After Bhopal disaster in 1984 claiming 3000 lives or so, the Central Government enacted the Environmental (Protection) Act in May-1986. It came into force in whole of India on 19 th November-1986. It is a “general” legislation on environmental protection, enabling the coordination of the activities of the various regulatory bodies, and the creation of an authority with adequate powers to protect and improve the environment, and give “deterrent punishment” to those endangering it. It is one of the most stringent Acts that Government has passed to protect the environment and prevention of hazards to human beings, living creatures, plant and properties. This Act is an umbrella legislation providing a single focus in the country for the protection of environment and seeks to plug the loopholes of earlier legislation relating to environment. Several sets of Rules relating to various aspects of management of hazardous chemicals, wastes, micro-organisms etc. have been notified under this Act.
Some important points of this Act are:
-The Central Government may also put restrictions on an area in which any industry, operation or process or class of industries or operations shall not be carried out. If they are to be carried out, they may be permitted with certain safeguards.
-Emissions and effluent standard in respect of 61 categories of industries have been evolved and notified so far.
-The standards in respect of pollutants are to be achieved within a period of one year from the date of their notification, especially by those industries identified as highly polluting
-However, if a particular SPCB may so desire, it may reduce the time limit and also specify more stringent standards in respect of a specified category of industries within their jurisdiction. The SPCB however cannot relax either the time limit or the standards.
-Those industries that require consent under the Water Act, Air Act or both, or authorization under the Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1989, are required to submit an environmental audit report to the concerned SPCB/PCC on or before 30th September every year.