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AIR: Prevention And Control Of Pollution, Act 1981

The Act specifically empowers State Government to designate air pollution areas and to prescribe the type of fuel to be used in these particular areas and according to this Act, no person can operate certain types of industries including the asbestos, cement, fertilizer and petroleum industries without consent of the State Board.

Decisions were taken at the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm in June, 1972, in which India participated, to take suitable steps for the preservation of the natural resources of the Earth which, amid other things, include the preservation of the quality of air pollution.

The Government passed this Act in 1981 to clean up our air by controlling pollution and this Act also safeguards controlling the level of air pollution. Accordingly, the Indian government enacted exact laws under Article 253 of the Constitution for the preservation of natural resources and the law enacted for air preservation as this act applies to Whole of India.

The dominant factor for air pollution is the emergence of India pollutants, discharge of automobiles, smoke etc. and the polluted air case diseases like tuberculosis, lung cancer, asthma, bronchus, etc. and see is very dangerous pollutant which grows due to combination of smoke. It affects not only human health but likewise materials and plants. The part of the body which is affected maximum by smog is respiratory system.

AIR: Prevention And Control Of Pollution, Act 1981
It is mixture of gases that forms earth's atmosphere and it contains 20.95% oxygen, 78% nitrogen, 0.93% orogan, 0.03% carbon-dioxide with smallest quantities of ozone and inert gases water vapour differs between 0 and 4% and in industrial areas sulpher gases may be present in it and in this way it is clear that various components of air are present in it in a definite proportion.

Fresh Air" is that air in which various constituents are present in the scientifically recognized proportion and no such other element is present in it rendering it unfit for use and according to scientifically acknowledged norm in one unit of fresh air there is present 78% of nitrogen, .03% of carbon-dioxide and 20% of oxygen.

In addition to these, there are also current in it gases like Ozone, Hydrogen Sulfide, Sulpher-dioxide and Carbon-monoxide. If this ratio is disturbed owed to presence of any foreign substance in it the air cannot be said to be fresh air rather it would be polluted or contaminated air, unfit for use and air is also polluted by foul.

This is the Act that provide for the prevention, control and abatement of air pollution, for the establishment, with a view to carrying out these purposes, of Boards, for conferring on and assigning to such Boards powers and functions connecting thereto and for matters connect therewith.

An Act to provide for the prevention, control and abatement of air pollution, for the establishment, with a view to carrying out the aforesaid purposes, of Boards, for discussing on and assigning to such Boards powers and functions relating thereto and for matters connected therewith.

Whereas decisions were taken at the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm in June, 1972, in which India participated, to take appropriate steps for the protection of the natural resources of the earth which, among other things, include the preservation of the quality of air and control of air pollution; and whereas it is careful necessary to implement the choices aforesaid in so far as they relate to the preservation of the quality of air and control of air pollution.

According to the World Health Organization, the capital city New Delhi is one of the top most polluted cities in the world and as surveys indicate that in New Delhi the incidence of respiratory disease due to air pollution is about 12 times the national average.

The act Provides for the prevention, control and abatement of air pollution and it makes provisions, Interalia, for Central and State Boards, power to state pollution control areas, restrictions on certain industrial units, expert of the Boards to limit emission of air pollutants, power of entry, inspection, taking samples and analysis, penalties, offences by companies and Government and cognizance of offences etc..

Objectives Of The Act
The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 is a specialized legislation designed to tackle one side of environmental pollution and the main objectives of the Act are as follows:
  1. To Provide For The Prevention, Control And Abatement Of Air Pollution.

    Follow these Tips Every Day to Reduce Pollution:

    • Conserve Energy:
      At home, at work, everywhere and look for the ENERGY STAR label when buying home or office equipment.

      Carpool, use public transportation, bike, or walk whenever possible and follow gasoline refueling instructions for well-organized vapor recovery, being careful not to spill fuel and always tightening your gas cap securely and consider purchasing portable gasoline containers labeled "spill-proof," where available.

