Environment Protection from Water Pollution

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Environment Protection
Water bodies flow

The Central Government has notified The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Amendment Act, 2024 in order to amend the Act of 1974 which was clearly very old and redundant. The previous Act came into force few years after India got independence and it was the time when India was moving towards capital intensive industries. However, now the time is when India is moving towards becoming a developed economy so automatically, the need was felt to revolutionize the previous Act.

The key highlights of this amendment are as follows:

  • At first, this Act became applicable only in Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Union Territories of India. Other States are given an option to adopt it by passing resolution, however it is not mandatory on them.
  • A new proviso has been added under previous Section 25(1) through which Central Government has been given power that in consultation with Central Board, CG can exempt certain categories of industrial plants from the provisions of sub-section 25(1).
  • A new section 27A is inserted which has given powers to Central Government to issue guidelines on the matters relating to the grant, refusal or cancellation of consent by any State Board for establishment of any industry, operation or process, or treatment and disposal system.
  • Section 41 is completely substituted with new section. Herein, penalties have been increased. Of course, the money value was different in the year 1974 hence the penalties were low but now they have increased. For example, for non-compliance of directions under Section 20(2) or 20(3), penalty from Rs. 10,000/- to Rs. 15,00,000/- can be imposed. The provision of additional penalty of Rs. 10,000/- per day is also inserted in some cases.  So, for contravention of Section 24 or 25 or 26, penalties have increased.
  • New Section 45A is inserted in place of previous Section 45. Here, along with penalty provisions, Central Government is obligated to appoint an adjudicating officer not below the rank of Joint Secretary to GOI or Secretary to State Government to hold inquiry and impose penalties.
  • A pertinent point to note here is that these penalties are in addition to fines and penalties that may be imposed under National Green Tribunal Act, 2010. Also, any aggrieved person has the right to appeal to National Green Tribunal. Detailed procedure for deposition of penalty etc. in NGT is also prescribed.
  • The penalty imposed by adjudicating officer shall be transferred to Environmental Protection Fund established under section 16 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
  • Another important point to note here is that if contravention is committed by any department of Central Government or State Government, then Head of the Department shall be liable to pay penalty. However, if he/she proves that the contravention was committed without his knowledge or instructions, then he/she will not be liable.

To conclude, it can be said that in order to fully understand the amendment, one must first analyze the original act in letter and spirit. A comparison should be done between the then conditions of India versus now conditions. Then only the true meaning of this amendment can be interpreted.

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