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Environmental Protection Law And Policy In India

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed.-Mahatma Gandhi

Environmental pollution is not a new problem, not new in its origin. It is as old as the inception of mankind on the planet. However, different dimensions of environment protection have taken a new turn in the present day. Mankind have so critically hampered the environment on a global scale which include over consumption, overpopulation, industrialization, urbanization, over exploitation of resources, depletion of traditional resources of energy, deforestation, to name but a few are some factors of deterioration of environment.

Though man has achieved great progress in Science and technology, thus making man more power but it resulted in the naively use of the power, encroaching endlessly on nature.

In India it is a basic right to live a healthy life in the ambit of Article 21 but the acute poverty in the country requires acceleration in the development process which can only be done at the cost of environmental exploitation. Thus endangering not only present generation but also future generation.

The need of protection and conservation of environment and sustainable use of resources is clearly reflected in the Indian constitutional framework also in the international commitments of India (The Stockholm Declaration on Human Environment, Marine Environment Protection Committee, and many more). It is clearly mention in the constitution under Part IVA (Art 51A-Fundamental Duties) cast a duty on every citizen of India to protect and improve natural environment and also in part IV (Art 48A-Directive Principles of State Policies) of constitution states that the state shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safe guard the forest and wildlife of the country.

India has taken many measures in the past to curb environmental pollution. Thus has formulate the different laws over the period of time to govern the environment.

Introduced Indian Wildlife Protection Act (1972) to protect biodiversity. It was amended multiple times. In 1988, the national forest policy had conservation as its fundamental principle.

Other than this the government passed the environment protection act (1986) and foreign trade act for sustainable biodiversity.

Causes of environmental pollution
Environmental pollution is:
the contamination of the physical and biological components of the earth atmosphere system to such an extent that normal environmental processes are adversely affected

Pollution is the additional of substance or form of energy (e.g. sound, heat) to the environment at a rate faster than the environment can accommodate it by dispersion, breakdown, recycling, or storage in some harmless form.[1]

The causes of environmental pollution is not just limited to fossils fuels or carbon emission. There many other type of pollution like chemical pollution into bodies of water and soil through improper disposal practices.
  1. Air Pollution
    Air pollution consists two pollutants, primary and secondary
    Primary pollutants are emitted directly from their source, while secondary pollutants are formed when primary pollutants react in the atmosphere.
    The burning of fossil fuels for transportation and electricity produces both primary and secondary pollutants and is one of the biggest sources of air pollution.[2]
  2. Water Pollution
    Water pollution is caused by dumping wastewater, harmful chemical substance in the water bodies. The nutrients in this substances advances algae and weed growth and also deplete oxygen level of water. Thus making water undrinkable and inhabitable for aquatic organisms.

    One of the main source of water pollution is industrial waste dumping in the water, by creating primary and secondary pollutants which includes sulphur, lead, mercury spills
  3. Land & Soil Pollution
    Land and soil pollution is caused due to improper use of land resources, destruction of land as a result of human activities. This occurs when human beings dismantle land by application of heavy chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides to the soil, improper disposal of waste.

    Over farming and over grazing is also one of the main reason for soil degradation cause due to this soil loses its nutrients value and structure.
    Rain and flooding bring pollutants from already polluted land to unpolluted land. Thus reducing land quality.[3]
  4. Noise & Light Pollution
    Noise is an environment pollutant caused by household activities, social occasions, transportation, industrial activities.
    Light is occurred by the prolonged and excessive use of artificial lights at night can cause health problems in human beings and thus disturb natural cycles.[4]

  1. Effects of environment pollution
    Human activities contaminated environment around the world-from pole to pole, from the lofty mountains to deep oceans, toxic chemicals can be found in lush forest and the blood of arctic animals, litter is floating everywhere, it floats miles away from the land beneath the surface of oceans. Mankind left nothing untouched.[5]
  2. Effects of environmental pollution: Bhopal Gas Tragedy
    There is absolutely no doubt about that pollution has become serious environment issues in the past decade humans have contaminated our whole planet so badly that environmental pollution affects not only peoples, vegetation and wildlife but also broader environment a such as mountains, rocks, lakes, rivers and so on . Perhaps the best by show the effects of all type of pollution are to look into a well known case study. In respect to above context we believe that the Bhopal pollution case of (1984) is an appropriate example for the study.
  3. What exactly happened in Bhopal gas tragedy case 1984?
    On the night of December 2 1984, a lethal dosage of the poisonous methylisocyanate gas leaked from the tank of pesticides of a plant in Bhopal owned by the American Company Union Carbide. The gases swirled across the ground into nearby kacchi bustees (slums), killing Bhopal's poorest inhabitants in their sleep, the gas leak causes burning the eyes and lungs of survivors, this gas leak from the planet spread in the populated area of Bhopal killing at least 2000 people instantly and causing an estimated 15000 to 20000 deaths subsequently[6], Estimates of the number of people killed on the first night range from an official figure of 3,000 to as many as 7,000 or 8,000 (based on the number of kafaans, or shrouds, ordered by the religious organizations for wrapping the dead). [7]

  1. Environment protection: The laws
    Primarily the government has passed the various legislations to curb the damages caused to the environment. In the constitution itself it is clearly mentioned that it the duty of the state to protect the environment and to shield the forest and wildlife of the country. It obtrudes a duty on every citizen of India to safeguard their environment, �to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife�. Reference of environment protection has also been in the directive principles of state policy, Article-49A (DPSP) The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country.[8] And also stated in fundamental rights.

