Important Acts and Rules for the Conservation of Environment
Life on Earth has become highly challenging. Humanity has made the life of all the creatures in the Universe very dangerous. We have destroyed water bodies and forest reservoirs. Many species have become extinct.
There have been protests and agitations against such greedy and violent acts of man-kind. This has forced the governments and organisations across the globe to pass laws against indiscriminate killing of animals and birds.
All of us are familiar with The National Board for Wildlife, The National Tiger Conservation Authority. Wildlife Protection Act 1972, The Environment Protection Act, 1986, The Water Prevention and Control of Pollution Act, 1974, The Washington Convention, etc,.
Let us also learn about sanctuary– a place of refuge where injured, abandoned, and abused wildlife is allowed to live in peace in their natural environment without any human intervention.
Air act, Water act, Wildlife conservation, Sanctuaries, National Parks, Environmental Protection Act
You must be aware of various rules and regulations existing in India. But have you ever thought of any law related to environmental issues?
4.6.1 Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
This Act provides for the protection of the country’s wild animals, birds, and plant species, in order to ensure environmental and ecological security. Among other things, the Act lays down restrictions on hunting many animal species. The Act was last amended in the year 2006.
Constitutional Provisions for the Wildlife Act Article 48A of the Constitution of India directs the States to protect and improve the environment and safeguard wildlife and forests. This article was added to the Constitution by the 42nd Amendment in 1976.
Article 51A imposes certain fundamental duties on the people of India. One of them is to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures.
4.6.2 History of wildlife protection legislation in India
The first such law was passed by the British Indian Government in 1887 called the Wild Birds Protection Act, 1887. The law sought to prohibit the possession and sale of specified wild birds that were either killed or captured during a breeding session.
A second law was enacted in 1912 called the Wild Birds and Animals Protection Act. This was amended in 1935 when the Wild Birds and Animals Protection (Amendment) Act 1935 was passed.
During the British Raj, wildlife protection was not accorded a priority. It was only in 1960 that the issue of protection of wildlife and the prevention of certain species from becoming extinct came into the force.
4.6.3 Salient Features of Wildlife Protection Act
The following Salient Features of Wildlife Protection Act
- This Act provides for the protection of a listed species of animals, birds, and plants, and also for the establishment of a network of ecologically-important protected areas in the country.
- The Act provides for the formation of wildlife advisory boards, wildlife wardens, specifies their powers and duties, etc.
- It helped India become a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
- CITES is a multilateral treaty with the objective of protecting endangered animals and plants.
- It is also known as the Washing-ton Convention and was adopted as a result of a meeting of IUCN members.
- For the first time, a comprehensive list of the endangered wild-life of the country was prepared.
- The Act prohibited the hunting of endangered species.
- Scheduled animals are prohibited from being traded as per the Act’s provisions.
- The Act provides for licenses for the sale, transfer, and possession of some wildlife species.
- It provides for the establishment of wildlife sanctuaries, national parks etc.
- Its provisions paved the way for the formation of the Central Zoo Authority. This is the central body responsible for the oversight of zoos in India. It was established in 1992.
- The Act created six schedules which gave varying degrees of protection to classes of flora and fauna.
- Schedule I and Schedule II (Part
II) get absolute protection, and offences under these schedules attract the maximum penalties.
- The schedules also include species that may be hunted.
The National Board for Wildlife was constituted as a statutory organization under the provisions of this Act.
- This is an advisory board that offers advice to the central government on issues of wildlife conservation in India.
- It is also the apex body to review and approve all matters related to wildlife, projects of national parks, sanctuaries, etc.
- The chief function of the Board is to promote the conservation and development of wildlife and forests.
It is chaired by the Prime Minister.
The Act also provided for the establishment of the National Tiger Conservation Authority.
- It is a statutory body of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change with an over-all supervisory and coordination part, performing capacities as given in the Act.
- Its mandate is to strengthen tiger conservation in India.
- It gives statutory authority to Project Tiger which was launched in 1973 and has put the endangered tiger on a guaranteed path of revival by protecting it from extinction.