      Keep car, boat, and additional engines properly tuned and be sure your tires are properly inflated and use environmentally safe paints and cleaning products whenever possible.

      Mulch or compost leaves and yard waste and consider using gas logs instead of wood.
    • On Days when High Ozone Levels are Expected, Take these Extra Steps to Reduce Pollution:
      Choose a cleaner commute:
      share a ride to work or use public transportation and combine errands and reduce trips and walk to errands when possible.

      Avoid excessive idling of your automobile and refuel your car in the evening when its cooler and conserve electricity and set air conditioners no lower than 78 degrees.

      Defer lawn and gardening tasks that use gasoline-powered equipment, or wait until evening.
    • On Days when High Particle Levels are Expected, Take these Extra Steps to Reduce Pollution:
      Reduce the number of trips you take in your car and reduce or eliminate fireplace and wood stove use and avoid burning leaves, trash, and other materials and avoid using gas-powered lawn and garden equipment.
  2. To Provide For The Establishment Of Central And State Boards With A View To Implement The Act.

    Section 2(a) defines 'air pollutant' as any solid, liquid or gaseous substance that may be harming or injuring the environment, humans, other living creatures, plants or even property and through a 1987 Amendment, the noise was also included in the list of substances that are considered to be harmful to the environment and therefore, this Act also provides for the regulation of noise pollution.

    Section 3 of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 states that the constitution of the Central Pollution Control Board:
    • It shall have a full-time Chairman, having special knowledge and practical expertise in matters of environmental protection and taking knowledge and experience in administering institutions dealing with such matters and the Chairman will be nominated by the Central Government.
    • It shall have a full-time Secretary, who shall have the qualifications, knowledge and experience of scientific, engineering and management features of environmental protection and the Secretary will be appointed by the Central Government.
    • It shall have not more than five officials nominated by the Central Government to represent that Government and it shall not have more than five members nominated by the Central Government, chosen from amongst the members of the State Boards.
    • It shall not have more than three officials who represent the interests of the fishery, agriculture, or any other industry or trade, which the Government may think fit to be represented and it shall have 2 persons from the companies or corporations, owned, managed or controlled by the Central Government, nominated by that Government.
    Section 5(2) of the Act explains the constitution of a State Board:
    • A person, nominated by the State Government, who has special knowledge and practical experience of dealing with issues related to environmental protection, shall serve as the Chairman of the State Pollution Control Board. This Chairman may be whole-time or part-time. This decision will be left to the discretion of the State Government.
    • The Board shall further constitute of not more than five officials, nominated by the State Government, to serve as representatives of that Government.
    • Not more than five people from the local authorities, nominated by the State Government.
    • Not more than three officials nominated by the State Government, who are believed to be representing the interests of the industries of fishery, agriculture or any other industry or trade which the Central Government thinks ought to be represented.
    • Two persons from companies or corporations owned, managed or controlled by the State Government, and are nominated by that State Government.
    Section 6 states that in the case of Union Territories, the Central Board shall exercise the powers of a State Board under that Act, or it may even delegate these powers or functions to any person or body of persons.

    Therefore, we observe that while the, applies to only those States in which it has been given effect but the Air ( Prevention and Control of Air Pollution) Act 1981 applies to the whole of India in the first instance.
  3. To Confer On The Boards The Powers To Implement The Provisions Of The Act And Assign To The Boards Functions Relating To Pollution.

    Functions of the Central Board:
    The main functions of the Central Board shall be to improve the quality of air and to prevent, control or abate air pollution in the country. These are:
    • To advise the Central Government on any matter concerning the improvement of the quality of air and the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution
    • To plan and cause to be executed a nation-wide programme for the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution.
    • To co-ordinate the activities of the State and resolve disputes among them.
    • To provide technical assistance and guidance to the State Boards, carry out and sponsor investigations and research relating to problems of air pollution and prevention, control or abatement of air pollution.
    Functions of the State Board:
    The function of any State Board may be specified that are as follows:
    • To plan a comprehensive programme for the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution and to secure the execution thereof.
    • To advise the State Government on any matter concerning the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution.
    • To collect and disseminate information relating to air pollution.
    • To collaborate with the Central Board in organizing the training of persons engaged or to be engaged in programmes relating to prevention, control or abatement of air pollution and to organize mass-education programme relating thereto.
    • To inspect air pollution control areas at such intervals as it may think necessary, assess the quality of air therein and take steps for the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution in such areas.

