Environmental laws in INDIA

The existence of environmental protection laws in India can be traced from way back from the 1850s. The 1st being the 1853’s Shore Nuisance (Bombay & Kolaba) Act that was enforced to control water pollution & permit land revenue collectors to instruct ejection of waste from the harbors. It was followed by the 1857’s implementation of penalizing companies such as Oriental Gas Company that begrimed water bodies. Chapter XIV of Indian Penal Code 1860 has laid provisions & punishments for rash and negligent conduct that causes pollution, affects environment or public health. It imposes fine & imprisonment to those who foul water bodies, pollute the atmosphere with poisonous gases or cause other sorts of public nuisances.


Many States took priority in water protection from pollution during the 1950s & 1960s. It was during this time that the Constitution authorized stated to impose rules & thus The Orissa River Pollution Act of 1953, The Punjab State Tube well Act of 1954, West Bengal Notification No. 7 Regulation – Control of Water Pollution Act of 1957, Jammu and Kashmir State Canal and Drainage Act of 1963 and The Maharashtra Water Pollution Prevention Act of 1969 were enforced. In 1972 the Tiwari committee recommended the set-up of NCEP (National Committee on Environmental Planning) which came into being from April 1981. The department of environment was established during the 1980s which was criticised thus the then Prime Minister Mr. Rajiv Gandhi established the Ministry of Environment and Forest. Soon The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act,1981, was implemented followed by The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, The Biological Diversity Act, 2002 & The National Environment Policy of 2006. The Supreme Court of India ruled that Article 21 right to life includes the right to a clean and sustainable, pollution free air & environment where water is drinkable.
India along with at least other 155 countries has recognized a healthy environment as a Constitutional right. The ambit of Article 21 i.e. right to life and personal liberty under the Indian Constitution is wide and it also includes a healthy environment as a fundamental right which cannot be encroached by anyone. Besides that, under chapter IV of the constitution i.e. DPSPs, the constitution imposes a duty on the state (Art. 49A) as well as on the citizens (Art. 51A) to maintain the standards of the environment.
The apex court has recognized the needs for controlling pollution and mandating industries to have inspections. Train inspectors and workers to monitor and prevent pollution in the famous case of Shriram Industries case also known as Oleum Gas leak case. Famous social activist M.C Mehta also known as the green advocate filed a petition against Shriram Industries for engaging and affecting the areas of Kirti Nagar with hazardous elements. The leakage of gaseous oleum on 6th December 1985 caused health issues to several people & death of an advocate. This happened right one year post the Bhopal gas tragedy the petitioner filed PILs under Art.21 & 32 of our Constitution. Chief Justice Bhagwati who ruled this case that even though the industry produced chlorine to maintain drinkable water in Delhi it has to minimize the usage of hazardous elements for the safety of the community. But since the industry couldn’t be shut completely as it would halt development thus the Supreme Court recommended reforms in the national policies concerning the industry. Norms such as constitution of Worker’s Safety Committee, inspection to check in the industry are following standards set under the Water Act and Air Act. The industry has to publish details of effects of chlorine treatment & train their workers to prepare and prevent any incident of leakage. All the workers have to use safety tools. The apex court also ordered Shriram industries to deposit INR 20 lakhs as bank guarantee & 15 lakhs to be paid as compensation to the victims.

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

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We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge

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