4.6.4 Protected Areas under the Wildlife Protection Act
There are five types of protected areas as provided under the Act. They are described below.
1. Sanctuaries: “Sanctuary is a place of refuge where injured, abandoned, and abused wildlife is allowed to live in peace in their natural environment without any human intervention.” They are naturally-occurring areas where endangered species are protected from poaching, hunting, and predation.
- Here, animals are not bred for commercial exploitation. The species are protected from all sorts of disturbance.
- Animals are not allowed to be captured or killed inside the sanctuaries.
- A wildlife sanctuary is declared by the State government by a Notification. Boundaries can be altered by a Resolution of the State Legislature.
- Human activities such as timber harvesting, collecting minor for-est products, and private owner-ship rights are permitted as long as they do not interfere with the animals’ well-being. Limited human activity is permitted.
- They are open to the general pub-lic. But people are not allowed unescorted. There are restrictions as to who can enter and/or reside within the limits of the sanctuary. Only public servants (and his/her family), persons who own immovable property inside, etc. are allowed. People using the high-ways which pass through sanctuaries are also allowed inside.
- Boundaries of sanctuaries are not generally fixed and defined
- Biologists and researchers are permitted inside so that they can study the area and its inhabitants.
- The Chief Wildlife Warden (who is the authority to control, man-age and maintain all sanctuaries) may grant permission to persons for entry or residence in the sanctuary for the study of wildlife, scientific research, photography, the transaction of any lawful business with persons residing inside, and tourism.
- Sanctuaries can be upgraded to the status of a ‘National Park’.
2. National Parks: “National Parks are the areas that are set by the government to conserve the natural environment.”
- A national park has more restrictions as compared to a wildlife sanctuary.
- National parks can be declared by the State government by Notification. No alteration of the boundaries of a national park shall be made except on a resolution passed by the State Legislature.
- The main objective of a national park is to protect the natural environment of the area and biodiversity conservation.
- The landscape, fauna, and flora are present in their natural state in national parks.
- Their boundaries are fixed and defined.
- Here, no human activity is allowed.
- Grazing of livestock and private tenurial rights are not permitted here.
- Species mentioned in the Schedules of the Wildlife Act are not allowed to be hunted or captured.
- No person shall destroy, remove, or exploit any wildlife from a National Park or destroy or damage the habitat of any wild animal or deprive any wild animal of its habitat within a national park.
- They cannot be downgraded to the status of a ‘sanctuary’.
Examples: Bandipur National Park in Karnataka
3. Conservation Reserves: The State government may declare an area (particularly those adjacent to sanctuaries or parks) as conservation reserves after consulting with local communities.
4. Community Reserves: The State government may declare any private or community land as a community reserve after consultation with the local community or an individual who has volunteered to conserve the wildlife.
5. Tiger Reserves: These areas are reserved for the protection and conservation of tigers in India. They are declared on the recommendations of the National Tiger Conservation Authority.
The amended Wildlife Act does not allow any commercial exploitation of forest produce in both wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, and local communities are allowed to collect forest produce only for their bona fide requirements.
4.6.5 Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1981
The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1981, or the Air Act, in short, was a law passed by the Parliament of India to prevent and control the harmful effects of air pollution in India. This act is seen as the first concrete step taken by the government of India to combat air pollution.
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 preservation 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 considered necessary to implement the decisions aforesaid in so far as they relate to the preservation of the quality of air and control of air pollution.
Short title, extent and commencement
- This Act may be called the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
- It extends to the whole of India.
- It shall come into force on such a date as the Central Government may, by notification in the official Gazette, appoint.
The Act clearly states and explain each and every term very precisely: air pollutant, air pollution, approved appliances, approved fuel, automobile, central board, chimney, control equipment, emission, industrial plant, member, occupier, prescribed, state board.
Definitions under the Air Act
The following are the definitions under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act.
- f Section 2(a) defines ‘air pollutants’ as any solid liquid or gaseous substance which may cause harm to or damage the environment, humans, plants, animals or even damage property. A 1987 amendment to the act also added ‘noise’ in the list of harmful substances.
The air act defines ‘air pollution’ as the presence of any dangerous pollutant that makes the air unbreathable.
