GANGA CLEAN UP – A LITERATURE REVIEW By Swati Bisen from GNLU
There exists a plethora of scholarly articles and media reports on the cleaning up of river Ganga issue and therefore its shambling status is no longer a secret. This article is more of an attempt to focus on an in exhaustive list of legislations which are in direct connection with the unsatisfactory implementation.
This review looks into six legislations inclusive of several amendments of existing laws passed by central ministries such as Ministry of Environment and Forest, Works and Housing etc. After looking into these legislations one can affirm their basic objective of curbing water pollution by providing a stronger administrative unit to deal with it exclusively. In due course of time, new solutions have been explored. However, all the steps that are being taken as possible measures, as mentioned above, merely focus on controlling the menace by taking steps at the executive level. Some basic features of these legislations are as mentioned-
- Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 – It is perhaps the most important Act in this arena. Its most essential feature is the provision for constitution of central as well as state boards to look into this crisis on both the levels by prescribing a minimum set of qualifications to maintain the quality of work at an optimum level. The act also allows for delegation of certain duties if so required. The governments have also been allowed to constitute a joint board comprising officials from both levels. Whereas even the Honourable Supreme Court has been given the power to make rules in this regard. While prescribing several powers to the boards such as power to take sample of effluents, power to get restraining orders against offenders, power to impose fines and publication of information about offenders etc., due considerations have been given to the other parties’ interests. It further deals with the establishment of laboratories at both levels for inspection of water pollutants and for providing technical details for their efficient working.
- Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Rules, 1975: These rules present procedural aspects and working mechanism of the Boards with greater detail. Mainly regarding, the manner and forms of giving notice, application of consent filed for compliances with laws, discretion of board members to associate with independent persons outside the constituted board for temporary purposes etc. It also provides for power and duties, terms and conditions for the appointment of the chairman of the board as well as other member secretaries.
- Central Board for Prevention and Control of Water Pollution(Procedure for Transaction of Business) Rules, 1975: It provides for the procedures for transactions of business constituted by the Board, such as maintenance of quorum, provision for issuing a notice before holding a meeting and recording minutes of the same etc.
- Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977: It was brought into existence for the imposition of cess, on the persons operating certain industries by local authorities, with a view to augment the resources of the Central and State Boards for the prevention and control of water pollution constituted under the Water Act, 1974.It provides for mandatory affixing of metres to calculate the amount of water consumed by such organizations who are then suppose to pay cess accordingly. The act also provides for imposition of a penalty in cases of default and the authority bestowed with the power to make rules in this regard.
- Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Rules, 1978: These rules provide for modifications to the existing Act and were presented by the Ministry of Works and Housing.
- Water (Prevention and control of pollution) Cess Amendment Act, 2003: A few changes were brought in the existing Act by the following amendment. These include the power of Central Government to exempt certain industries from paying cess by looking into certain criterions, the definition of ‘Industry’ was also modified and a new schedule was added to pay cess on the basis of type of water consumption done.
These regulations, therefore, as is clearly evident, are not rivers centric but are rather rapt on general water bodies in the country in an attempt to curb and control pollution in the same, dealing with the creation of administrative bodies, elucidating upon their power, duties and functioning mechanisms. However, whether the said sanctions are enough to disincentives the polluters is a matter of debate. Further, the contradictions in various pollution control legislations of the country in the light of penalty imposition etc showcases redundancy. The call of the hour is therefore enactment of harmonized legislations by revisiting the provisions in order to ensure easier and efficient implementations by shrinking the loopholes, if not completely eradicating them. Implementations can never be 100% effective till the work at the executive level is further strengthened.
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