Environment Protection Act, 1986

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Environment Protection Act, 1986 Act of the Parliament of India. In the wake of the Bhopal gas Tragedy or Bhopal Disaster, the [Government of India] enacted the Environment Protection Act of 1986 under Article 253 of the Constitution. Passed in March 1986, it came into force on 19 November 1986. It has 26 sections and 4 chapters. The purpose of the Act is to implement the decisions of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment. They relate to the protection and improvement of the human environment and the prevention of hazards to human beings, other living creatures, plants and property. The Act is an “umbrella” legislation designed to provide a framework for central government coordination of the activities of various central and state authorities established under previous laws, such as the Water Act and the Air Act.[1]

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.[2]

History- This act was enacted by the Parliament of India in 1986. As the introduction says, "An Act to provide for the protection and improvement of environment and for matters connected therewith: Where as the decisions were taken at the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held at Stockholm in June, 1972, in which India participated, to take appropriate steps for the protection and improvement of human environment. Where as it is considered necessary further to implement the decisions aforesaid in so far as they relate to the protection and improvement of environment and the prevention of hazards to human beings, other living creatures, plants and property". This was due to Bhopal Gas Tragedy which was considered as the worst industrial tragedy in India.[3]

Restricted areas- The areas on which restriction has been imposed by this act include Doon Valley in Uttarakhand, Aravali Regions in Alwar, Rajasthan, Coastal zones and ecologically sensitive zones, etc.[4]

Sections for environment protection act- This act has four Chapters and 26 Sections. Narwate Chapter one consists of Preliminary information such as Short Title, Extend, Date of Commencement and Definitions. The definitions are given in the second section of the Act. Chapter two describes general powers of Central Government. Chapter 3 gives the Central Government the power to take action to protect the environment. Chapter 4 allows government to appoint officers to achieve these objectives. It also gives the government the power to give direction to closure, prohibition or regulation of industry, pollution. The act has provisions for penalties for contravention of the provisions of the act and rules, orders and directions. It also gives detail if the offence is done by a company or government department. It says for such offence the in-charge and head of department respectively would be liable for punishment.[5]

Chapter I Preliminary information- 1.Short title, extent and commencement 2.Definitions Chapter II General Powers of the central government- 3.Power of Central Government to take measures to protect and improve environment. 4.Appointment of officers and their powers and functions. 5.Power to give directions. 6.Rules to regulate environmental pollution. Chapter III Prevention, Control, and Abatement of environmental pollution- 7.Persons carrying on industry, operation, etc., not to allow emission or discharge of environmental pollutants in excess of the standards. 8.Persons handling hazardous substances to comply with procedural safeguards. 9.Furnishing of information to authorities and agencies in certain cases. 10.Powers of entry and inspection. 11.Power to take sample and procedure to be followed in connection therewith. 12.Environmental laboratories 13.Government Analysts. 14.Reports of Government Analysts. 15.Penalty for contravention of the provisions of the Act and the rules, orders and directions. 16.Offences by companies. 17.Offences by Government Departments. Chapter IV Miscellaneous- 18.Protection of action taken in good faith. 19.Cognizance of offences. 20.Information, reports or returns. 21.Members, officers and employees of the authority constituted under section 3 to be public servants. 22.Bar of jurisdiction. 23.Power to delegate. 24.Effect of other laws. 25.Power to make rules. 26.Rules made under this Act to be laid before Parliament.