Scope Of The Air (Prevention And Control Of Pollution) Act

The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 came into force on 16th May, 1981. It extends to the whole of India [Section 1 (2)] including Jammu and Kashmir. The statute is of general significance and that is why Jammu and Kashmir has not been excluded from its purview.

It will come into operation when it is proved that an activity results in air pollution, Schedule IV of the Environment Protection Rules 1986, framed under the Act, provides when air shall be deemed to be polluted by smoke or vapour from motor vehicles.

The Air Act has the primary aim of providing provisions to abate and control air pollution in the country, and sets up Boards in the centre and the state to carry out the necessary steps to achieve this aim. The Boards are given the power to set up regulations to ensure that air pollution is controlled in the country. The legislation also gives the Boards power to take action on the entities that fail to meet the air quality standards that are set.

The Act contains 54 sections, and VII chapters. Chapter II and Chapter III sets out the roles and responsibilities of the pollution control boards, Chapter IV regulates the pollution standards that are set and how they can be monitored and Chapter VI describes the penalties imposed in case of noncompliance.

This Act applies to the whole of India. The Act contains certain definitions which fall under the scope of this Act. Knowing these definitions is important as they will help to understand what qualifies as air pollution according to Indian law so that air polluters can be punished under this Act.

Under Section 2 of the Act, 15 expressions have been defined. Five definitions of them are formal which seek to summarise the language of the various provisions namely-Board, Central Board, member, prescribe and State Board. Other ten definitions are concerning such matters a indirectly affect the air.
  1. Air Pollutant. "Air Pollutant" means any solid, liquid substance including noise present in the atmosphere in such concentration may be or tend to be injurious to human beings or other living creatures or a plants or property or environment-[Section 2 (a)). Air pollutant has been comprehensively defined. It includes the following elements
    1. presence of any solid, gaseous or liquid substance including noise in air.
    2. in such concentration;
    3. which may be or tend to be injurious;
    4. to human beings, or other living creatures or plants or property or environment. Kerala High Court laid down in K. Ram Krishanan v. State of Kerala laid down that smoking at public places will be considered to be air pollutant.
  2. Air Pollution-"Air Pollution" means the presence in the atmosphere of any air pollutant-[Section 2 (4)].

    Air pollution has been, thus, defined in the perspective of the presence of polluting elements in the atmosphere. Hence the definitions of 'air pollutant and "air pollution" are complementary to each other.
  3. Approved appliance- "Approved appliance" means any equipment or gadget used for the burning of any combustible material or for generating or consuming any fume, gas or particular matter and approved by the State Board for the purposes of this Act-[Section 2 (C)].
  4. Approved fuel- "Approved fuel" means any fuel approved by the State Board for the purposes of this Act.
  5. Automobile -"Automobile" means any vehicle powered either by internal combustion engine or by any method of generating power to drive each vehicle by burning fuel. (f) Board-Board' means the Central Board or a State Board.
  6. Central Board- "Central Board" means the Central Pollution Control Board constituted under Section 3 of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
  7. Chimney-"Chimney" includes any structure with an opening of outlet from or through which any air pollutant may be emitted.
  8. Control equipment- "Control equipment" means any apparatus, device, equipment or system to control the quality and manner of emission of any air pollution and includes any device used for securing the efficient operation of any industrial plant.
  9. Emission-"Emission" means any solid or liquid or gaseous substance coming out of any chimney, duct or flue or any other outlet. Industrial plant- "Industrial plant" means any plant used for any industrial or trade purposes and emitting any pollutant into the atmosphere.
  10. Member-"Member" means a member of the Central Board or a State Board as the case may be and includes the chairman thereof.
  11. Occupier- "Occupier" in relation to any factory or premises means the person who has control over the affairs of the factory or the premises, and includes in relation to any substance, the person in possession of the substance.
  12. Prescribed-"Prescribed" means prescribed by rules made under this Act by the Central Government or, as the case may be, the State Government. (o) State Board- "State Board" means in relation to a State in which the Water (Prevention and Control of pollution) Act, 1974 is in force and the State Government has constituted for that State a State Pollution Control Board under Section 4 of that Act, the said State Board, and (ii) in relation to any other State, the State Board for the Prevention and Control of Air Pollution constituted by the State Government under Section 5 of this Act.

