The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981
Summary: Industrialization and urbanization have resulted in a profound deterioration of India's air quality. Of the 3 million premature deaths in the world that occur each year due to outdoor and indoor air pollution, the highest numbers are assessed to occur in India.The Air Act provides for the prevention, control and abatement of air pollution. It also provides for the establishment of Boards with a view to carrying out the aforesaid purposes.
Surveys indicate that in New Delhi the incidence of respiratory diseases due to air pollution is about 12 times the national average. According to the World Health Organization, the capital city of New Delhi is one of the top ten most polluted cities in the world. The Act provides for the prevention, control and abatement of air pollution. It also provides for the establishment of Boards with a view to carrying out the aforesaid purposes.
Decisions were taken at the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm in June, 1972, in which India participated, to take appropriate steps for the preservation of the natural resources of the earth which, among other things, include the preservation of the quality of air and control of air pollution;
The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 extends to the whole of India.
"Air pollutant" means any solid, liquid or gaseous substance [(including noise)] present in the atmosphere in such concentration as may be or tend to be injurious to human beings or other living creatures or plants or property or environment;
Effects of air pollution on human beings
Hydrocarbons emitted by automobiles are toxic and react with hemoglobin in the blood. The effect of nitrogen is adverse and permanent. It increases children's susceptibility to diseases like influenza. Sulphur dioxide in the air spreads air acidity and corrodes buildings. It causes irritation to various parts of the respiratory systems.
The heart may be damaged by air pollution, secondary to lung diseases. Nitrogen dioxide results in pulmonary edema and aggravation of coronary disease. Toxic effects of pollution include impaired IQ development defects in children. These are few of the many effects of air pollution on human beings.
Functions: Central and State Boards
Both the Central and State Pollution Boards have been established for prevention and control of air pollution.
Central Board to exercise the powers and perform the functions of a State Board in the Union territories.
No State Board shall be constituted for a Union territory and in relation to- a Union territory; the Central Board shall exercise the powers and perform the functions of a State Board under this Act for that Union territory provided that in relation to any Union territory the Central Board may delegate all or any of its powers and functions under this section to such person or body of persons as the Central Government may specify.
POWERS AND FUNCTIONS OF CENTRAL BOARD
- The main functions of the Central Board shall be to improve the quality of air and to prevent, control or abate air pollution in the country.
- advise the Central Government on any matter concerning the improvement of the quality of air and the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution;
- plan and cause to be executed a nation-wide programme for the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution;
- co-ordinate the activities of the State and resolve disputes among them;
- provide technical assistance and guidance to the State Boards, carry out and sponsor investigations and research relating to problems of air pollution and prevention, control or abatement of air pollution;(dd) perform such of the function of any State Board as may, be specified in and order made under sub-section (2) of section 18;
- plan and organise the training of persons engaged or to be engaged in programmes for the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution on such terms and conditions as the Central Board may specify;
- organise through mass media a comprehensive programme regarding the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution;
- collect, compile and publish technical and statistical data relating to air pollution and the measures devised for its effective prevention, control or abatement and prepare manuals, codes or guides relating to prevention, control or abatement of air pollution;
- lay down standards for the quality of air,
- collect and disseminate information in respect of matters relating to air pollution;
perform such other functions as may be prescribed.
The Central Board may establish or recognise a laboratory or laboratories to enable the Central Board to perform its functions under this section efficiently.
FUNCTIONS OF STATE BOARDS
The functions of a State Board shall be-
- to plan a comprehensive programme for the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution and to secure the execution thereof-,
- to advise the State Government on any matter concerning the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution;
- to collect and disseminate information relating to air 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 air pollution and to organise mass-education programme relating thereto;
- to inspect, at all reasonable times, any control equipment, industrial plant or manufacturing process and to give, by order, such directions to such persons as it may consider necessary to take steps for the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution;
- to inspect air pollution control areas at such intervals as it may think necessary, assess the quality of air therein and take steps for the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution in such areas;
- to lay down, in consultation with the Central Board and having regard to the standards for the quality of air laid down by the Central Board, standards for emission of air pollutants into the atmosphere from industrial plants and automobiles or for the discharge of any air pollutant into the atmosphere from any other source whatsoever not being a ship or an aircraft: Provided that different standards for emission may be laid down under this clause for different industrial plants having regard to the quantity and composition of emission of air pollutants into the atmosphere from such industrial plants;
- to advise the State Government with respect to the suitability of any premises or location for carrying on any industry, which is likely to cause, air pollution;
- 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;
to do such other things and to perform such other acts as it may think necessary for the proper discharge of its functions and generally for the purpose of carrying into effect the purposes of this Act.
