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Environment Protection Act 1986

Context:

The Union Environment Ministry proposes to soften the provisions of the EP Act (EPA) by replacing a clause that provides for imprisoning violators with one that only requires them to pay a fine.

Relevance:

GS III- Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Environment (Protection) Act 1986
  2. Objectives of the Environment Protection Act
  3. Main Provisions of the Environment Protection Act

About Environment (Protection) Act 1986

  • The original constitution of India did not have any provisions related to natural environment conservation. However, by the 42nd amendment to the constitution, fundamental duties were added describing the protection of the natural environment that includes lakes, forests, wildlife, and rivers as the fundamental duty of all citizens.
  • EP Act was passed under Article 253 of the Constitution, which empowers the Centre to enact laws to give effect to international agreements signed by the country.
  • After the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment was held in Stockholm, in 1972, measures were taken for improving the environmental condition.
  • The Wildlife Protection Act 1972, Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974, and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981 were enacted followed by the Environment Protection Act 1986, passed by the Indian government for safeguarding the environment after the Bhopal Gas Tragedy on 2 December 1984, which emphasized on the need and measures for the protection of the environment.

Objectives of the Environment Protection Act

  • To protect the environment from degradation and take actions to improve the current condition.
  • To implement the decisions made at the UN Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm in 1972.
  • To set up a government body to look after the industries and regulate the effect they have on the environment, and also issue direct orders such as for closure of industries.
  • To punish and penalize those posing a danger to the environment, health, and safety.
    • For each failure, a fine of up to 1 Lakh, a prison term of five years, or both can be included. In certain cases, the term can be extended up to seven years.
  • To coordinate the work of the agencies for the protection of the environment under existing laws.
  • To enforce this law in all regions, including the places earlier exempted under previous laws.
  • To encourage and work towards sustainable development of the environment.

Main Provisions of the Environment Protection Act

  • Under this act, protection of the environment against all forms of pollution is covered, including air, water, soil, and noise.
  • The Centre can carry out various activities and programmes to further environmental protection.
  • The discharge or emission of environmental pollutants by industries will be regulated by safe standards, set by the Centre.
  • Any citizen, except the authorized government officers, can file a complaint regarding a breach of any of the provisions of the EPA.
  • Restrictions on certain locations for the establishment of a business or personal property can be imposed under this act if they seem to endanger the environment.
  • Under this act, samples of air, water, or soil from any place can be tested and analyzed by the authorized party.
  • The discharge of hazardous pollutants beyond safety standards by any individual or organization makes them liable for punishment and even a complete ban on their activity.
  • Management of hazardous substances should be done as per the regulatory norms of the government.

-Source: The Hindu


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