Like every other developing countries, India has environmental problems which are not confined to side effects of industrialization but reflects the inadequacy of resources to provide the infrastructural facilities to prevent industrial pollution. Although various legislation dealt with several environment matters, their focus was either on specific types of pollution or on specific categories of hazardous substances, some major environmental hazardous were not covered by these enactments. Therefore the Government in 1986 enacted the Environment Protection Act. This Act provides protection and improvement of environment and the prevention of hazardous to human beings, other living creatures, plants and property. The Act came into force in 19.11.1986 and extended to the whole of India.
The Central Govt. has been granted general powers under sec. 3 to take all necessary measures to protect and improve the quality of the environment and for preventing, controlling and abating environmental pollution. The Central Govt. appoints the officers and entrust them with certain powers and functions. They have the power to:
- Perform any of the functions entrusted to him
- Determine whether and if so in what manner, any such functions are to be performed
- Determine whether any of the provisions of the Act or rules make the there under or any notice, order, direction etc. Issued under the Act
- Examine or testing any equipment, industrial plant, record, register document etc. Or for conducting a search of any building in which an offence under this act has been committed or apprehended to be committed.
The Act empowers the Central Govt. to establish by the notification of the official Gazette, one or more environmental laboratories or recognise one or more laboratories or institutions as environmental laboratories to carry out certain functions under the act.
Some other Acts also make provisions for environmental protection. They are:
- Factories Act, 1948: emission of air pollutants, improper handling of hazardous waste.
- Motor Vehicles Act, 1988: excessive emission of smoke or noise beyond prescribed limits.
- Indian Ports Act, 2010: throwing ballast or rubbish in water.
- Merchant Shipping Act, 1958: to check water pollution by oil.
- Indian Penal Code, 1860: public nuisance, mischief, rash and negligent acts.
- Atomic Energy Act, 1962: regulation of nuclear energy and radioactive substance by atomic energy regulatory board.
- Indian Fisheries Act, 1897: putting any poison, lime or noxious materials in any water.
Beside these, other legislations like Mines Act, Dock Workers Act, Water Pollution Act, Air Pollution Act, Explosives Act etc. Do make provisions in respect of safety and control of pollution.
The prosecutor for most stringent provisions in pollution control law is the supreme court judgement in Shriram Foods and Fertilizers Industries and another v. Union of India and others[(1986) 1 Comp. Lj 25 (sc)]. The SC considered a writ petition seeking re commencement of manufacturing operations in the plant especially after the manufacturing operations were ordered to be closed down because of a major leakage of oleum gas. The SC allowed the recommencement of manufacturing operations subject to the condition that the chairman and managing directors of the company and also the officers who were in actual management of the plant concerned gave an undertaking that in case there was any escape of chlorine gas resulting in death or injury to the people living in the vicinity as well as to any workman, they shall be personally liable for payment of compensation for such death or injury.
When an offence has been committed by a company, and it proved that the offence was committed with the consent or connivance of any director, manager, secretary or other officer of the company, such director, manager, secretary or other officer shall also be deemed to be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly. In the case of an offence committed by any govt. dept., the Head of the Dept. shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against unless he proves that the offence was committed without his knowledge or that he exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of such offence.
As per rule 14 of this Act, every person carrying on an industry, operation or process if covered under:
- Sec 25 of Water ( Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act
- Sec 2 of Air (prevention and Control of Pollution) Act
- Authorization under Hazardous Waste (Managment and Handling) Rules, 1989
Is required to submit audit report. It is submitted for the financial year ending on 31st march every year on or before 15th may to State Board.
Liability for pollution, whether the pollution is caused by individual or by a corporation, may be civil or criminal. Civil liability is known as tortuous liability. Out of various species of tort, negligence is the most directly related tort in the field of pollution.
M.C. Mehta and another v. Union of India and others [(1987)1 Comp LJ 99(SC)]
Ruled that an application for compensation in a pollution case can be maintained under Article 32 of the Constitution, for, such application is for the protection of the fundamental rights of the people and the Court has all incidental and ancillary powers including the powers to forge new remedies and fashion new strategies designed to enforce fundamental rights. On the question of liability of an enterprise engaged in hazardous activities, the Supreme Court laid down for the first time a far reaching ruling, that an enterprise which is engaged in hazardous or inherently dangerous activity and an industry which poses a potential threats to the health and safety of the person working in the factory and of those residing in the surrounding area owes an absolute and non- delegatable duty to the community to ensure that no harm results to any one on account of an hazardous or inherently dangerous nature of the activity which it has under taken. The court further reiterated that the rule of Rylands v. Fletcher of strict liability would apply in India but without any exceptions whatsoever recognised in England. The court also ruled that the measure of compensation must be correlated to the magnitude and capacity of the enterprise because such compensation must have a deterrent effect.
After reading the description we come to the conclusion that protection of environment is quit serious issue and for its protection so many efforts are being made at national and international level. Because of the greenhouse effect, the temperature on the earth increasing day by day and if it goes on increasing with this speed then the snow on the Arctic will melt and as a result of which the sea level will rise considerably. As a result of this the cities situated on the sea cost will drown in water. Apart of this millions of people will become the victim of starvation, floods, drought etc. so the issue of the environment protection needs much more attention.