ALL POLLUTING INDUSTRIES COME WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF THE ACT
The Karnataka High Court has held that there is no provision under which the parliament has been vested with any discretion with the State Pollution Control Board to grant exemption to any particular industrial plant or class of plants from the provisions of the Act. The functions assigned to the State Board are meant for taking such steps as may further the objects of the Act in effectively controlling air pollution caused by the industries. It does not empower the State Board to keep any industrial plant out of the purview of the Air Act if it causes air pollution.
Power to Declare Air Pollution Control Areas
- The State Government may, after consultation with the State Board, by notification in the Official Gazette declare in such manner as may be prescribed, any area or areas within the State as air pollution control area or areas for the purposes of this Act.
- The State government may, after consultation with the State Board, by notification in the Official Gazette,-
- alter any air pollution control area whether by way of extension or reduction;
- declare a new air pollution control area in which may be merged one or more existing air pollution control areas or any part or parts thereof.
- If the State Government, after consultation with the State Board, is of opinion that the use of any fuel, other than an approved fuel, in any air pollution control area or part thereof, may cause or is likely to cause air pollution, it may, by notification in the Official Gazette, prohibit the use of such fuel in such area or part thereof with effect from such date (being not less than three months from the date of publication of the notification) as may be specified in the notification.
- The State Government may, after consultation with the Sate Board, by notification in the Official Gazette, direct that with effect from such date as may be specified therein, no appliance, other than an approved appliance, shall be used in the premises situated in an air pollution control area: Provided that different dates may be specified for different parts of an air pollution control area or for the use of different appliances.
- If the State Government, after consultation with the State Board, is of opinion that the burning of any material (not being fuel) in any air pollution control area or part thereof may cause or is likely to cause air pollution, it may, by notification in the Official Gazette, prohibit the burning of such material in such area or part thereof.
The ministry of Environment and Forests has vide notifications declared the Union Territories of Delhi, Chandigarh, Dadar and Nagar Haveli and Pondicherry as air pollution control areas.
- No person shall, without the previous consent of the State Board, establish or operate any industrial plant in an air pollution control area:
- An application for consent of the State Board under sub-section (1) shall be accompanied by such fees as may bc prescribed 'and shall be made in the prescribed form and shall contain the particulars of the industrial plant and such other particulars as may be prescribed:
- Provided that where any person, immediately before the declaration of any area as an air pollution control area, operates in such area any industrial plant, such person shall make the application under this sub-section within such period (being not less than three months from the date of such declaration) as may be prescribed and where such person makes such application, he shall be deemed to be operating such industrial plant with the consent of the State Board until the consent applied for has been refused,
- The State Board may make such inquiry as it may deem fit in respect of the application for consent and in making any such inquiry, shall follow such procedure as may be prescribed.
- Within a period of four months after the receipt of the application for consent referred to in sub-section (1), the State Board shall, by order in writing, grant the consent applied for subject to such conditions and for such period as may be specified in the order, or refuse consent
It shall be open to the State Board to cancel such consent before the expiry of the period for which it is granted or refuse further consent after such expiry if the conditions subject to which such consent has been granted are not fulfilled: Provided further that before canceling consent or refusing a further consent under the first provision, a reasonable opportunity of being heard shall be given to the person concerned.
- Every person to whom consent has been granted by the State Board shall comply with the following conditions, namely-
- the control equipment of such specifications as the State Board may approve in this behalf shall be installed and operated in the premises where the industry is carried on or proposed to be carried on;
- the existing control equipment, if any, shall be altered or replaced in accordance with the directions of the State Board;
- the control equipment referred to in clause (i) or clause (ii) shall be kept at all times in good running condition;
- (iv) chimney, wherever necessary, of such specifications as the State Board may approve in this behalf shall be erected or re-erected in such premises; .and
such other conditions as the State Board, may specify in this behalf,the conditions referred to in clauses (i), (ii) and (iv) shall be complied with within such period as the State Board may specify in this behalf- Provided that in the case of a person operating any industrial plant in an air pollution control area immediately before the date of declaration of such area as an air pollution control area, the period so specified shall not be less than six months:
Provided further that-
after the installation of any control equipment in accordance with the specifications under clause (i), or
after the alteration or replacement of any control equipment in accordance with the directions of the State Board under clause (ii), or
after the erection or re-erection of any chimney under clause (iv), no control equipment or chimney shall be altered or replaced or, as the case may be, erected or re-created except with the previous approval of the State Board.
- If due to any technological improvement or otherwise the State Board is of opinion that all or any of the conditions referred to in sub-section (5) require or requires variation (including the change of any control equipment, either in whole or in part), the State Board shall, after giving the person to whom consent has been granted an opportunity of being heard, vary all or any of such conditions and thereupon such person shall be bound to comply with the conditions as so varied.
- Where a person to whom consent has been granted by the State Board under sub-section (4) transfers his interest in the industry to any other person, such consent shall be deemed to have been granted to such other person and he shall be bound to comply with all the conditions subject to which it was granted as if the consent was granted to him originally.
Application to Operate Industrial Plant
An application for consent is to be accompanied by fees as specified:
Industries having paid up capital
Not exceeding Rs. 5,00,000 250
Exceeding Rs. 5,00,000 but not exceeding 20,00,000 500
Exceeding Rs. 20,00,000 but not exceeding 1 Crore 1,000
Exceeding 1 crore 2,000
Every application for consent shall be made within 4 months from the date of declaration of any area as air pollution control area.
On receipt of the application the board may depute any of its officers to verify the particulars submitted.
Restraining Powers of The Board
Where it is apprehended by a Board that emission of any air pollutant, in excess of the standards laid down by the State Board is likely to occur by reason of any person operating an industrial plant or otherwise in any air pollution control area, the Board may make an application to a court, of a Metropolitan Magistrate or a Judicial Magistrate of the first class for restraining such person from emitting such air pollutant.
Where the court makes an order restraining any person from discharging or causing or permitting to be discharged the emission of any air pollutant, it may, in that order,
- direct such person to desist from taking such action as is likely to cause emission;
authorise the Board, if the direction under clause (a) is not complied with by the person to whom such direction is issued, to implement the direction in such manner as may be specified by the court.
All expenses incurred by the Board in implementing the sections of the court under clause (b) shall be recoverable from the person concerned as arrears of land revenue or of public demand.
POWER TO GIVE DIRECTIONS
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.
This includes the power to direct-
- the closure, prohibition or regulation of any industry, operation or
- the stoppage or regulation of supply of electricity, water or any other service.
Power of Entry and Inspection
- Any person empowered by a State Board in this behalf shall have a right to enter, at all reasonable times with such assistance as he considers necessary, any place: for the purpose of examining and testing any control equipment, industrial plant, record, register, document or any other material object or for conducting a search of any place in which he has reason to believe that an offence has been or is being or is about to be committed and for seizing any such control equipment, industrial plant, record, register, document or other material object if he has reasons to believe that it may furnish evidence of the commission of an offence punishable under this Act or the rules made thereunder.
Procedure to Take Samples
- A State Board or any officer empowered by it in this behalf shall have power to take, for the purpose of analysis, samples of air or emission from any chimney, flue or duct or any other outlet (2) The result of any analysis of a sample of emission taken under subsection
It shall not be admissible in evidence in any legal proceeding unless the following procedure is followed.
When a sample of emission is taken for analysis the person taking the sample shall-
serve on the occupier or his agent, a notice, then and there, in such form as may be prescribed, of his intention to have it so analysed;
- in the presence of the occupier or his agent, collect a sample of emission for analysis;
- cause the sample to be placed in a container or containers which shall be marked and sealed and shall also be signed both by the person taking the sample and the occupier or his agent;
- send, without delay, the container to the laboratory established or recognised by the State Board or, if a request in that behalf is made by the occupier or his agent, to the laboratory established or specified under sub-section (1) of section 28.