Case Laws:
  1. K. Ramakrishnan And Anr. vs State Of Kerala And Ors AIR 1999 Ker 385
    This case highlighted the danger of smoking. The Petitioner sought orders to prevent the smoking of tobacco in any form in public places and to order the state to take appropriate measures to prosecute and punish all persons guilty of smoking in public places and to treat such smoking as a nuisance under the Penal Code.

    The court held that smoking in public places violated the atmosphere and was noxious to the health of persons present. It decided that public smoking of tobacco in any form whether in the form of cigarettes, cigars, beedies or otherwise was illegal, unconstitutional and violated Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

    Moreover, tobacco smoking in public places fell within the mischief of the penal provisions relating to "public nuisance" as contained in the Indian Penal Code and also the definition of air pollution as contained in the statutes dealing with the protection and preservation of the environment, in particular the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
  2. Subhash Kumar v. State of Bihar 1991 AIR 420, 1991 SCR (1) 5
    The petitioner filed a public interest litigation claim against two iron and steel companies, because they allegedly created health risks to the public by dumping waste from their factories into the nearby Bokaro river. The petitioner also claimed that the State Pollution Control Board had failed to take appropriate measures for preventing this pollution.

    As part of his claim, the asked the Curt to take legal action against the company based on the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1974 and furthermore requested permission to collect waste in the form of sludge and slurry by himself as interim relief.

    The State Pollution and Control Board claimed that it had sufficiently monitored the quality of effluent waste entering the river and the respondent companies claimed that they had adhered to the Board's instructions concerning the prevention of pollution. The Court found that the Board had indeed taken effective steps to prevent the waste discharge from the factories into the river and thus dismissed the petition.

    Furthermore, it was held that the petition did not qualify as a public interest litigation, because it was filed by the petitioner's own interest in obtaining larger quantities of waste in the form of slurry from one of the respondent companies from which he started to purchase slurry several years prior to the petition.

  1. Research about the causes and impact of Air Pollution. Spread awareness to stop air pollution.
  2. The most basic solution for air pollution is to move away from fossil fuels, replacing them with alternative energies like solar, wind and geothermal. Producing clean energy is crucial.
  3. Equally important is to reduce our consumption of energy by adopting responsible habits and using more efficient devices.
  4. To establish central and State Boards and empower them to monitor air quality and control pollution.

In a nutshell, every kind of pollution leaves a huge negative impact on our environment, human lives, animals etc. We, as responsible citizens, must take steps towards a better tomorrow. We must join hands to take various initiatives and fight against this problem

It is observed that the legislation to deal with air pollution is pretty strict and well formulated. It encompasses the scientific aspects of managing air pollution with the actions of State and Central bodies. The Pollution Control Boards are bestowed with a wide range of powers and functions to check emission limits and take appropriate action. However, enforcement still remains lax.

Urban air pollution has long been a serious problem in the India , reflecting both the importance of highly polluting industries for the national economy and political factors such as the low priority of environmental issues and lack of public participation.

India itself had issues regarding air pollution due to a wide variety of factors such as stubble burning, improper industrial practices, environmental factors etc. To combat these factors a special law was enacted under the Constitution of India, which was the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1981.

  1. The Air (Prevention And Control Of Pollution) Act, 1981
  2. Enviromnetal law by Dr. J.J.R. Upadhyaya - Fifth Edition
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