Useful Notes on the Environmental Protection Act, 1986

The Act comes into force on Nov. 19, 1986, the birth anniversary of our late Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi, who was a pioneer of environmental protection issues in our country.

An Act to provide for the protection and improvement of environment and for matters connected there with:

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WHEREAS the decisions were taken at the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held at Stockholm in June, 1972, in which India participated, to take appropriate steps for the protection and improvement of human environment;

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AND WHEREAS it is considered necessary further to implement the decisions aforesaid in so far as they relate to the protection and improvement of environment and the prevention of hazards to human beings, other living creatures, plants and property;

It extends to the whole of India. It shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint and different dates may be appointed for different provisions of this Act and for different areas. This Act gives the definitions of:

(a) “Environment” includes water, air and land and the inter-relationship which exists among and between water, air and land, and human beings, other living creatures, plants, microorganism and property;


(b) “Environmental pollutant” means any solid, liquid or gaseous substance present in such concentration as may be, or tend to be, injurious to environment;

(c) “Environmental pollution” means the presence in the environment of any environmental pollutant;

(d) “Hazardous substance” means any substance or preparation which, by reason of its chemical or physico-chemical properties or handling, is liable to cause harm to human beings, other living creatures, plant, micro-organism, property or the environment.

This act consists of 4 chapters containing 26 Sections.

Chapter I Contains 2 Sections:


Section 1 Contains short title, extent and commencement

Section 2 Defines terminologies related to environment

Chapter II Contains 4 Sections:

Section 3 Empowers Central Government to take measures to protect and improve environment

Section 4 Empowers Central Government for appointments of officers with their powers and functions for successful implementation of the Act

Section 5 Empowers Central Government to give directions

Section 6 Empowers Central Government to formulate rules or regulate environmental pollution

Chapter III Contains 11 Sections:

Section 7 States that the industries carrying industrial operations are not allowed to emit or discharge environmental pollutants more than the established standards

Section 8 States that person handling hazardous substances need to comply with procedural safeguards

Section 9 Decides furnishing information to authorities and agencies in certain cases

Section 10 Has provisions of entry and inspections

Section 11 Has provisions to collect samples and their analysis

Section 12 Has provisions to set up environmental laboratories for testing and analysing air, water, soil, and other samples

Section 13 Has provisions for appointing government analyst for the purpose of analysis of samples of air, water, soil, or other substances sent to any established or approved environmental laboratory

Section 14 Refers to the reports of government analysis as devidence of facts

Section 15 Has provisions of penalty for the contravention of the provision of the Act and the rules, orders, and directions

Section 16 Describes offences by companies

Section 17 Describes offences by government departments

Chapters IV Contains 9 Sections:

Section 18 Provides protection of action taken in good faith

Section 19 Has provision of cognizance of offences

Section 20 Empowers Central Government regarding information, reports, or returns

Section 21 Declares members, officers, and employees of the authority constituted under Section 4 to be public servants

Section 22 Enforces bar of jurisdiction of civil court

Section 23 Describes powers to delegate

Section 24 Describes effects of other laws

Section 25 Provides power to make rules

Section 26 States that the rules made under this Act to be laid before Parliament


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