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Water (Prevention and control of Pollution Act, 1974

Q1.

How is Water Pollution defined under the Water Act 1974?

Q2.

What are the legislation that have been enacted for controlling/preventing water pollution?

Q3.

What are the objectives of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974?

Q4.

What are the functions of the Central Pollution Control Board under the Water Act 1974?

Q5.

What are the functions of the State Boards under the Water Act 1974?

Q6.

What is the importance of Section 24 of the Water Act 1974?

Q7.

Can the Municipal Corporation, Companies, Government departments also prosecuted under the Water Act?

Q8.

What emergency measures can the Central/State Pollution Boards take under the Water Act ?

Q9.

What are the different powers given to the Central/State boards under the Water Act?

Q10.

What restriction does the Water Act impose on private citizens with respect to courts taking cognizance of offences under the Water Act ?

 

 

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Q1.  How is Water Pollution defined under the Water Act 1974?

Answer :
"Pollution" means
contamination of water

alteration of the physical, chemical or biological properties of water

discharge of any sewage or trade effluent or any other liquid, gaseous or solid substance into water (whether directly indirectly)

Which may, or is likely to, create a nuisance or render such water harmful or injurious to public health or safety, or to domestic, commercial, industrial, agricultural or other legitimate uses or to the life and health of animals or plants or of aquatic organisms.


 

Q2.  What are the legislation that have been enacted for controlling/preventing water pollution?

Answer :

The Shore Nuisance (Bombay and Kolaba) Act, 1853

The Orient Gas Company Act, 1857

Indian Penal Code, 1860

The Serais Act, 1867

The North India Canal and Drainage Act, 1873

The Obstruction in Fairways Act, 1882

The Indian Easement Act, 1882

The Indian Fisheries Act, 1897

The Indian Ports Act, 1908

The Indian Steam Vessels Act, 1917

The Poison Act, 1919

The Indian Forest Act, 1927

The Damodar Valley Corporation (Prevention of Pollution of Water) Regulation Act, 1948.

The Factories Act, 1948

The Mines Act, 1952.

The Orissa River Pollution Act, 1953

The River Boards Act, 1956

The Merchant Shipping Act, 1958

The Maharashtra Prevention of Water Pollution Act, 1969

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

The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977.

 

Q3.  What are the objectives of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974?
Answer :
The objectives of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act are to provide for the Prevention and Control of Pollution and the maintenance or restoration of the wholesomeness of water for the establishment, with a view to carrying out the purposes aforesaid, of Boards for the prevention and control of water pollution, for conferring on and assigning to such Boards powers and functions relating thereto and for matters connected therewith.



 

Q4.  What are the functions of the Central (Pollution Control) Board under the Water Act 1974?
Answer :
Functions of Central Board :
  1. Subject to the provisions of this Act, the main function of the Central Board shall be to promote cleanliness of streams and wells in different areas of the States.
  2. In particular and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing function, the Central Board may perform all or any of the following functions, namely
  1. Advise the Central Government on any matter concerning the prevention and control of water pollution.
     
  2. Co-ordinate the activities of the State Boards and resolve disputes among them.
     
  3. Provide technical assistance and guidance to the State Boards, carry out and sponsor investigations and research relating to problems of water pollution and prevention, control or abatement of water pollution.
     
  4. Plan and organised the training of persons engaged or to be engaged in programmes for the prevention, control or abatement of water pollution on such terms and conditions as the Central Board may specify.
     
  5. Organise through mass media a comprehensive programme regarding the prevention and control of water pollution.
     
  6. [perform such of the functions of any State Board as may be specified in an order made under Sub-section (2) of Section 18]
     
  7. Collect, compile and publish technical and statistical data relating to water pollution and the measures devised for its effective prevention and control and prepare manuals, codes or guides relating to treatment and disposal of sewage and trade effluents and disseminate information connected therewith
     
  8. Lay down, modify or annul, in consultation with the State Government concerned, the standards for a stream or well
     
  9. [Provided that different standards may be laid down for the same stream or well or for different streams or wells, having regard to the quality of waterflow characteristics of the stream or well and the nature of the use of the water in such stream or well or streams or wells]
     
  10. Plan and cause to be executed a nation-wide programme for the prevention, control or abatement of water pollution.
     
  11. Perform such other functions as may be prescribed.
  1. The Board may establish or recognise a laboratory or laboratories to enable the Board to perform its functions under this section efficiently, including the analysis of samples of water from any stream or well or of samples of any sewage or trade effluents.

 

Q5.  What are the functions of the State Boards under the Water Act 1974?
Answer :
Functions of the State Boards:
  1. Subject to the provisions of this Act, the functions of a State Board shall be :
  • To plan a comprehensive programme for the prevention, control or abatement of pollution of streams and wells in the State and to secure the execution thereof
     
  • To advise the State Government on any matter concerning the prevention, control or abatement of water pollution.
     
