Environment Protection Act, 1986
Environment Protection Act, 1986 is an Act of the Parliament of India. In the wake of the Bhopal Tragedy, 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. The purpose of the Act is to implement the decisions of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environments. 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.
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 there with: WHEREAS 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. AND WHEREAS 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.
This act has four Chapters and 26 Sections. 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 2 describes general powers of Central Government. Section 3 gives the Central Government the power to take action to protect the environment. Section 4 allows the 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, process etc. It also gives Central Government the power to issue rules to regulate environmental pollution. The acts 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.
The areas on which restriction has been imposed by this act include Doon Valley in Uttrakhand, Aravali Regions in Alwar, Rajasthan, Coastal zones and ecologically sensitive zones, etc.
The proposed amendments dilute the 1986 Act almost entirely and would promote environmental degradation in substantial way.
Early examples of legal enactments designed to consciously preserve the environment, for its own sake or human enjoyment, are found throughout history. In the common law, the primary protection was found in the law of nuisance, but this only allowed for private actions for damages or injunctions if there was harm to land. Thus smells emanating from pig sties strict liability against dumping rubbish, or damage from exploding dams. Private enforcement, however, was limited and found to be woefully inadequate to deal with major environmental threats, particularly threats to common resources. During the “Great Stink” of 1858, the dumping of sewerage into the River Thames began to smell so ghastly in the summer heat that Parliament had to be evacuated. Ironically, the Metropolitan Commission of Sewers Act 1848 had allowed the Metropolitan Commission for Sewers to close cesspits around the city in an attempt to “clean up” but this simply led people to pollute the river. In 19 days, Parliament passed a further Act to build the London sewerage system. London also suffered from terrible air pollution, and this culminated in the “Great Smog” of 1952, which in turn triggered its own legislative response: the Clean Air Act 1956. The basic regulatory structure was to set limits on emissions for households and business (particularly burning coal) while an inspectorate would enforce compliance,
Not withstanding early analogues, the concept of “environmental law” as a separate and distinct body of law is a twentieth-century development. The recognition that the natural environment was fragile and in need of special legal protections, the translation of that recognition into legal structures, the development of those structures into a larger body of “environmental law,” and the strong influence of environmental law on natural resource laws, did not occur until about the 1960s. At that time, numerous influences – including a growing awareness of the unity and fragility of the biosphere; increased public concern over the impact of industrial activity on natural resources and human health; the increasing strength of the regulatory state; and more broadly the advent and success of environmentalism as a political movement – coalesced to produce a huge new body of law in a relatively short period of time. While the modern history of environmental law is one of continuing controversy, by the end of the twentieth century environmental law had been established as a component of the legal landscape in all developed nations of the world, many developing ones, and the larger project of international law.
Water quality laws govern the release of pollutants into water resources, including surface water, ground water, and stored drinking water. Some water quality laws, such as drinking water regulations, may be designed solely with reference to human health. Many others, including restrictions on the alteration of the chemical, physical, radiological, and biological characteristics of water resources, may also reflect efforts to protect aquatic ecosystems more broadly. Regulatory efforts may include identifying and categorizing water pollutants, dictating acceptable pollutant concentrations in water resources, and limiting pollutant discharges from effluent sources. Regulatory areas include sewage treatment and disposal, industrial and agricultural waste water management, and control of surface runoff from construction sites and urban environments.
Waste management laws govern the transport, treatment, storage, and disposal of all manner of waste, including municipal solid waste, hazardous waste, and nuclear waste, among many other types. Waste laws are generally designed to minimize or eliminate the uncontrolled dispersal of waste materials into the environment in a manner that may cause ecological or biological harm, and include laws designed to reduce the generation of waste and promote or mandate waste recycling. Regulatory efforts include identifying and categorizing waste types and mandating transport, treatment, storage, and disposal practices.
Environmental clean-up laws govern the removal of pollution or contaminants from environmental media such as soil, sediment, surface water, or ground water. Unlike pollution control laws, clean-up laws are designed to respond after-the-fact to environmental contamination, and consequently must often define not only the necessary response actions, but also the parties who may be responsible for undertaking (or paying for) such actions. Regulatory requirements may include rules for emergency response, liability allocation, site assessment, remedial investigation, feasibility studies, remedial action, post-remedial monitoring, and site reuse.
Chemical safety laws govern the use of chemicals in human activities, particularly man-made chemicals in modern industrial applications. As contrasted with media-oriented environmental laws (e.g., air or water quality laws), chemical control laws seek to manage the (potential) pollutants themselves. Regulatory efforts include banning specific chemical constituents in consumer products (e.g.. Bisphenol A in plastic bottles), and regulating pesticides.
Environmental impact assessment (EA)
Environmental impact assessment (EA) is the assessment of the environmental consequences (positive and negative) of a plan, policy. program, or actual projects prior to the decision to move forward with the proposed action. In this context, the term “environmental impact assessment” (EIA) is usually used when applied to actual projects by individuals or companies and the term “strategic environmental assessment” (SEA) applies to policies, plans and programmes most often proposed by organs of state. Environmental assessments may be governed by rules of administrative procedure regarding public participation and documentation of decision making, and may be subject to judicial review.
Water resources laws govern the ownership and use of water resources, including surface water and ground water. Regulatory areas may include water conservation, use restrictions, and ownership regimes.
Mineral resource laws cover several basic topics, including the ownership of the mineral resource and who can work them. Mining is also affected by various regulations regarding the health and safety of miners, as well as the environmental impact of mining.
Forestry laws govern activities in designated forest lands, most commonly with respect to forest management and timber harvesting. Ancillary laws may regulate forest land acquisition and prescribed burn practices. Forest management laws generally adopt management policies, such as multiple use and sustained yield, by which public forest resources are to be managed. Governmental agencies are generally responsible for planning and implementing forestry laws on public forest lands, and may be involved in forest inventory, planning, and conservation, and oversight of timber sales. Broader initiatives may seek to slow or reverse deforestation.
Wildlife and plants
Wildlife laws govern the potential impact of human activity on wild animals, whether directly on individuals or populations, or indirectly via habitat degradation. Similar laws may operate to protect plant species. Such laws may be enacted entirely to protect biodiversity, or as a means for protecting species deemed important for other reasons. Regulatory efforts may including the creation of special conservation statuses, prohibitions on killing, harming, or disturbing protected species, efforts to induce and support species recovery, establishment of wildlife refuges to support conservation, and prohibitions on trafficking in species or animal parts to combat poaching.
Fish and game law
Fish and game laws regulate the right to pursue and take or kill certain kinds of fish and wild animal (game). Such laws may restrict the days to harvest fish or game, the number of animals caught per person, the species harvested, or the weapons or fishing gear used. Such laws may seek to balance duelling needs for preservation and harvest and to manage both environment and populations of fish and game. Game laws can provide a legal structure to collect license fees and other money which is used to fund conservation efforts as well as to obtain harvest information used in wildlife management practice.
Principles of Environment law
Environmental law has developed in response to emerging awareness of and concern over issues impacting the entire world. While laws have developed piecemeal and for a variety of reasons, some effort has gone into identifying key concepts and guiding principles common to environmental law as a whole. The principles discussed below are not an exhaustive list and are not universally recognized or accepted. Nonetheless, they represent important principles for the understanding of environmental law around the world.
- Economic Environment- Economic, Financial System & Policies
- Political Environment of Business
- Ecosystem- Meaning, Management, Threats, Major Processes
- Social and Cultural Environment of Business
- Technological Environment of Business
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