Important Environmental Laws Of India

The Constitution of India under Part IVA (Art 51A-Fundamental Duties) casts a duty on every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures

In our constitution under Part IV (Art 48A-Directive Principles of State Policies) stipulates that the State shall endeavor to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country.

Important Environmental Acts in India - Important Environmental Laws Of India

Important Environmental Laws Of India

National Legislation related to environment

Here we discuss some Acts that are related directly or indirectly to our environment (general assurance, water, air, and wildlife).

Factories Act -1948 and it was amended in 1987– it was related to concern for the working environment of the workers. The amendment of 1987 has sharpened its environmental focus and expanded its application to hazardous processes.

National Council for Environmental Policy and Planning was set up in 1972 within the Department of Science and Technology, After the UN conference on the human environment in Stockholm in 1972.

  • later the National Council for Environmental Policy and Planning evolved into a full-fledged Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).
  • Establishment of MoEF in 1985, The MoEF and the pollution control boards together form the regulatory and administrative core of the sector.
Important Environment Acts in India

Some important Acts related to our environmental protection:

  • The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010– (NGT Act) The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010. It was enacted with the objective of the establishment of a national green tribunal for the effective disposal of cases related to environmental protection, conservation of forests, and other natural resources.
Legislative Acts related to air
  • The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981. provided for prevention, control, and abatement of air pollution and the establishment of Boards at the Central and State levels.
  • The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Amendment Act 1987,  empowers the central and state pollution control boards to meet with grave emergencies of air pollution.

Legislative Acts related to water 
  • The Water Prevention and Control of Pollution Act of 1974 and amendment on 1988- the Act has been enacted to provide for the prevention and control of water pollution and to maintain or restore the wholesomeness of water in the country
  • The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act of 1977- The Act provided for the levy and collection of a cess on water consumed by persons operating and carrying on certain types of industrial activities.
  • Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Rules- 1978, deals with the standard definitions and indicates the kind of and location of meters that every consumer of water is required to affix.

  • National Water Policy– this Policy was adopted in September 1987. It was reviewed and updated in 2002 and later in 2012.

  • Coastal Regulation Zone– it is under section 3 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986 India, the Coastal Regulation Zone notification was issued in February 1991 for the first time, for regulation of activities in the coastal area by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).

  • Godavari Water Disputes– common tribunal on 10 April 1969 for solving the river water utilization disputes of the river basin states of Godavari and Krishna rivers under the provisions of Inter-state River Water Disputes Act – 1956.
  • Interstate river water disputes Act, 1959– it is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted under Article 262 of the Constitution of India.  Article 262 of the Indian Constitution provides a role for the Central government in adjudicating conflicts surrounding inter-state rivers that arise among the state/regional governments.  Further, the Act has undergone amendments subsequently and the most recent amendment took place in the year 2002.

  • Krishna water disputes tribunal– The government of India constituted a common tribunal on 10 April 1969 to adjudicate the river water utilization disputes among the river basin states of Krishna and Godavari rivers under the provisions of the Interstate River Water Disputes Act – 1956
Hazardous waste management regulations 

There are several legislations in our constitution that directly or indirectly deals with hazardous waste management.

  • Hazardous Wastes (Management, Handling and Transboundary) Rules, 2008, guide for manufacture, storage, and import of hazardous chemicals and for management of hazardous wastes.
  • Biomedical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998,  related to proper disposal, segregation, transport, etc, of infectious wastes.

  • Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000, aims to enable municipalities to dispose of municipal solid waste in a scientific manner.

  • Batteries (Management and Handling) Rules, 2001

  • Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules, 2016

Legislative Acts related to forest and wildlife
  • The Environment (Protection) Act of 1986- is provided for the protection and improvement of the environment. The Environment Protection Act establishes the framework for studying, planning, and implementation of long-term requirements of environmental safety and laying down a system of speedy and adequate response to situations threatening the environment.
  • The Wild Life (Protection) Act of 1972- 73 ( Amendment in 1991)-  The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 was enacted with the objective of effectively protecting the wildlife of this country also to control poaching, smuggling, and illegal trade in wildlife and its derivatives. The Act was amended in January 2003 and punishment and penalty for offenses under the Act have been made more stringent
  • The Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980- was enacted to help conserve the country’s forests. It strictly restricts and regulates the de-reservation of forests or the use of forest land for non-forest purposes without the prior approval of the Central Government. 
  • Biological Diversity Bill 2002- this Act was born out of India’s attempt to realize the objectives enshrined in the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), 1992 which recognizes the sovereign rights of states to use their own Biological Resources. The Act aims at the conservation of biological resources and associated knowledge as well as facilitating access to them in a sustainable manner.
    • The National Biodiversity Authority in Chennai has been established for the purposes of implementing the objects of the Act.
Some important facts related to conservation of wildlife and endangerd animals asked in exams:
India is a signatory to the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES, 1976).

conservation projects for individual endangered species:

  • Hungal (1970),
  • Lion(1972),
  • Tiger (1973),
  • Crocodiles (1974),
  • Brown-antlered Deer (1981), and
  • Elephant (1991-92).
  • Forest Act of 1927
  • Elephant’s Preservation Act of 1879
  • Ministry of Environment and Forests in 1985.
  • 2010 – Wetland Rules


International Legislation Environment

(Protocol- A protocol is an international agreement that stands on its own but it is linked with an existing convention.)

Wetland Convention (Ramsar Convention)

came in force in 1975- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). India became a signatory to this convention in 1981– The Convention is for reducing the loss of wetlands and to ensure the conservation of fauna and flora and their ecological processes.

Montreal Protocol

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)- a convention for the protection of the ozone layer the Montreal Protocol on Substances that deplete the Ozone layer was agreed to by nations in 1987.there are five amendments to the Protocol adopted in London (1990), Copenhagen (1992), Vienna (1995), Montreal (1997) and Beijing (1999). The Protocol aims to reduce and eliminate the emission of man-made ozone-depleting substances.

Climate Conventions

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It is the landmark international treaty unveiled at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992.

Convention on Climate Change the Kyoto Protocol December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan

Biological Diversity Convention

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was adopted during the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED – or the “Earth Summit”) in Rio de Janeiro on 5 June 1992.  Effective from 29 December 1993.

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