide a framework for the co-ordination of central and state authorities established under the Water (Prevention and Control) Act, 1974 and Air (Prevention and Control) Act, 1981. Under this Act, the central government is empowered to take measures necessary to protect and improve the quality of the environment by setting standards for emissions and discharges; regulating the location of industries; management of hazardous wastes, and protection of public health and welfare.
From time to time the central government issues notifications under the EPA for the protection of ecologically-sensitive areas or issues guidelines for matters under the EPA.
The Atomic Energy Act of 1982, which was introduced to deal with radioactive waste, supplements the preceding Acts. The Motor Vehicles Act was adopted in 1988 to govern vehicle traffic as well as to ensure adequate packaging, labelling, and transportation of hazardous wastes. Various elements of automobile pollution have also been reported to the EPA under the 1986 Act. Mass emission regulations were announced in 1990, and they were strengthened in 1996. These requirements were amended once again in 2000, and for the first time, specific duties for car owners, manufacturers, and enforcement authorities were specified. Furthermore, on April 29, 1999, the Supreme Court informed the city of Delhi of rather tough Euro I and II emission regulations. The announcement required automobile makers to comply with Euro I and Euro II standards for new non-commercial vehicles sold in Delhi by May 1999 and April 2000, respectively.
The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 (NGT Act) was enacted to provide for the establishment of a National Green Tribunal (NGT) for the effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection, conservation of forests and other natural resources, including enforcement of any legal right relating to the environment and providing relief and compensation for damages to persons and property, as well as matters connected with or incidental thereto.
The Act obtained the President of India’s assent on June 2, 2010, and was implemented by the Central Government by Notification No. S.O. 2569(E) on October 18, 2010, having effect from that date. The Act provides for the formation of an NGT to deal with all environmental legislation pertaining to air and water pollution, the Environment Protection Act, the Forest Conservation Act, and the Biodiversity Act, as listed in Schedule I of the Act.
The Public Liability Insurance Act of 1991:
It mandated the purchase of public liability insurance. The Public Liability Insurance Act of 1991 was designed to offer compensation to victims of accidents caused by the handling of any hazardous chemical. The Act applies to all owners who are involved in the manufacture or handling of hazardous substances.)