Air (Prevention and Control of pollution) Act in India

The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act was enacted in the year 1981 to control and prevent air pollution. In this article, the role of Central and State Government are discussed along with its constitution. The Central pollution control board’s power and functions, The state pollution control board’s different power and functions, appeal by the aggrieved person, penalties and procedures under this act are discussed here in this article.

The air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act was enacted in the year 1981.It was the result of the united Nation's Conference on Human Environment held at Stockholm where India had also participated. It was enacted with a view to provide prevention, control and abatement of air pollution. This act applied to the whole of our country.

Pollution control Board

There are two pollution control boards in India. One is Central pollution control board and the other is State pollution control board.

The State pollution control Board is constituted by
(a) A Chairman nominated by the State government. He may work as whole time or part time as instructed by the government.

(b) Not more than five officials nominated by the state government to represent the government.

(c) Not more than five persons from the local authorities of the State nominated by the State Government.

(d) Not more than three non officials to represent the interest if fishery, agriculture, industry or trade or labor nominated by the State government.

(e) Two persons nominated by the State government who represent companies or corporations owned by the State government.

(f) A person who has knowledge about scientific or management aspects of pollution control is nominated as a full time member secretary.

Role of Central Government and terms and conditions for the members of State pollution control board

According to Section 6 of the Act, the Central government will perform its duties in any union territory as the State Government.

In section 7 of the Act, the terms and conditions for the member are given which are as follows.

(i) The member should hold office for three years.

(ii) He should hold the office until his successor join in the office.

(iii) His terms of office come to an end when he ceases to come to the office.

(iv) He can resign the office at any time by giving application to the Chairman.

(v) The Chairman can resign his job by giving application to the state Government.

(vi) If a member is absent in three consecutive meeting of the Pollution Control Board without giving any reason, his will be terminated from the job.

The State Pollution Control Board can appoint a consultant to the board.

Disqualification of membership

(i) If a person is adjudged insolvent at any time he cannot be a member of the board.

(ii) If a person is of unsound mind declared by a court he cannot be a member.

(iii) If a person involved in any moral turpitude or is convicted of any crime he cannot be a member of the Board.

(iv) If a person is convicted of any offence under the State pollution control Board, he cannot be a member.

(v) A person who is carrying business of manufacture, himself or with partners cannot be qualified as a member of the board. Also, a person who is also engaged in sale and hire of any machinery in a desire to improve the quality of air or prevention of air pollution cannot be qualified as a member of the board.

(vi) If a person is a director or manager or secretary of any business establishment who have contract with the board cannot be qualified as a member of the board. Salaried person also cannot be member of the board. They should not have any contract with the State Government or local authorities who are concerned with the Pollution Control Board.

(vii) A person whom the State government thinks unfit for his work detrimental to the public interest is not qualified as a member of the Pollution Control Board.

Central Board's Power and Function

The power and functions of Central pollution control board are as follows:
(i) The Central board advises the Central Government in matters relating to improvement of the quality of air, to control and prevent air pollution.

(ii) The Central board plan for program to be held to discuss about prevention and control of air pollution. It also held program on this.

(iii) If there is any dispute among the state boards, the Central government helps to resolve it and co ordinates with the work of the State government.

(iv) Technical assistance and guidance are given by the Central Board to the State board. It also carries out investigation and research relating to prevention and control of air pollution.

(v) The central board performs the functions of the State Board if any specified under Section 18 of the Act given in any order.

(vi) The training of the members of the Pollution control board is organized by the Central pollution control board.

(vii) It collects technical and statistical data relating to prevention and control the air pollution. It also publishes these data. It prepares manual or guides for prevention and control air pollution.

(viii) The standards for the quality of air are determined by the Central Government.

(ix) The Central Board can set up laboratories for its functions.

The State Pollution Control Board's functions

The functions of the State Pollution Control Board are as follows:
(i) According to Section 17 of the Act, the State Board has to plan program for control and prevention of air along with their securities.

(ii) The information related to air pollution should be collect and disseminate by the State Board.

(iii) The state board has to inspect and give directions to industrial plants to control air pollution.

(iv) The State pollution Control Board gives advises to the State Government in matters relating to prevention and control of air pollution.

(v) The State board inspect the areas known as air pollution control areas to assess the quality of air and gives proper direction to control air pollution.

(vi) The State board advises the State government for the suitability of any industry if any industry can cause air pollution.

(vii) Performs any other function prescribed by the State Government and to do other necessary works for proper discharge of function to control air pollution.

(viii) The State board determines the standard of emission of air pollutant by the industry. To do this, it consults with the Central air pollution control board.

(ix) The Central and State board are bound by the directions given by the Central and State government respectively according to Section 18 of the Act.

Restriction on Industrial plants by the pollution control board

There are some restrictions on Industrial plants as prescribed in section 21 of the Act. These are as follows.

A person can set up industrial plant in pollution control area with approval by the State Pollution control board. The person has to send to send application for this approval in prescribed form along with prescribed fee. If the area where he establishes his industry is not declared as pollution control area before he set up the plant, he has to send application for approval within three months of the declaration of the area as pollution control area. The State board may refuse to give approval or may grant his application to set up industry for certain periods. But the State Government may cancel its grant before expiry of the term it notices to the person.

