Realising the role of rapid industrialization in deteriorating air and water quality, the Government of India introduced the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 with the primary objective of prevention and control of water pollution. Although all human activities with a bearing on water quality are covered by this Act, but, for practical reasons, prioritisation of polluting activities has been done and industrial pollution assigned the highest priority. The Water Act is administered by the CPCB and the State Pollution Control Boards. The State Pollution Control Boards grant consent, lay down conditions relating to point of discharge and nature, composition, temperature and volume of discharge. Non-compliance with the provisions of the Water Act is punishable with imprisonment and fine. Courts also take cognizance of any offence under the Water Act.
Similarly, the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 covers the prevention, control and abatement of air pollution. The State. Pollution Control Boards also grant consent for the industrial units operating in air pollution control areas as declared by the concerned State Governments.Government.
The Environment Protection Act, 1986 is an umbrella Act providing for the protection and improvement of environment and for matters connected therewith. It specifically provides that;
"No person carrying on any industry, operation or process, should discharge or emit or permit to be discharged or emitted any environmental pollutant in excess of such standards as may be prescribed".
Under the Environmental Protection Act, 1986 have been formulated guidelines for handling and management of toxic wastes. This Act has also formed the basis for Environmental Impact Assessment Notification in 1994 leading to mandatory environmental clearance by the Central and State Governments to various kinds of development activities including 29 types of highly polluting industries.
The expectation that such penalties as heavy fines and imprisonment upto 5-7 years for contravention of the provisions of the EPA, 1986 would activate the regulatory authorities and the industrial enterprises alike has not been fulfilled because not a single defaulting chief executive has been subjected to the prescribed deterrent penalty so far. The working of the regulatory agencies at the Central and State level calls for a review to ensure that they deliver rather than merely swelling the ranks of "Inspectors" ready to capitalize on their nuisance value.
10.1. Public Interest Litigation (PIL) and Public Hearings:
For easy and quick redressal of public grievances, relating to environmental degradation was introduced in 1985 (Dehradun-Mussorie limestone mining case) the scheme of PIL under which the aggrieved parties could approach the court, in public interest, for intervention at no cost. Subsequently, it has been used in many cases involving industry / project authorities / State & Central Government.
Involvement of the public in the location & environmental clearance of development projects has been facilitated by mandatory "Public Hearings". Failure to comply with the principle of "Right to know" makes informed public involvement rather limited. Moreover, the project authorities seeking public involvement after finalising the site and Detailed Project Report present the public with a fait -accompli thereby making the dialogue look like a mere formality.
10.2 Fiscal Incentives :
Under the Air and Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Acts have been introduced several fiscal incentives. Some of the important provisions include the following: