Environmental protection is a practice of protecting the natural environment at individual, organizational or governmental levels, for the benefit of the natural environment and humans. Due to the pressures of population and technology, the biophysical environment is being degraded, either partially or permanently. This has been recognized, and governments have begun placing restraints on activities that cause environmental degradation. Since the 1960’s, movements for the protection of environment have created awareness about the various environmental issues. There is no agreement on the extent of environmental impact on human activity, and protection measures are occasionally criticized.
Academic institutions now offer courses such as environmental laws, environmental studies, environmental management and environmental engineering, that teach the history and methods of environment protection. Waste production, air pollution, and loss of biodiversity (resulting from the introduction of invasive species and species extinction) are some of the issues related to environmental protection. Environmental protection is influenced by three interwoven factors: environmental legislation, ethics and education. Each of this factor plays its part in influencing national-level environmental decisions and personal-level environmental values and behaviors. For environmental protection to become a reality, it is important for societies to develop each of these areas.
The need for protection of environment can easily be understood from the following facts:
The human beings as well as animals need clean food and water, and in order to have clean food and water, it is necessary to protect the ecosystem that make survival possible. If we do not stop pollution, it is sure that the world will come to an end.
‘Environmental Law’ is an instrument to protect and improve the environment and to control or prevent any act or omission polluting or likely to pollute the environment. An environmental legal system is essentially a set of laws and administrative rules which regulate the relationships and conflicts between all the people concerned with the environment, as well as defining the relationships between people and the environment itself. The Honourable Supreme Court in K. M. Chinnappa v. Union of India defined “Environmental Law” as an instrument to protect and improve the environment and control or prevent any act or omission polluting or likely to pollute the environment.
In the Constitution of India, it is clearly stated that it is the duty of the State to “protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country”. It imposes a duty on every citizen “to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife”. Reference to the environment has also been made in the Directive Principles of State Policy (Part IV) as well as the Fundamental Rights (Part III). The Department of Environment was established in India in 1980 to ensure a healthy environment for the country. This later became the Ministry of Environment and Forests in 1985.
The Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) is the nodal agency in the administrative structure of the Central Government for planning, promotion, co-ordination and overseeing the implementation of India’s environmental and forestry policies and programmes. The primary concerns of the Ministry are implementation of policies and programmes relating to conservation of the country’s natural resources including its lakes, rivers, biodiversity, forests and wildlife, ensuring the welfare of animals, and the prevention and abatement of pollution. The broad objectives of the Ministry are:
The ‘Right to Life’ contained in Article-21 of the Constitution of India includes the right to clean and human environment. It means you have the right to live in a clean and healthy environment.
Article-38 of our Constitution requires State to ensure a social order for the welfare of people, which can be obtained by an unpolluted and clean environment only.
Article-48A of the Constitution requires the State to adopt the Protectionist policy as well as Improvinistic Policy. Protectionist policy imposes ban on those things which lead to environmental degradation, e.g. ban on use of leaded petrol, ban on use of plastic bags etc. Improvinistic policy refers to alternatives that can be used for improvement of environment, e.g. use of CNG or low sulphur fuel, tree plantation in industrial areas etc.
Article-48A of the Constitution declares “The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and safeguard forests and wildlife of the country.” Article-51A(g) of the Indian Constitution says: “It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures.”
The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act was enacted in 1974 to provide for the prevention and control of water pollution, and for maintaining or restoring of wholesomeness of water in the country. This is the first law passed in India whose objective was to ensure that the domestic and industrial pollutants are not discharged into rivers, and lakes without adequate treatment. The reason is that such a discharge renders the water unsuitable as a source of drinking water as well as for the purposes of irrigation and support marine life. In order to achieve its objectives, the Pollution Control Boards at Central and State levels were created to establish and enforce standards for factories discharging pollutants into water bodies.
The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 was enacted to provide for the prevention, control and abatement of air pollution in India. It is a specialised piece of legislation which was enacted to take appropriate steps for the preservation of natural resources of the earth, which among other things include the preservation of the quality of air and control of air pollution. The prime objectives of the Act are the following:
It was the Bhopal Gas Tragedy which necessitated the Government of India to enact a comprehensive environmental legislation, including rules relating to storing, handling and use of hazardous waste. On the basis of these rules, the Indian Parliament enacted the Environment Protection Act, 1986. This is an umbrella legislation that consolidated the provisions of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1974 and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1981. Within this framework of the legislations, the government established Pollution Control Boards (PCBs) in order to prevent, control, and abate environmental pollution. The objective of the Environment Protection Act is to protect and improve the environment in the country.
