ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION ACT, 1986

 

The Act empowers the Central Government to make the following rules for the first time:

  • Standard of quality of air, water, and soil for various areas and for various purposes.
  • Maximum permissible limits of concentration for various environmental pollutants (including noise) for different areas.
  •  Procedures and safeguards for the handling of hazardous substances.
  • Prohibition and restrictions on the location of industries and carrying out operations.
  • Procedures and safeguards for the prevention of accidents which may cause environmental pollution and
  • Providing for remedial measures in case of accidents.

The Environment Protection Act,1986 was enacted as per the spirit of the Stockholm Conference (1972), to take appropriate steps for the protection and improvement of the environment and to prevent hazards to human beings, living creatures, and property.

 Salient Features of the Act:

  • EPA provides a single focus in the country for the protection of the environment and to plug the loopholes in the earlier laws.
  • The Act ensures the enforcement of several Acts/Regulations concerning pollution control.
  • EPA is umbrella legislation that provides a framework for the coordination of Central and State Governments and authorities established under the Water and Air Acts.

 This Act confers powers to the Central Government to:

  • Take measures that are necessary for the purpose of protecting and improving the quality of the environment and preventing, controlling and abating environmental pollution.
  • Issue directions for:
  • the closure, prohibition or regulation of any industry, operation and process and,
  • the stoppage or regulation of the supply of water, power or any other service even without obtaining court orders.
  • Empower any person to enter, inspect, take samples and test.
  • Establish environmental laboratories and appoint Government analysts.
  • Prohibit industrial emission or discharge of environmental pollutants over and above the limits stipulated by the relevant standards.
  • Any person can make a complaint of violation of provisions of the Act to the Central Government or authority or officer authorised for this purpose.
  • The Act prescribes stringent penalties to the defaulters for violation of the provisions of the Act.
  • The jurisdiction of Civil Court is barred under the Act. Every State has to set up Green Bench Courts to attend to Public Interest Litigation (PIL) cases concerning environmental hazards affecting the quality of life of citizens.

 

EPA, Rules:

1. Environmental Impact Assessment:

⮚         Under the Environment (Protection) Rules, EIA of 29 specified projects falling under sectors such as Industries, Mining, Irrigation, Power, Transport, Tourism etc., require clearance from Central Government before establishment.

⮚         The project proponent has to provide EIA report, risk analysis report, NOC from State Pollution Control Board, project report, technical information for environmental appraisal of the project, availability of water and electricity and comprehensive rehabilitation plan etc.

2. Biomedical and Hazardous Wastes:

Under the EPA, 1986, the Central Government has also made Biomedical and Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1989.

3. Environmental Audit:

Every person carrying on any industry or operation requiring consent under the Water Act, 1974 or Air Act, 1981 or hazardous waste rules, 1989 issued under EPA, 1986 shall submit an environmental audit report for each financial year ending 31st March in a prescribed form to the State Pollution Control Board.

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