- When a sample of emission is taken for analysis and the person taking the sample serves on the occupier or his agent, a notice under clause
- in a case where the occupier or his agent willfully absents himself, the person taking the sample shall collect the sample of emission for analysis to be placed in a container or containers which shall be marked and sealed and shall also be signed by the person taking the sample, and
in a case where the occupier or his agent is present at the time of taking the sample but refuses to sign the marked and scaled container or containers of the sample of emission, the marked and sealed container or containers shall be signed by the person taking the sample, and the container or containers shall be sent without delay by the person taking the sample for analysis to the laboratory established under the Act 27. Reports of the result of analysis on samples taken under section 26.
Where a sample of emission has been sent for analysis to the laboratory established or recognised by the State Board, the Board analyst appointed shall analyse the sample and submit a report in the prescribed form of such analysis in triplicate to the State Board.
- On receipt of the report, one copy of the report shall be sent by the State Board to the occupier or his agent, another copy shall be preserved for production before the court in case any legal proceedings are taken against him and the other copy shall be kept by the State Board.
Any person aggrieved by an order made by the State Board under this Act may, within thirty day from the date on which the order is communicated to him, prefer an appeal to such authority (hereinafter referred to as the Appellate Authority) as the State government may think fit to constitute: Provided that the Appellate Authority may entertain the appeal after tile expiry of the said period of thirty days if such authority is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from filing the appeal in time.
The Appellate Authority for the Union territories is located at New Delhi
Penalties and Procedure
- Whoever fails to comply with the restrictions imposed on use of certain industrial plants or emits air pollutants in excess of the standards laid down or directions issued for closure, prohibition or regulation of any industry, shall, in respect of each such failure, be punishable with imprisonment for a terms which shall not be less than one year and six months but which may extend to six years and with fine, and in case the failure continues, with an additional fine which may extend to five thousand rupees for every day during which such failure continues after the conviction for the first such failure.
If the failure referred to above continues beyond a period of one year after the date of conviction, the offender shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than two years but which may extend to seven years and with fine.
PENALTIES FOR CERTAIN ACTS.
- destroys, pulls down, removes, injures or defaces any pillar, post or stake fixed in the ground or any notice or other matter put up, inscribed or placed, by or under the authority of the Board, or
- obstructs any person acting under the orders or directions of the Board from exercising his powers and performing his functions under this Act, or
- damages any works or property belonging to the Board, or
- fails to furnish to the Board or any officer or other employee of the Board any information required by the Board or such officer or other employee for the purpose of this Act, or
- fails to intimate the occurrence of the emission of air pollutants into the atmosphere in excess of the standards laid down by the State Board or the apprehension of such occurrence, to the State Board and other prescribed authorities or agencies as required under sub-section (1) of section 23, or
- in giving any information which he is required to give under this Act, makes a statement which is false in any material particular, or
- for the purpose of obtaining any consent under section 21, makes a statement which is false in any material particular shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months or with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees or with both.
PENALTY FOR CONTRAVENTION OF PROVISIONS OF THE ACT
Whoever contravenes any of the provisions of this Act or any order or direction issued thereunder, for which no penalty has been elsewhere provided in this Act, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months or with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees or with both, and in the case of continuing contravention, with an additional fine which may extend to five thousand, rupees for every day during which such contravention continues after conviction for the first such contravention.
OFFENCES BY COMPANIES
- Where an offence under this Act has, been committed by a company, every person who, at the time the offence was committed, was directly 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: 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.
- 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 of the company, such 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.
Cognizance of Offences
No court shall take cognizance of any offence under this Act except on a complaint made by-
- A Board or any officer authorised in this behalf by it; or
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 as aforesaid, and 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.
Where a complaint has been made under clause (b), the Board shall, on demand by such person, make available the relevant reports in its possession to that person: Provided that the Board may refuse to make any such report available to such person if the same is, in its opinion, against the public interest.
Bar of Jurisdiction
No civil court shall have jurisdiction to entertain any suit or proceeding in respect of any matter which an Appellate Authority constituted under this Act is empowered by or under this Act to determine, and no injunction shall be granted by any court or other authority in respect of any action taken or to be taken in pursuance of any power conferred by or under this Act.
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