Environment Legislations

Environmental legislation’s:

  1. Water [prevention and control of pollution] act, 1974:
  2. Regulatory authority was vested in state pollution control boards and a central board. The central board would act as a coordinator between state boards and enact policies. S.P.C.B’s could enact effluent standards for factories.
  3. S.P.C.B’s could grant or deny consent to discharge in factories.
  4. The S.P.C.B had the power to inspect factory premises and conduct analysis of samples. It could also cutoff water, electricity to a premise. Provision of citizen suit to was created.
  5. Water [prevention and control of pollution] Cess act, 1977:
  6. A cess shall be applicable on industries which discharge effluents. The act also gave a rebate of 70% to those industries which have effluent treatment plants. The cess amount would be used by government to implement water act, 1974 and give capital grants to C.P.C.B and S.P.C.B.
  7. Air [prevention and control of pollution] act, 1981:
  8. Implemented to control air pollution and improve quality of air.
  9. The S.P.C.B had the power to inspect factory premises and conduct analysis of samples. It could also cutoff water, electricity to a premise. Provision of citizen suit to was created.
  10. Powers of C.P.C.B/S.P.C.B were increased to include air and noise pollution.
  11. The industries operating within designated areas must obtain consent or permit from the S.P.C.B.
  12. The state governments were to prescribe emission standards for industries and vehicles after consulting C.P.C.B.
  13. Environment protection act, 1986
  14. Passed in response to the Bhopal gas tragedy for protecting human environment and preventing hazards to human health. It is an umbrella act that provides framework for other legislation’s and provides for coordination between central government and central and state authorities.
  15. Center can prescribe environment quality standards for emissions and effluents, regulate industrial locations, collect and dismantle environment pollution information, establish safeguards protecting environment and prescribe procedure to handle hazardous substances.
  16. Gives central government authority power to regulate water, electricity to an industry and power to inspect, examine industries.
  17. Citizens can file a suit alleging an offense under this act.

Western Ghats – Eco Sensitive Zone

Government of India has notified nearly 57000 sq km area of the Western ghats as eco sensitive zone. The states under which this land is present are Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Eco sensitive zones are declared under the Environment Protection Act.

The mining, quarrying, sand mining projects, thermal power plants and building and construction projects shall be banned under this notification. These industries shall be classified as “Red” category industries. “Orange” category industry shall be strictly regulated. The stakeholders have been given 60 days to make suggestions. After which the notification shall come into force.

However criticisms have been received against the process. The earlier Madhav Gadgil committee had recommended that the entire area be declared eco sensitive. This wasn’t accepted an the Kasturirangan committee declared around 37% of the area as eco sensitive.

The government of Kerala had objected to a large portion being declared eco sensitive as this would have affected livelihoods. Hence the final notification has taken the state government’s views into consideration and allowed for a smaller area to be declared eco sensitive.

  1. Wildlife protection act, 1972
  2. Establishment of state wildlife boards, create Schedules I [endangered], II [special protection], III [big game], IV [small game], V [vermin] of animals to categorize them, establish sanctuaries and national parks, permit capture of wild animals for hunting, penalties for violations, regulate hunting.
  3. Forest conservation act, 1980
  4. Categorizes forests into reserved, village, protected and private. A state may declare a forestland or wasteland as a reserve forest and sell produce from it. Any unauthorized felling, quarrying, grazing is an offense. Reserved forests assigned to a village are village forests.
  5. State government can declare a forest as protected and prohibit any commercial exploitation there. Any diversion of forest land for non forest use needs approval of the center.
  6. Biodiversity act, 2002:


  1. National biodiversity authority at the center, state biodiversity boards and district biodiversity management committees to be setup.
  2. All foreign organizations and nationals need to obtain permission of the NBA before accessing biological resources or knowledge for use.
  3. All monetary benefits arising out of approvals granted by NBA are to be deposited in the national biodiversity fund.
  4. Prior permission of state biodiversity boards needed before biological resources can be imported.
  5. NBA can impose terms to ensure equitable sharing of benefits. Before applying for any I.P.R abroad on basis of biological resource obtained from India, NBA approval is needed.
  6. NBA has the powers of a civil court.
  7. State government can declare national heritage sites after consulting local governments. Center can issue directives to states if it feels a naturally rich area is threatened by overuse, abuse, neglect.

International legislation’s:

Convention is a framework to be respected by all signatories by enacting national legislation’s. Protocol is an international agreement to support a convention that is linked to a convention but adds new commitments to it.

