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  • Paras Sharma


Written by: Aadesh Kumar Shrivastava and Aadarsh Kumar Shrivastava, Students, Kalinga Institute Of Industrial Technology Bhubaneshwar & Government New Law College Indore M.P



It is a sad truth for us that, after the starting of industrial era, the graph of exploitation of natural resources is constantly rising with unimaginable rates. Today, environmental exploitation is at its peak in world and India is sharing a major portion of it. In the present context, there is a dire need for environmental protection and sustainable use of natural resources, which is also reflected in India's constitutional and legislative frameworks and India's international commitments.

In India, cleaning up of surroundings and protection of environment is the essence of the Vedic culture. In religious mythology, the environment has a separate place equal to God/Goddess and forests, trees and wildlife held a special reference. Everyone wants to life a peaceful and pollution free life. It is the constitutional and basic human right of every individual, to live and to grow in a pollution free environment. This article aims to provide the suggestive measures and the need of various enactments related to environment in India.


The word “Environment” is derived from the French word ‘Environer’ which means ‘To encircle’ or ‘To surround’.[1]

According to section 2(a) of Environment Protection Act 1986 environment is defined as–

“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.”[2]

According to Merriam Webster[3] Environment is further elaborated into two groups-

a: the complex of physical, chemical, and biotic factors (such as climate, soil, and living things) that act upon an organism or an ecological community and ultimately determine its form and survival

b: the aggregate of social and cultural conditions that influence the life of an individual or community

So, apart from the physical and biological aspect, the environment is the social, economic, cultural, religious, and several other aspects too.

Environmental pollution is defined in section 2(c) of the environment protection act 1986 as-

Environmental pollution means the presence in the environment of any environmental pollutant whereas pollutant means any solid, liquid or gaseous substance present in such concentration as may be, or tend to be, injurious to environment.[4]


It is the need of an hour to think for environment degradation which is at its peak today, due to the unjust exploitation of resources. The protection and improvement of the human environment is a major issue which affects the well-being of peoples and economic development throughout the world; it is the urgent desire of the peoples of the whole world and the duty of all Governments[5].


The state is bound by the constitution to provide the quality environment endeavor to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wild life of the country.[6] As per article 253 of Indian Constitution, Parliament has power to enact any law for the whole or any part of India in furtherance of any international treaty, agreement or convention or any decision made at any international conference, association or other body. And the decision made hereunder shall never be questioned in court for competency.

Similarly, The Indian constitution has obliged citizens too with fundamental duties. According to article 51A(g) of constitution it is fundamental duty to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures.

Preservation of the environment and keeping the ecological balance unaffected is a task which not only Government but also every citizen must undertake. It is a social obligation and let us remind every Indian citizen that it is his fundamental duty as enshrined in Article 51A(g) of the Constitution.[7]

In the matter of L.K Kollwal v/s State of Rajasthan, honble High Court held that- the municipal authorities are bound to provide adequate sanitation and to clean up the entire city within six month because when every citizen owes a constitutional duty to protect the environment, the citizen must be also entitled to enlist the court’s aid in enforcing that duty against State.[8]

In Charan Lal Sahu v. Union of India, the apex court has opined that it is the duty of the state to take adequate and effective steps for the enforcement and protection of Constitutional rights guaranteed under Article 21, 48-A and 51-A(g).


The Environment Protection Act, 1986 is enacted for the protection and improvement of environment. It is a legal framework for planning and implementing long-term requirements of environment protection. Under this Act, the Central Government is empowered to take measures which are necessary to protect and improve the quality of environment in coordination with state government and other authorities. According to section 15 of the act every wrongdoer who contravene the rules or directions of the Environment Act, will be punished with imprisonment up to five years or with fine up to Rs 1,00,000, or with both. In case of continuation of such violation, an additional fine of up to Rs 5,000 per day will be charged till such failure or contravention continues after conviction. Further, if the violation continues beyond a period of one year after the date of conviction, the offender shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years.[9]


The Water Prevention and Control of Pollution Act, 1974[10] is enacted to for the prevention and control of water pollution in the country. This act is a legal mechanism for control of water pollution under which central and state boards are established which lays down standards for the prevention and control of water pollution. The Water Prevention and Control of Pollution Act prohibit the discharge of pollutants into water bodies beyond a given standard, and lays down penalties for non-compliance and contravention.


As per Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016[11]-“Hazardous waste” means any waste which by reason of characteristics such as physical, chemical, biological, reactive, toxic, flammable, explosive or corrosive, causes danger or is likely to cause danger to health or environment, whether alone or in contact with other waste or substances.

It encourages the reduction of hazardous waste generation and promotes its recycling and reusing. These rules are made to protect the environment and the persons who come into contact with the hazardous waste. According to these rules, the guidelines are prepared related to the import and export and storage and transportation of hazardous wastes. These rules obliged the boards to ensure the management and handling of hazardous waste in the correct procedure.