  • To collect and disseminate information relating to water pollution and the prevention, control of abatement thereof
     
  • To encourage, conduct and participate in investigations and research relating to problems of water pollution and prevention, control or abatement of water pollution.
     
  • To collaborate with the Central Board in organising the training of persons engaged or to be engaged in programmes relating to prevention, control or abatement of water pollution and to organise mass education programmes relating thereto
     
  • To inspect sewage or trade effluents, works and plants for the treatment of sewage and trade effluents and to review plans, specifications or other data relating to plants setup for the treatment of water, works for the purification thereof and the system for the disposal of sewage or trade effluents or in connection with the grant of any consent as required by this Act.
     
  • To lay down, modify or annul effluent standards for the sewage and trade effluents and for the quality or receiving waters (not being water in an inter-State stream) resulting from the discharge of effluents and to classify waters of the State.
     
  • To evolve economical and reliable methods of treatment of sewage and trade effluents, having regard to the peculiar conditions of soils, climate and water resources of different regions and more especially the prevailing flow characteristics of water in streams and wells which render it impossible to attain even the minimum degree of dilution.
     
  • To evolve methods of utilisation of sewage and suitable trade effluents in agriculture) To evolve efficient methods of disposal of sewage and trade effluents on land, as are necessary on account of the predominant conditions of scant stream flows that do not provide for major part of the year the minimum degree of dilution.
     
  • To lay down standards of treatment of sewage and trade effluents to be discharged into any particular stream taking into account the minimum fair weather dilution available in that stream and the tolerance limits of pollution permissible in the water of the stream, after the discharge of such effluents.
     
  • To make, vary or revoke any order
    1. for the prevention, control or abatement of discharge of waste into streams or wells
       
    2. requiring any person concerned to construct new systems for the disposal of sewage and trade effluents or to modify, alter or extend any such remedial measures as are necessary to prevent, control or abate water pollution.
    • To lay down effluent standards to be complied with by persons while causing discharge of sewage or sullage or both and to lay down, modify or annul effluent standards for the sewage and trade effluents
    • To advise the State Government with respect to the location of any industry the carrying on of which is likely to pollute a stream or well
    • To perform such other functions as may be prescribed or as may, from time to time, be entrusted to it by the Central Board or the State Government.
  1. The Board may establish or recognise a laboratory or laboratories to enable the Board to perform its functions under this section efficiently, including the analysis of samples of water from any stream or well or of samples of any sewage or trade effluents,

 

Q6.  What is the importance of Section 24 of the Water Act 1974?
Answer :
According to Section 24 of the Water Act, 1974
  1. No person should knowingly cause or permit any poisonous, noxious or polluting matter determined in accordance with such standards as may be laid down by the State Board to enter (whether directly or indirectly) into any stream or well or sewer or on land; or
     
  2. No person shall knowingly cause or permit to enter into any stream any other matter which may tend, either directly or in combination with similar matters, to impede the proper flow of the Water of the stream in a manner leading or likely to lead to a substantial aggravation of pollution due to other causes or of its consequences.

However, a person shall not be guilty of an offence under sub-section(1) by reason only of having done or caused to be done any of the following acts, namely

  1. Constructing, improving or maintaining in or across or on the bank or bed of any stream, any building, bridge, weir, dam, sluice, dock, pier, drain or sewer or other permanent works which he has a right to construct, improve or maintain.
     
  2. Depositing any materials on the bank or in the bed of any stream for the purpose of reclaiming land or for supporting, repairing or protecting the bank of bed of such stream provided such materials are not capable of polluting such stream
     
  3. Putting into any stream any sand or gravel or other natural deposit which has flowed from or been deposited by the current of such stream.
     
  4. Causing or permitting, with the consent of the State Board, the deposit accumulated in a well, pond or reservoir to enter into any stream.

Penalty for contravention of provisions of Section-24 :

Whoever contravenes the provisions of Section 24 shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than one year and six months but which may extend to six years and with fine.

 

Q7.  Can the Municipal Corporation, Companies, Government departments also prosecuted under the Water Act?
Answer :
Yes. This is provided under sections 47 and 48 of the Water Act.

Section 47, offences by companies :

  1. Where an offence under this Act has been committed by a company every person who at the time the offence was committed was in charge of, and was responsible to the company for the conduct, of the business of the company, as well as the company, shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly:
     
  2. Provided that nothing contained in this sub-section shall render any such person liable to any punishment provided in this Act if he proves that the offence was committed without his knowledge or that he exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of such offence.
     
  3. Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section(1), where an offence under this Act has been committed by a company and it is proved that the offence has been committed with the consent or connivance of, or is attributable to any neglect on the part of, any director, manager, secretary or other officer shall also be deemed to be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.

