Environment Protection Act
(Passed in March 1986 and came into force on 19 November
• The Constitution of India clearly states that it is the duty of the state to
‘protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and
wildlife of the country’. The department of Environment was established in
India in 1980. This later became the Ministry of Environment and Forests in
• The EPA(Environment Protection Act),1986 came into force soon after the
Bhopal gas tragedy and is considered an umbrella legislation as it fills many
gaps in the existing laws.
• The world community’s resolve to protect and enhance the environment
quality found expression in the decisions taken at the UNITED NATIONS
conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm in June ,1972.
To implement the decisions made at the U.N. conference on the Human Environment
held at Stockholm in June ,1972.
To co-ordinate activities of the various regulatory agencies under the existing laws
and creation of an authority or authorities for environment protection.
To provide for deterrent punishment to those who endanger human environment ,
safety and health.
To ensure sustainable development .
To enact general law on environment protection which could cover uncovered gaps in
the areas of major environmental hazards .
In short, the EPA ,1986 aims at protecting and improving the environment and
prevention of hazards to human beings , other living creatures , plants and property.
SCHEME OF THE ACT
The Environment protection act ,1986 has 26 sections and it has been
divided into four chapters relating to –
1. Preliminary ,
2. General Powers of the Central Government,
3. Prevention , Control, and Abatement of Environment Pollution ,
1. Short title, Extent and Commencement
Short title, Extent and Commencement
The Environment Protection Act, 1986 enacted under article 253 of the
Indian constitution. To protect and improve environmental quality , control
and reduce pollution from all sources.
(1) This act may be called the Environment (protection) Act ,1986.
(2) It extends to the whole of India.
(3) 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.
General Powers of the Central
• To make rules to regulate environmental pollution ; to notify standards and
maximum limits of pollutants of air, water, and soil for various areas and
purposes; Prohibition and restriction on the handling of hazardous substances, and
location of industries (Sections 3-8).
• Under Sec (3): It may constitute authority or authorities for the purpose of
exercising of performing such of the powers and functions;
• Under Sec (4): It may appoint a person for inspection;
• Under Sec (5): It may issue directions in writing to any officers or any authority to
• Under Sec (6): It empower the government to make rules to achieve the object of
• Under Sec (7): Persons carrying on industry ,operation etc. not to allow emission
or discharge of environmental pollutants in excess of the standards;
• Under Sec (8): Persons handling hazardous substances must comply with
Prevention, Control, and Abatement of
The Central Government has the power ta take all such measures as it deems necessary for the purpose of protecting and
improving the quality of environment and preventing, controlling and abating environment pollution. Such measures may
• Co-ordination of actions by the State Government officers and other authorities under this act or under any law.
• Planning and execution of nation-wide programmes for the prevention, control and abatement of environmental pollution.
• Laying down standards for the equality of environment in the various aspects.
• Laying down standards for the emission or discharge of environmental pollutants.
• Restriction of areas in which any industry, operation or process shall be carried out.
• Laying down procedures and safeguards for handling of hazardous substances.
• Carrying out and sponsoring investigations and research relating to problems of environmental pollution.
• Establishment and recognition of environmental laboratories.
• Such other matters as the Central Government may deem necessary of the purposes of securing effective implementation of this Act.
• Under section 3(3), the Central Government may constitute an “authority” or “authorities” to exercise powers and perform functions as
OFFENCES AND PENALTIES
Penalty for contravention of the provisions of the Act,
Rules, Orders and Directions
Offences by Companies and Government Departments
• Sec 15 of the EPA provides that any person who fails to comply or contravenes any of the provisions of the
Act, or the rules made or orders or directions issued under the act or rules, then for such failure or
contravention, he shall be punishable :-
a) With imprisonment for a term which may extend up-to 5 years,
b) With fine which may extend up-to one lakh rupees,
c) With both.
• In case the failure or contravention continues after the conviction for first failure or contravention an
additional fine which may extend to five thousand for everyday can be imposed for a period during which
failure or contravention continues.
• If the failure or contravention continues beyond a period of one year after conviction, the offender shall be
punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years.
• Sec 16 of EPA incorporates the principal of “vicarious liability” of the person incharge,
Director, Manager, Secretary or other officer, for the offence if committed by the
• When any offence is committed by the company then the company as well as the
person directly incharge of and responsible for the conduct of business of the company
shall be deemed to be liable to punishment.
• However, the person incharge of responsible for the conduct of the business of the
company is no held liable if he proves:
a) That the offence was committed without his knowledge,
b) That he exercised all due diligence/care to prevent the commission of such offence.
Who can make the Complaint ?
Complaint under this act can made by:
The Central Government or any other authority by that
Any person who has given notice of not less than 60 days of
the alleged offence and of his intention to make complaint to
the Central Government or the authorized officer.
BHOPAL GAS TRAGEDY
The Bhopal gas tragedy was a gas leak incident in india , considered one of the world’s worst industrial catastrophes.
It occurred on the night of 2nd December 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal,
A leak of methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas and other chemicals from the plant resulted in the exposure of hundreds of
thousands of people.
Factors leading to gas leak :
Storing MIC in large tanks and filling beyond recommended levels.
Poor maintenance ;
Safety systems being switched off to save money –including the MIC tank refrigeration system which
could have mitigated the disaster severity,
The dependence on manual operations;
Use of a more dangerous pesticide manufacturing method.
When the factory was closed in 1985-86 ,pipes ,drums and tanks
were sold. The MIC and the Sevin plants are still there , as are
storages of different residues. Isolation material is falling and
The area around the plant was used as a dumping area for
Tubewells in the vicinity of the UCC factory had to abandoned.
UCC’s laboratory tests in 1989 revealed that soil and water
samples collected from near the factory and inside the plant were
toxic to fish.
In order to provide safe drinking water to the population around
the UCC factory, there is a scheme for improvement of water
The awareness towards improving the quality of environment need to be
Management of environment. It refers to proper utilization & conservation
Environmental pollution is world wide phenomenon so we must have co-
ordinated structures at international level.
India is a soft state. We have sufficient laws but they lack implementation.