  1. CITES [convention on international trade in endangered species of wild flora and fauna] is an international agreement between governments. It aims to ensure that international trade of wild animals and plants doesn’t threaten their survival.
  2.  I.U.C.N [international union for conservation of nature and natural resources]:  it’s the world oldest and largest organization for conservation. HQ – Gland, Switzerland. Have recognized eight red list categories of plants and animals. These are extinct, extinct in the wild, critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable, low risk, data deficient, not evaluated. The mandate of I.U.C.N includes help implement conservation laws, run field projects, support governments and authorities in policy making.
  3. Wetland convention [Ramsar]:
  4. UNESCO is the depository of this convention and the Ramsar Secretariat is at Gland, Switzerland. The objective of this convention is to halt loss of wetlands and conserve their flora, fauna.
  5. Designates internationally important wetlands.
  6. Promote training and research, judicious use of wetlands, coordination amongst nations for implementation.
  7. Montreal protocol
  8. To implement the Vienna convention on protection of ozone layer this protocol was implemented to reduce man made ozone depleting substances.
  9. The protocol ensures compliance by enforcing bans on hazardous ozone depleting substances, control on trade with non parties and technology transfer to developing countries.
  10. UN framework convention on climate changes
  11. To control emission of greenhouse gases to ensure that the climate change isn’t drastic and natural habitat can adapt to the emissions without affecting food production.
  12. This convention was unveiled at the UN conference on environment and development [U.N.C.E.D] in Rio de Janiero, 1992 [earth summit].
  13. Under this convention the Kyoto protocol was drafted in 1997 to reduce global emissions of G.H.G’s to 5% less than the 1990’s levels by 2000. Kyoto protocol entered into force in 2005.

Kyoto protocol:

The developed countries are placed in Annex I and they have the heaviest responsibility of fighting climate change by reducing emissions. The countries of O.E.C.D and 12 transition nations were expected to reduce emissions compulsorily. These nations were also expected to give grants and loans and transfer technology to less advanced countries. The financial support is managed by Global Environment Facility.

Developing countries like India, china were non annex countries with no binding targets.

Annex- II a subgroup of annex-i countries which would provide funding to poor countries.

Annex- A had the 6 G.H.G’s like CO2, Methane, CFC, Sulphur Hexafluoride, Perfluorocarbons, and Nitrous Oxide.

Annex-B was the targets for annex-i countries.

  1. Convention of biological diversity [CBD]: this convention was signed in 1992 at the earth summit [UNCED]. The convention has three parts: conservation of biodiversity, sustainable use of biodiversity, equitable sharing of benefits that arise out of genetic resources.

                                                       Fig 2: Earth Summit

International bodies: 

UN Environment Program [U.N.E.P]:

It was created by the UN general assembly at the UN conference on human environment, Stockholm in 1972. It is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya.

Its main mandate is to coordinate development of environment policy for keeping global environment under review and bringing emerging issues to the attention of governments and international community for action.

The divisions of U.N.E.P are:

  1. Early warning and assessment
  2. Environment policy implementation
  3. Technology, industry, economics
  4. Regional cooperation
  5. Environment law and conventions
  6. Global environment facility
  7. Communication and public coordination

Environment impact assessment:

E.I.A is a tool that ensures that the project is environmentally sound and within the capacity of the ecosystem to assimilate and regenerate. It improves decision making by reducing the adverse impact of development projects.

E.I.A has now become mandatory for 29 development projects with investment of Rs. 50 Crores or more under the Environment Protection Act, 1986.

 Step 1: the environment appraisal committees are created for projects like nuclear, thermal, mining, industry, river valley, and infrastructure development. Once an application is received it is sent to E.A.C for approval or rejection recommendation. Once the recommendations are obtained the ministry of environment makes final decision in 90 days.

 Step 2: a post clearance monitoring is done to check adequacy of safeguards and make mid course corrections if needed.

Solved Question Papers

Q.The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee is constituted under the (UPSC CSAT 2015)

    • Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006
    • Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999
    • Environment (Protection) Act, 1986
    • Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972

Ans . C

  1. he Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is the apex body constituted in the Ministry of Environment and Forests under ‘Rules for Manufacture, Use, Import, Export and Storage of Hazardous Microorganisms/Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells 1989’, under the Environment Protection Act, 1986.

Chapter Review

Score more than 80% marks and move ahead else stay back and read again!

Q1:SPCB under the Water Act have powers to
1.grant or deny consent to discharge in factories.
2.S.P.C.B’s could enact effluent standards for factories.
3.The S.P.C.B had the power to inspect factory premises and conduct analysis of samples

Q2:Air [prevention and control of pollution] act, 1981 empowers SPCB too
1.control air pollution and improve quality of air
2.The S.P.C.B had the power to inspect factory premises and conduct analysis of samples
3.The industries operating within designated areas must obtain consent or permit from the S.P.C.B.

Q3:Ecologically Sensitive zones can be declared under
1.Water Act
2.Air Act
3.Environment Protection Act
4.Wildlife protection Act

Q4:National parks can be established under
1.Wildlife protection Act
2.Environment Protection Act

Q5:State government can declare a forest as protected and prohibit any commercial exploitation there under which Act?
1.Environment Protection Act
2.Wildlife protection Act
3.Forest Conservation Act