According to the commitment and decision of Stockholm Conference the Air Prevention and Control of Pollution Act, 1981 is enacted by the Parliament under Article 253. This act controls the air pollution and formulates the air quality standards. As per the preamble of this act- it is enacted for the prevention, control and abatement of air pollution, for the establishment, with a view to carrying out the aforesaid purposes, of Boards, for conferring on and assigning to such Boards powers and functions relating thereto and for matters connected therewith.

In the matter of Subhash Kumar v. State of Bihar 1991, it was held that right to life under Article 21 included the right to a healthy and safe environment, which in turn included the right to pollution-free air and water for the full enjoyment of life. It was held that municipalities and other governmental bodies had an obligation of taking positive measures to ensure a healthy environment.[12]

Whoever contravenes any of the provisions of this Act or any order or direction issued under this act shall be punished with imprisonment or fine or with both.


The noise pollution rules are formulated under the Environment Protection Act 1986 and are for the management and control of noise pollution in the country.


“If You Make A Mess, It Becomes Your Duty To Clean It Up”.

This principle was for the first time referred to in the year 1972 in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Guiding Principles concerning International Economic Aspects of Environmental Policies. The Polluter-Pays Principle means that the polluter should bear the "costs of pollution prevention and control measures", the latter being "measures decided by public authorities to ensure that the environment is in an acceptable state". In other words the polluter has to bear the cost of steps that he is legally bound to take to protect the environment, such as measures to reduce the pollutant emissions at source and measures to avoid pollution by collective treatment of effluent from a polluting installation and other sources of pollution.[13]

Vellore Citizens' Welfare Forum vs. Union of India

The Court interpreted the meaning of the Polluter Pays Principle as the absolute liability for harm to the environment extends not only to compensate the victims of the pollution but also the cost of restoring the environmental degradation. Remediation of the damaged environment is part of the process of 'Sustainable Development' and as such the polluter is liable to pay the cost to the individual sufferers as well as the cost of reversing the damaged ecology."[14]

M. C. Mehta vs Kamal Nath & Ors

The Court held that pollution is a civil wrong and is a tort committed against the community as a whole. Thus, any person guilty of causing pollution has to pay damages (compensation) for restoration of the environment and ecology. Under the Polluter Pays Principle, it is not the role of Government to meet the costs involved in either prevention of such damage, or in carrying out remedial action, because the effect of this would be to shift the financial burden of the pollution incident to the taxpayer.[15]

THE DRAFT Environment Impact Assessment, 2020

The Environment Impact Assessment is an important regulation that prevents industrial and infrastructure projects from being approved or cleared without following and fulfilling the required safeguards.

The purpose of the EIA is to scrutinize and assess the environmental impact of a project before the project has entered its development phase so that it can be gauged whether the project is to be allowed due to its low environment risk/damage or to be rejected due to the high risk it carries for the environment.[16]

The draft has been prepared and submitted for public suggestions. Now as per the report of The Print- “The Environment Impact Assessment Notification draft has been widely criticised by experts and activists, who say it has adopted a regressive approach in a departure from the existing 2006 version, and that it fosters non-transparency and encourages environmental violations”.[17]


It is a need of the present era to protect the environment so as to reduce the destruction of eco-systems caused due to anthropogenic activities. It is a moral obligation for every human to protect the environment from degradation. In the present context, various human activities over the past several years have led to many undesirable and adverse impacts to the environment which is indeed a threat to human health, economy, natural resources, growth and development.

References [1] Kezhokhoto Savi,The importance of environment protection- [2] Environment protection Act 1986- [3] Definition of environment - [4] Environment protection Act 1986- [5] Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment [6] Article 48A of Indian Constitution [7] Kinkri Devi And Anr. vs State Of Himachal Pradesh And Ors AIR (1988) HP 4 [8] L.K. Koolwal vs State Of Rajasthan And Ors.AIR 1988 Raj 2, 1987 (1) WLN 134

[9] The environment protection act 1986 - [10]THE WATER (PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF POLLUTION) ACT 1974 [11] Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016 [12] Subhash Kumar v. State of Bihar 1991 1991 AIR 420, 1991 SCR (1) 5 [13] Polluter Pays Principle ORGANISATION FOR ECONOMIC CO-OPERATION AND DEVELOPMENT Paris 1992- [14] Vellore Citizens' Welfare Forum vs. Union of India 1996(5) SCC 647 [15] M. C. Mehta vs Kamal Nath & Ors (1997)1SCC388 [16] Yashwardhan Singh Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Draft Notification 2020: Legalizing Environmental Destruction?- [17] What Modi govt’s EIA draft says & why environment experts think it’ll encourage violations-


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