Explanation : For the purpose of this section

  1. "Company" means any body corporate, and includes a firm or other association of individuals
     
  2. "Director" in relation to a firm means a partner in the firm.

Section 48. Offences by Government Departments.

Where an offence under this Act has been committed by any Department of Government, the head of the Department shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.

 

Q8.  What emergency measures can the Central/State Pollution Boards take under the Water Act ?
Answer :
Emergency measures in case of pollution of stream or well :
  1. Where it appears to the State Board that any poisonous, noxious or polluting matter is present in [any stream or well or on land by reason of the discharge of such matter in such stream or well or on such land] or has entered into that stream or well due to any accident or other unforeseen act or event, and if the Board is of opinion that it necessary or expedient to take immediate action, it may for reasons to be recorded in writing, carry out such operations as it may consider necessary for all or any of the following purposes, that it to say,
  1. Removing that matter from the [stream or well or on land] and disposing it off in such manner as the Board considers appropriate
     
  2. Remedying or mitigating any pollution caused by its presence in the stream or well.
     
  3. Issuing orders immediately restraining or prohibiting the person concerned from discharging any poisonous, noxious or polluting matter [into the stream or well or on land], or from making insanitary use of the stream or well.
  1. The power conferred by sub-section(1) does not include the power to construct any works other than works of a temporary character which are removed on or before the completion of the operations.

 

Q9.  What are the different powers given to the Central/State Pollution Control Boards/Committees under the Water Act?
Answer :
The powers given to Central / State Boards to make application to courts for restraining apprehended pollution of water in streams or wells :
  1. Where it is apprehended by a Board that the water in any stream or well is likely to be polluted by reason of the disposal or likely disposal of any matter in such stream or well or in any sewer or on any land, or otherwise, the Board may make a application to a court, not inferior to that of a metropolitan Magistrate or a Judicial Magistrate of the first class, for restraining the person who is likely to cause such pollution from so causing.
     
  2. On receipt of an application under sub-section(1) the court may make such order as it deems fit.
     
  3. Where under sub-section(2) the court makes an order restraining any person from polluting the water in any stream or well, it may in that order
  1. Direct the person who is likely to cause or has caused the pollution of the water in the stream or well, to desist from taking such action as is likely to cause pollution or, as the case may be, to remove from such stream or well, such matter
  1. Authorise the Board, if the direction under Clause(I) (being a direction for the removal of any matter from such stream or well) is not complied with by the person to whom such direction is issued, to undertake the removal and disposal of the matter in such manner as may be specified by the Court.
  1. All expenses incurred by the Board in removing any matter in pursuance of the authorisation under clause(ii) of sub-section(3) or in the disposal of any such matter may be defrayed out of any money obtained by the Board from such disposal and any balance outstanding shall be recoverable from the person concerned as arrears of land revenue or of public demand.

Section 33-A. Power to give directions :

Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law, but subject to the provisions of this Act and to any directions that the Central Government may give in this behalf, a Board may, in the exercise of its powers and performance of its functions under this Act, issue any directions in writing to any person, officer or authority, and such person, officer or authority shall be bound to comply with such directions.

Explanation

For the avoidance of doubts, it is hereby declared that the power to issue directions under this section includes the power to direct

  1. Closure, prohibition or regulation of any industry, operation or process

Or

  1. The stoppage or regulation of supply of electricity, water or any other service.

 

Q10.  What restriction does the Water Act impose on private citizens with respect to courts taking cognizance of offences under the Water Act ? 
Answer :
Under this Act:

No court shall take cognizance of any offence except on a complaint made by any person who has given notice of not less than sixty days, in the manner prescribed, of the alleged offence and of his intention to make a complaint to the Board or officer authorised by the Board.

N.B.

  1. No court inferior to that of a Metropolitan Magistrate or a Judicial Magistrate of the first class shall try any offence punishable under this Act.
     
  2. Where a complaint has been made by any private citizen the Board shall, on demand by such person make available the relevant reports in its possession to that person.

The Board may refuse to make any such report available to such person if the same is, in its opinion, against the public interest.

Are there any provisions to safeguard rivers and (natural) lakes ?

According to (Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of TamilNadu) GO No. 1 dated 06/02/84, of the a factory can come up at a distance of one kilometer from a river or natural waterbody. The Ministry of Environment and Forests passed a GO No. 213 dated 30.03.89 amending the distance from one kilometer of five kilometers.

The Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of TamilNadu, in its GO No. 127 dated 8/5/98, has amended its earlier reference with respect the river, (GO No.213, Ministry of Environment and Forest, dated 30-8-89) that no industry coming under red category should be located within 5 km from major river Cauvery and its tributaries.

 
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