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Environmental Laws in IndiaOverview and Important Principles

K.V. Singh & Shephali M. Birdi Kochhar & Co. October 20, 2009 Environment Law Institute, Washington DC, USA Kochhar & Co.

Constitution of India and Environment

A fundamental right to life is guaranteed to all persons. No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law. (Article 21) The scope of Right to Life expanded by higher judiciary to include the right to clean and pollution free environment.

Constitution of India and Environment

Directive Principles of the State Policy State shall endeavor to protect and improve environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country. (Article 48A)

Fundamental Duties of Citizens To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures. (Article 51 A (g))

Legislative Powers

Enactment of Important Environmental Legislations

Environmental Laws in IndiaGeneral Principles

Precautionary Principle. Polluter Pays. Absolute Liability. Public Trust Doctrine. Sustainable Development. Decentralization.

Development of Environmental law in IndiaRole of Courts

Relaxation of the rules of locus standi. Interpretation Environment. Acceptance and development of environmental law principles. Establishment of statutory and administrative bodies / agencies for enforcement of laws.









Nodal Government Ministries

Important Environmental Legislations in India

Environment Protection 1. Environment Protection Act, 1986 2. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 3. Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981


1. The Indian Forest Act, 1927 2. Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980


1. Biological Diversity Act, 2002

Important Environmental Legislations in India

Coastal Ecology 1. Declaration of Coastal Stretches as Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 1991

Wildlife Public Liability Insurance Tribunals / Authorities

1. Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 1. Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991

1. The National Environment Tribunal Act, 1995 2. National Environment Appellate Authority Act, 1997


Environment Protection Act, 1986 (EPA)

Enacted pursuant to the UN Conference on the Human Environment held in 1972. An umbrella legislation for environment protection and improvement through regulation of developmental activities. Vests central Ministry, i.e., Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) with powers relating to formulation of nation-wide planning, policymaking and co-ordination of actions taken by State Governments.

MoEF Powers under EPA

EPA enables MoEF to: lay down standards for environmental quality; emissions or discharge of environmental pollutants from various sources. Devise procedures for handling hazardous substances. Formulate rules for locating industry. Mandates compulsory reporting of environment pollution by industry. Provide for recovery of costs of cleanup from the polluter.

Umbrella framework under EPA

Standards for discharge of environmental pollutants Land use regulation Environment Protection Rules, 1986

Declaration of ecologically fragile and historically significant areas as No-development zones, such as, Murud-Janjira, Raigadh District in Maharashtra, Taj Trepezium near Taj Mahal, etc. Hazardous Waste (Management, Handling Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2008 and

Waste Management

Bio-Medical Waste (Management & Handling) Rules, 1998 Municipal Solid Wastes (Management & Handling Rules)

Umbrella framework under EPA

Environment impact assessment (EIA) Regulation of developmental activities in coastal stretches Management of Chemicals Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006

Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 1991 (CRZ Notification)

Manufacture, Storage, and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989 Ozone Depleting Substances (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 The Chemical Accidents (Emergency Planning, Preparedness and Response) Rules, 1996 Rules for the Manufacture, Use, Import, Export and Storage of Hazardous micro-organisms Genetically engineered organisms or cells, 1989


Umbrella framework under EPA

Noise Pollution Noise Pollution (Regulation & Control) Rules, 2000


Batteries (Management and Handling) Rules, 2001 The Recycled Plastics Manufacture and Usage Rules, 1999

Eco-marks Scheme

Scheme on Labeling of Environment Friendly Products (ECOMARK), 1991 The criteria for labeling Cosmetics as Environment Friendly Products, 1992


Water Pollution
The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 & Rules: Prevention and control of water pollution. Establishment of boards / authorities at Central and State level, i.e., Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), and State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) / Pollution Control Committees (PCCs). Mandates prior approval of SPCB / PCC for operating establishing and expanding industrial activities leading to discharge of industrial effluents.


The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974

Empowers SPCB / PCC to enter into industrial plants, factories, etc., and inspect plant, records registers and documents.

Empowers SPCB / PCC to take samples of industrial effluents and analysis of same.

Provides for Criminal liabilities.


Air Pollution
Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981 Prevention, control and abetment of air pollution. Empowers CPCB/ SPCBs/ PCCs to take appropriate actions in this regard. Declaration of certain areas as air pollution control areas.


Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981

Prior approval of SPCB / PCC required for operating establishing, operating and expanding industrial activities in air pollution control areas leading to discharge of emissions and pollutants in the air. Provisions relating to entry and inspection. Powers to take samples of ambient air, stack emissions, etc. Criminal Liabilities.


Forest Laws
Indian Forest Act, 1927 Classification of forests into reserved, protected and village forests; Restricts, regulates and prohibit commercial and other activities in various forests classes. Reserved forests, being the most protected category; Forests management vested primarily with the Government.


Indian Forest Act, 1927

Government empowered to impose duty on timber and forests-produce; Regulation of transit of forest produce permit regime; Regulation of manufacture of articles based on forest produce; Criminal Liabilities.


Forest Conservation Act, 1980 (FCA)

Restriction on the de-reservation of forests or use of forests land for nonforests purposes; Cultivation of coffee, spices, rubber, palms, oil bearing plants, medicinal plants, considered, non-forests purposes; Prior approval of MoEF is required. The procedure for obtaining approval laid down under FCA; Supreme Court intervention under T.N. Godavarman vs. UoI. Role of Central Empowered Committee.

Biodiversity Laws
Biological Diversity Act, 2002 (BD Act) Enacted in pursuance of United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, 1992. Provides for conservation of biological diversity and sustainable use of its components. Mandates fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of biological resources and knowledge.

BD Act
Indias response to cases of bio-piracy. Restrictions on use of biological resources not only by foreign nationals and entities but also on Indian entities having any non Indian participation in their share capital or management. Restrictions on obtaining IPR for an invention based on research or information on a biological resource obtained from India. Prior approval of National Biodiversity Authority is required.


Doing Business in India- Implications of Environmental Laws (Setting up a Pharmaceuticals Manufacturing Facility)



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