- Section 2 (g) of the Act also set up the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) whose powers extended to the whole of India. To carry out the directives of the CPCB the act also called for the setting up of the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) for the individual states of India
4.6.6 The Environment Protection Act, 1986
The Environment Protection Act, 1986 (the “Environment Act”) provides for the protection and improvement of the environment. The Environment Protection Act establish-es the framework for studying, planning and implementing long-term requirements of environmental safety and laying down a system of speedy and adequate response to situations threatening the environment. It is an umbrella legislation designed to provide a framework for the coordination of central and state authorities established under the Water Act, 1974 and the Air Act.
Under the Environment Act, the Central Government is empowered to take measures necessary to protect and improve the quality of environment by setting standards for emissions and discharges of pollution in the atmosphere by any person carrying on an industry or activity; regulating the location of industries; management of hazardous wastes, and protection of public health and welfare. From time to time, the Central Government issues notifications under the Environment Act for the protection of ecologically-sensitive areas or issues guidelines for matters under the Environment Act.
In case of any non-compliance or contravention of the Environment Act, or of the rules or directions under the said Act, the violator will be punishable with imprisonment up to five years or with fine up to Rs 1,00,000, or with both. In case of continuation of such violation, an additional fine of up to Rs 5,000 for every day during which such failure or contravention continues after the conviction for the first such failure or contravention, will be levied. If the violation continues beyond a period of one year after the date of conviction, the offender shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years.
Short Title, Extent and Commencement of the Act
- This Act may be called the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
- It extends to the whole of India.
- It shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint and different dates may be appointed for different provisions of this Act and for different areas
The Act clearly states and explain each and every term very precisely like environment, environmental pollutants, environmental pollution, handling, hazardous substance, occupier, prescribed.
General Powers of the Central Government
Power of Central Government to take measures to protect and improve environment.
- Subject to the provisions of this Act, the Central Government shall have the power to take all such measures, as it deems necessary or expedient for the purpose of protecting and improving the quality of the environment.
- Planning and execution of a nationwide programme for the prevention, control and abatement of environmental pollution;
- Laying down standards for the quality of environment in its various aspects;
- Laying down standards for emission or dis-charge of environmental pollutants from various sources.
- Restriction of areas in which any industries, operations or processes or class of industries, operations or processes shall not be carried out or shall be carried out subject to certain safeguards;
- Laying down procedures and safeguards for the handling of hazardous substances;
- Examination of such manufacturing processes, materials and substances as are likely to cause environmental pollution;
- Carrying out and sponsoring investigations and research relating to problems of environmental pollution;
- Inspection of any premises, plant, equipment, machinery, manufacturing or other processes, materials or substances and giving, by order, of such directions touch authorities, officers or persons as if may consider necessary to take steps for the prevention, control and abatement of environmental pollution;
- Preparation of manuals, codes or guides relating to the prevention, control and abatement of environmental pollution.
4.6.7 Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
The Water Prevention and Control of Pollution Act, 1974 (the “Water Act”) has been en-acted to provide for the prevention and control of water pollution and to maintain or restore wholesomeness of water in the country. It further provides for the establishment of Boards for the prevention and control of water pollution with a view to carry out the aforesaid purposes. The Water Act prohibits the dis-charge of pollutants into water bodies beyond a given standard, and lays down penalties for non-compliance. At the Centre, the Water Act has set up the CPCB which lays down standards for the prevention and control of water pollution. At the State level, SPCBs function under the direction of the CPCB and the State Government.
Further, the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act was enacted in 1977 to provide for the levy and collection of a cess on water consumed by persons operating and carrying on certain types of industrial activities. This cess is collected with a view to augment the resources of the Central Board and the State Boards for the prevention and control of water pollution constituted under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974. The Act was last amended in 2003.
Short title, application and commencement
1. This Act may be called the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
2. It applies in the first instance to the whole of the States of Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and. Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tripura and West Bengal and the Union Territories; and it shall apply to such other State which adopts this Act by resolution passed in that behalf under clause (1) of the article 252 of the Constitution.
Objective type questions
Answer to Objective type questions