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Key Regulations:
Environment
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Over the years, there has been an increasing consciousness and realisation that environmental quality and economic development are complementary and not mutually exclusive. This is because, with technological advancements, environmental challenges are also on rise. As a result, there is a need to bring about necessary changes in the industrial and agricultural production patterns, utility services, consumer behaviour and life styles of the people keeping in view our social and developmental priorities for conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. Hence, environmental regulations and standards have been set up by environmental bodies world around. Indian industry and business too are under increasing pressure of meeting these environmental standards and regulations.

Recognising the importance of environment, its protection has been given a Constitutional status. The 'Directive Principles of State Policy' state 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 is also the 'Fundamental duty' of every citizen 'to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife'.

In India, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) is the apex administrative body for :- (i) regulating and ensuring environmental protection; (ii) formulating the environmental policy framework in the country; (iii) undertaking conservation & survey of flora, fauna, forests and wildlife; and (iv) planning, promotion, co-ordination and overseeing the implementation of environmental and forestry programmes. The Ministry is also the Nodal agency in the country for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The organizational structure of the Ministry covers number of Divisions, Directorate, Board, Subordinate Offices, Autonomous Institutions, and Public Sector Undertakings to assist it in achieving all these objectives.

Besides, the responsibility for prevention and control of industrial pollution is primarily executed by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) at the Central Level, which is a statutory authority, attached to the MoEF. The State Departments of Environment and State Pollution Control Boards are the designated agencies to perform this function at the State Level.

Central government has enacted several laws for environmental protection. The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, is the umbrella legislation which 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. According to the Act, the term "environment" includes water, air and land and the inter- relationship which exists among and between water, air and land, and human beings, other living creatures, plants, micro-organism and property.

The main provisions of the Act are:-

  • The Central Government shall have the power to take all such measures as it deems necessary or expedient for the purpose of protecting and improving the quality of the environment and preventing, controlling and abating environmental pollution.


  • No person carrying on any industry, operation or process shall discharge or emit any environmental pollutants or permit to do so in excess of such standards as may be prescribed.


  • Where the discharge of any environmental pollutant in excess of the prescribed standards occurs or is apprehended to occur due to any accident or other unforeseen act or event, the person responsible for such discharge and the person in charge of the place at which such discharge occurs or is apprehended to occur, shall be bound to prevent or mitigate the environmental pollution caused as a result of such discharge and shall also forthwith intimate the fact of such occurrence or apprehension of such occurrence; and be bound, if called upon, to render all assistance to such authorities or agencies as may be prescribed.


  • No person shall handle or cause to be handled any hazardous substance except in accordance with such procedure and after complying with such safeguards as may be prescribed.


  • The Central Government or any officer empowered by it in this behalf, shall have power to take, for the purpose of analysis, samples of air, water, soil or other substance from any factory, premises or other place in such manner as may be prescribed.


  • The Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, establish one or more environmental laboratories; and recognise one or more laboratories or institutes as environmental laboratories to carry out the functions entrusted to an environmental laboratory under this Act.


  • Whoever fails to comply with or contravenes any of the provisions of this Act, or the rules made or orders or directions issued thereunder, shall, in respect of each such failure or contravention, be punishable with imprisonment or with fine or with both.

The other important environmental legislations may be categorised as follows:-

A comprehensive policy framework has also been developed to complement the legislative provisions. The most important being the National Environment Policy - 2006 . The policy is in response to our national commitment to a clean environment mandated in the Constitution. It is intended to mainstream environmental concerns in all development activities. It briefly describes the key environmental challenges currently and prospectively facing the country, the objectives of the policy, normative principles underlying policy action, broad indications of the legislative and institutional development needed to accomplish the strategic themes, and mechanisms for implementation and review. It also seeks to stimulate partnerships of different stakeholders i.e. public agencies, local communities, academic and scientific institutions, the investment community, and international development partners in harnessing their respective resources and strengths for environmental management.

Also, several sector-specific policies have been evolved, the major being:-

Also, an Environmental Information System (ENVIS) has been established as a plan programme and as a comprehensive network in environmental information collection, collation, storage, retrieval and dissemination to varying users. The focus of ENVIS since inception has been on providing this environmental information to decision makers, policy planners, scientists and engineers, research workers, etc all over the country. ENVIS has developed itself with a network of participating institutions/organisations. A large number of nodes, known as ENVIS Centres, have been established in this network to cover the broad subject areas of environment with the focal point at the Ministry of Environment and Forest. These Centres have been set up in the areas of pollution control, toxic chemicals, central and offshore ecology, environmentally sound and appropriate technology, bio-degradation of wastes and environment management, etc.

The responsibility of the ENVIS Centres and Nodes are:-

  • Establishment of linkages with all information sources, and creation of data bank on selected parameters in the subject area assigned.


  • Identification of information gaps.


  • Publish newsletters and Bulletins.


  • Develop library facility and provide support to the focal point on the subject area.


  • Serve as an interface for the users on the assigned subject.

International Cooperation and Agreements on Environmental Issues

India is a signatory to a number of multilateral environment agreements (MEAs) and conventions. International Co-operation & Sustainable Development Division (IC&SD) is the nodal point within the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to co-ordinate all international environmental cooperation and sustainable development issues. It is also the nodal division for United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP),Nairobi; South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme (SACEP), Colombo. The Division also handles bilateral issues and matters pertaining to multilateral bodies such as the Commission on Sustainable Development; Environment Support Programme of UNDP under Country Cooperation Framework-1; Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the regional bodies like Economic & Social Commission for Asia & Pacific (ESCAP); South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC); European Union (EU) and the India Canada Environment Facility. The major agreements and conventions are:-

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