    Indian government became more cautious towards environment after Stockholm Declaration 1972. Thus they established the department of environment in 1980 which later become later became the Ministry of Environment and Forests in 1985.

    After Bhopal gas tragedy, environment protection act 1986 introduced and it is considered as an umbrella legislation as it fills up many gaps in the existing environmental laws in India. Thereafter a large no of laws enforced as the problems began arising for example, handling and management of Hazardeous Waste Rules in 1989.
  2. Important Climate Change Laws in India
    1. The environment protection act 1986- it is one of most important legislation with respect to curb climate change. The motive of this act was to implement the decisions of UN conference on human environment, they agreed on improvement of human environment and prevention of humans, plants, property and other living creatures from hazardous environment.[9]
    2. The air prevention and control of pollution act 1981- it is established with the view to control and prevent air pollution in India and it also state to regulate the standards for emission of air pollutants in India. No industries can operate without meeting the requirements established by the state (mentioned in the act).[10]
    3. The national green tribunal act 2010- is an act of the parliament. This act established tribunals for the fast and effective disposals of cases that are related to the protection of environment.[11]
    4. The forest conservation act 1980- it is sanctioned for the conservation of forests. After the enactment of this act all forests property reserved under government of India. This act also gives power to state to take compensatory measures when any reserved forest is directed for non-forest grounds.
    5. The water prevention and control of pollution act 1977- this act was enacted to prevent water pollution from industrial, agriculture and household waste. The act also controls the cess paid on the consumption of water.
    6. The biodiversity act 2002- this act was decreed for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in the country and provides technique for equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of traditional biological resources and knowledge. The Act was enacted to meet the obligations under Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), to which India is a party.[12]
    7. The wildlife protection act 2002- It was Introduced to protect wildlife within geographical territory of India.
Secondly, to established a solid network of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.

  1. Constitutional elucidation on environment
    The 42nd amendment to the constitution of India put in Article 48A and 51(g) which under DPSP and fundamental duties.

    In case Sachidananda pandey V. State of West Bengal AIR 1987 SC 1109, Supreme Court stated that the courts are bound to bear in mind the above said articles whenever any case related to environmental problems comes up in court.[13]

    Article 48A states that the state shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safe guard forest and wildlife of the country.
    Article 51A(g) this article imposes the duty on every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment of the country and grant the right to come before the court for the redressal.

    1. Public Liability and Public Nuisance
      M. C Mehta and anr. etc v Union of India: This case is also known as oleum gas leak case. It was a landmark in which the principle of absolute liability was established by the Supreme Court of India. The court clutched that the permission for carrying out any hazardous industry close to human dwellings could not be given and the industry has to relocate.
      Due to this incident the parliament to add the new chapter to the factory act 1948. The public liability act was also passed. The policy for abetment of pollution control was also set up.


In India, the concern for environment protection has raised impressively in the last past decade. Many measures has been taken by the Indian government to protect the environment and maintain an ecological balance in the society. Many Laws has been developed and evolved whereby the quality of life of the individual has been enhanced. It is a basic human right to live in a pollution free environment and live with nobility.

Although the government has taken many measures to curb environmental pollution, the need of conservation of environment is clearly reflected in the Indian constitutional framework but still there is a big need for improvement in the policies making and executional process. It is very much essential to generate a sense of civil consciousness. Strict enforcement of laws also is needed.

It is high time that general public, Public entities private enterprises, state government, central government should comprehend the damage that they done and find a better way of maintaining the balance between the environment and society.

  1. Retrieved from
  2. Retrieved from
  3. Referred from
  4. Referred from
  5. Referred from WWF,,lung%20cancer%20and%20other%20diseases
  6. Referred from,
  7. Elliott, J. (March 25, 2002). Bhopal Refuses to Flip the Page: After More Than 17 Years, Thousands of Indians Still Suffer from the Lethal Gases That Leaked from a US Chemical Plant
  8. Referred from Indian bar association,
  9. EVA 1986 from wiki,,_1986
  10. Indian legal solution,
  11. Indian legal solution,
  12. Biodiversity act 2002, wiki,,_2002
  13. Referred from
Written By: Madhuram Modani

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