The Bhopal disaster, also referred to as the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, was a gas leak incident in India, considered one of the world’s worst industrial disasters. It occurred on the night between 2nd and 3rd December, 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. Over 500,000 people were exposed to methyl isocyanate gas and other chemicals. The toxic substance made its way in and around the shanty-towns located near the plant. Estimates vary on the death toll. The official immediate death toll was 2,259. The government of Madhya Pradesh confirmed a total of 3,787 deaths related to the gas release. According to other estimates, around 8,000 died within two weeks and another 8,000 or more have since died from gas-related diseases. A government affidavit in 2006 stated the leak caused 558,125 injuries including 38,478 partial disabling injuries and approximately 3,900 severe and permanent disabling injuries.
There was no direct provision for ‘noise pollution’ under the Environment Protection Act, 1986 or any other legislation. The increasing ambient noise levels in public places from various sources like industrial activity, generator sets, loud speakers, vehicular horns etc. have harmful effects on human health. It was the need of the hour to come with a law which would regulate and control noise producing sounds with the objective of maintaining the ambient air quality standards in respect of noise. Therefore, the Central Government framed ‘The Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000’. These rules have been laid down by the government to reduce environmental noise pollution. Certain standards, such as the ambient air quality standards, have been set by the government. The permissible levels of noise are different for different areas, such as industrial, commercial, residential areas and silence zones (area within the vicinity of hospitals, educational institutions or courts).
This Act aims to provide immediate relief to the persons affected by accident occurring while handling any hazardous substance. It provides that every owner shall take out, before he starts handling any hazardous substance, one or more insurance policies providing for contracts of insurance. The objective of taking insurance is that the compensation resulting from the possible future accident is guaranteed. The collector of the area has been empowered to verify the occurrence of any accident at any place within his jurisdiction and also cause publicity to be given for inviting applications from the victims for any compensation. Apart from the insurance contract, the funding for the purpose of compensation is also generated by the Central Government by the establishment of “Environment Relief Fund.” This fund may be utilized by the collector for paying the compensation.
This Act is aimed to provide for strict liability for damages arising out of any accident occurring while handling any hazardous substance and for the establishment of a National Environment Tribunal for effective and expeditious disposal of cases arising from such accident, with a view to giving relief and compensation for damages to persons, property and the environment and for matters connected with it. The beauty of this Act lies in the fact that the liability of the owner of hazardous substance has been made strict in case of any accident and the resultant injury to public. In any claim for the compensation, the claimant is not required to plead and establish that the death, injury or damage in respect of which the claim has been made was due to any wrongful act, neglect or default of any person. So, the burden of proof does not rest upon the claimant of compensation which is a big relief for the victims.
The National Environment Appellate Authority (NEAA) was set up by the Ministry of Environment and Forests to address cases in which environment clearance is required in certain restricted areas. It was established by the National Environment Appellate Authority Act 1997 to hear appeals with respect to restriction of areas in which any industries, operations, processes or class of industries, operations or processes shall or shall not be carried out, subject to certain safeguards under the Environment Protection Act, 1986.
The Ozone Depleting Substances (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 The Ozone Depleting Substances (Regulation and Control) Rules have been laid down for the regulation of production and consumption of ozone depleting substances. The main objective of this rule is protection of the Ozone layer. The rule restricts unauthorized sale, purchase, import, export and use of ozone depleting substance. ‘Ozone Depleting Substances’ (ODS) are the products which lead to the depletion of ozone layer. CFC (CHLOROFLUOROCARBON) is an example of ODS.
The Pollution Control Boards are statutory bodies constituted with an objective to protect and promote the atmosphere and to control pollution.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) a statutory organisation, was constituted in September, 1974 under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 to deal with the rise in pollution. Further, CPCB was entrusted with the powers and functions under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981. Principal functions of the CPCB:
The State Governments also have their Pollution Control Boards for example, UPPCB (Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board), DPCC (Delhi Pollution Control Board), HPCB (Haryana State Pollution Control Board), RPCB (Rajasthan Pollution Control Board), etc.
The environment is a place or surrounding where we live and to keep it clean is an essential requirement for the survival of human beings.
Pollution is an unfavourable alteration of a surrounding. It is the addition of any foreign material to air, water or soil. Urbanisation, industrialisation, over-population, over-exploitation of resources are some of the factors which have contributed to environmental deterioration. Pollution is categorized in the following areas: Water pollution; Air pollution; Noise pollution; Land pollution; Solid Water pollution; Food pollution; Thermal pollution; Nuclear pollution.
Every human being or animal requires food, clean water and clean air to make its survival possible. The various legislations, rules with respect to the protection and promotion of environment are:
The Central Pollution Control Boards are constituted under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, to deal with rise in pollution.
Environmental protection is a practice of protecting the natural environment at individual organization or governmental levels, for the benefit of natural environment and humans.
Environmental protection is influenced by three interwoven factors :
The two main functions of Central Pollution Control Board are:
The two main functions of State Pollution Boards are :