According to Section 21(5) of the Act, the person has some obligations to whom, consent is given for establishing industrial plant. These are as follows:

(a) The equipment for controlling such specifications should be installed and operated in the area where it is proposed to be carried on.

(b) If the equipments are in some other place, it should be replaced to the proposed place.

(c) These above mentioned equipments should be kept in good running conditions.

(d) If necessary, chimneys should be erected in the industrial plant.
The State pollution control Board has the power to vary any of these obligations it thinks necessary in whole or in part.

If the industrial plant is transferred to another person by the owner, the State Government also gives him consent with all the obligations as before.
The person who is responsible for causing more air pollution than the given standard is restrained from it by the State Board by sending application to the court as prescribed in Section 22A of the Act. The court should be higher than the Metropolitan court or Judicial Magistrate court. When the court received the application it orders to restrain the person. The expense is recovered from the person which was incurred by the board during this procedure.

State pollution control board's power to entry and inspection

According to Section 24 of the Act, the State Pollution Control Board can give authority to any person to enter any place for performing the functions of the State Board. He has the power to determine in what manner the functions are to be performed. If he has any reason to believe that any offence has been committed or about to be committed, he can examine the industrial plant, their records and register, control equipment or any document and can seize these.
It is the obligation of every person of the industrial plant to help the person authorized by the State board in inspecting the industry. If any one does not help willfully, he will be considered guilty of offence. The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 will be applicable for offences of this part.

State board's power to obtain information and take samples

The State board can obtain any information on air pollution from persons in the industrial plant for carrying out its functions. It can verify the information by inspecting the industrial premise. In an amendment made in the Act in the year 1987, the State Pollution Control Board is empowered to inspect any industrial plant which is outside the air pollution control area.

According to section 26 of the Act, the State board is empowered to take sample of air or emission from the chimney of the industrial plant, flue or duct of any other outlet to determine the standard of air by itself or by any officer authorized by it.

The sample is sent to the laboratory for analysis and the report is sent t the state board in prescribed form in triplicate. One copy is kept for production before the court, one copy is sent to the owner or agent of the industrial plant and the other copy is kept by the State Board itself. The expense incurred in this analysis process is taken from the occupier of the premise.

State board's power to set up State air laboratory and give directions

The State pollution control board has the power to establish laboratories carry out its functions or it can also specify some laboratories to carry out functions for the State board. The rules for the laboratories are made by the State government after consulting with the State board. The State government can appoint qualified persons as analyst in the laboratories as prescribed in Section 29 of the Act.

An amendment in the Act is made in the Act by inserting Section 31A of the Act. According to this Section, the State pollution control board has the power to give directions such as closure, prohibition or regulation of any industry, its operation, stoppage or regulation of electricity supply, water supply or any other service. The State board issues directions to any person, officer or authority in writing. The person or authority which is given direction has obligations to comply with such directions.

Appeal by the aggrieved person

According to Section 31 of the Act, an aggrieved person can appeal to appropriate authority within 30 days from the date on which the order is given. If the appellate authority is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from filing appeal in time, the appellate authority accepts the appeal beyond the period of 30 days.

Penalties and procedures under this Act

Penalties and procedures are mentioned in Chapter vi of the Act. According to Section 37 of the Act, the offences under this law are punishable with imprisonment for not less than one year and six months and it may extend to six years with fine. An additional fine of Rs 5,000 per day is applicable for continuous failure after the conviction. The person will be imprisoned for maximum seven years and minimum two years if his failure to comply with the provisions of Section 21, Section 22 and section 31A continues beyond a period of one year.

According to Section 38 of the Act, a person is punishable with imprisonment for maximum three months with fine of Rs 10,000 for the following offences.

(i) If pillars or stake fixed in the ground of the industrial premises are destroyed or removed or pulled down by the person.

(ii) If a person authorized by the State board is obstructed by any person.

(iii) If the property belongs to the State board is destroyed, the person responsible for this damaged is punished.

(iv) If he fails to furnish documents required by the board or any officer.

(v) If there is excess of air pollutant emitted into the air and the authority or person responsible for it fails to intimate the occurrence of this emission.

(vi) If a person is found to be guilty for supplying false documents required by the State board.

(vii) If a person gives false statement for obtaining consent for set up industrial plant is punishable under this Act.

According to Section 39 of the Act, if there is no penalty prescribed in the Act for contravention of any provisions of the act or any order or direction issued, and any person found guilty for such contravention, he is punishable with fine and imprisonment. The fine may extend to Rs 10,000 with additional fine of Rs 5000 per day for further contravention and imprisonment for maximum three months.

There is a provision for offences made by the companies. If a company is responsible for any offences made under this Act, every persons of the company who were present at the time of commission of the offence shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence and punished. But if the person can prove him innocent that the offence was committed without his knowledge and he tried his best to prevent such offence he shall not be liable for such punishment.

Supersede of State pollution control board by the State government

According to section 47 of the Act, the State Government has the power to supersede the State Pollution control board if defaults are made persistently by the State Board in performing its functions. It gives notification to the State Board in the Official Gazette for a period of not exceeding six months. Before sending the notification, the State government is given reasonable opportunity.

After receiving the notification, all members of the State board should vacate their office. The functions, powers and duties are performed by such person or persons as directed by the State Government and the properties of the Board shall vest in the State government until the State Pollution Control Board is reconstituted.


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