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Environmental Laws: Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974

Environmental Laws enactment of environment legislation can be taken as measure of government’s awareness and concern for the environment. A number of laws dealing with environmental issues have been enacted at the local, national and international levels. Environmental laws range in scale from local community ordinance prohibiting litter on the streets to international treaties regulating trade in endangered species or the release of stratospheric ozone destroying substances. The phrase “environment” is treated as including the physical surroundings that are common to all of us, including air, space, water, land, plants and life.

Environmental regulations are rules or orders having force of law and are issued by a competent authority. These regulations are made under specific provisions of the relevant principle legislation. Regulations vest wide powers, mostly on ministers of relevant ministries, to permit, limit, control or prohibit the carrying out of any activities or using particular materials, instruments or methods over which they have regulatory competence.

The following are the special laws exclusively dealing with environmental pollution:

  1. Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.
  2. The Water Prevention and Control of Pollution Act, 1974.
  3. The Environment Protection Act, 1986.
  4. Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
  5. Forest Conservation Act, 1980.

Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974

In response to critical problems on quality and quantity of waters, India enacted ‘The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and the corresponding ‘Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Rules, 1975 for the effective implementation, the various provisions of this Act have been amended time to time Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977, Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Amendment Act, 1988. The main concern of the Act is to maintain or restore the wholesomeness of water.

Salient Features of Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1974

  1. It provides for maintenance and restoration of quality of all types of surface and ground water.
  2. It provides for the establishment of Central and State Boards for Pollution Controls.
  3. It confers them with powers and functions to control pollution. The Central and State Pollution Control Boards are widely represented and are given comprehensive powers to advise, coordinate and provide technical assistance for prevention and control of pollution of water.
  4. The Act has provisions for funds, budgets, accounts and audit of the Central and State Pollution Control Boards.
  5. The Act makes provisions for various penalties for defaulters and procedure for the same.