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An Introduction to the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986

Against the backdrop of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held at Stockholm in June 1972, in which India was a participant, the Central Government enacted a legislation, ‘The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986’, with an objective for protection and improvement of the environment and for matters connected therewith.

As per this Act, the Central Government shall have the power to take all such measures for the purpose of protecting and improving the quality of the environment and to prevent environmental pollution. Further, the Central Government shall have the power to give directions in writing to any person or officer or any authority for any of the purposes of the Act, including the power to direct the closure, prohibition or regulation of any industry, operation or process.

No person carrying on an industry, operation or process shall discharge or emit any environmental pollutant in excess of standards prescribed by the Government. Further persons handling with hazardous substances shall comply with the procedural safeguards as may be prescribed by the authorities.

As per the Act where the discharge of any environmental pollutant in excess of prescribed standard occurs, or is apprehended to occur due to any accidental or other unforeseen act or event, the person responsible for such discharge shall be bound to prevent or mitigate the pollutant so caused as well as intimate the fact of such occurrence to the concerned authorities.

The Central Government or any other officer empowered by the Central Government shall have the powers to take the samples of air, water, soil or any other substances from any factory, premises, etc for the purpose of analysis. The said officer shall without delay send the container with the sample to the laboratory established or recognized by Central Government. The Central Government has established several environmental laboratories for the purposes of the Environment (Protection) Act.

For the purposes of protecting and improving the quality of the environment and preventing and abetting environmental pollution, the standards of emission or discharge of environmental pollutants from the industries, operations or processes are specified in Schedules 1 to 1V of the Environment (Protection) Rules.

The Central Government takes into consideration various factors while prohibiting or restricting the location of industries and carrying on of processes and operations in different areas. Every person carrying on an industry, operation or process requiring consent under the water (prevention and control of pollution) Act, 1974 or under The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 or both or authorization under the Hazardous Waters (Management and Handling) Rules, 1989 shall submit an environmental statement for the financial year ending on the 31st March in Form V to the concerned State Pollution Control Board on or before the  Thirteenth day of September every year, beginning 1993.

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