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Major Environmental Laws Of India

Major Environmental Laws Of India

Wildlife Protection Act, 1972

  • Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 is the most important law for the protection of both flora and fauna. It is applicable to all states except Jammu and Kashmir which has a separate law enacted for the purpose.
  • Important features of the Act are mentioned below:
  • The Act consists of 166 sections and 6 Schedules. Schedule 1 to 5 is for fauna and Schedule 6 is for flora. Six Schedule lists are given at the end of the Act.
  • Schedule 1 to 5 pertain to animals and Schedule 6 pertains to plants. Poaching, smuggling, etc., of animals listed from Schedule 1 to Schedule 4 are prohibited.
  • Animals listed under Schedule 1 and 2 are accorded highest protection. Penalties prescribed for the offences related to these animals are also maximum.
  • Animals listed in Schedule 5 are called vermin which can be hunted. For instance, mice, rat, bats, etc. Schedule 6 lists plants.
  • Collection, cultivation, trade, etc., of the plants mentioned in this Schedule are prohibited. For instance, pitcher plant, orchid, blue vanda and ladies slipper.
  • The Act grants more powers to the Central Government than to the State Government. For instance, only the Union Government can declare any wild animal as a vermin.
  • The state government is responsible for the implementation of this Act.                Major Environmental Laws Of India

Environment Protection Act, 1986

The Environment Protection Act (EPA) is the primary law passed to safeguard the environment. The salient features of the Act are as follows:

  • The Act provides stringent penal provisions on violation of the Act, such as imprisonment that may extend up to a period of five years or a fine of 1 lakh or both.
  • If the violation continues even after the first conviction under the Act, the Act imposes further penalty of Rs. 5000/- per day.
  • If the violation continues beyond one year, then the imprisonment may extend for a term of seven years.
  • The Act empowers the Central Government to take appropriate measures to prevent and control violations under the Act.
  • The Central Government can issue directions for the regulation, closure, etc., of any industry.
  • The Central Government is also authorised to stop, regulate the supply of electricity, water or any other service without obtaining the order of the court in this regard.
  • Moreover, the EPA grants immunity to officers of the government for any act done under the provisions of this law.
  • In case of violation of provisions of this Act by the government department, the Act holds the Head of the Department guilty of violation, unless he proves that the offence was committed without his knowledge or that he exercised due diligence to prevent the commission of offence.
  • Principle of locus standi (complaint by actual victim) does not apply to EPA, i.e., any person can file a complaint to the Central Government against the violation of EPA.

If the Central Government does not take any action in 60 days, then the person can approach the courts.

Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 1991

  • The Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification applies to the coastal stretches which are influenced by the tidal action, up to 500 m from the high tide line and the land between high tide line and low tide line.                    Major Environmental Laws Of India
  • Notification on CRZ, 1991 aims at protecting the coastal stretches in India. The notification requires the states and the UTs of the coastal region to prepare coastal zone management plans.
  • Coastal zone management plans categorise various activities into permissible and non-permissible activities.                  Major Environmental Laws Of India
  • These plans are approved by MoEFCC. Any economic or other activity in the coastal regions requires permission as per the plan.
  • Administrative bodies for implementation, monitoring and providing advice to the respective governments under CRZ are National Coastal Zone Management Authority and State Coastal Zone Management Authority. These authorities are created under Section 5 of EPA.

Forest Conservation Act, 1980

  • The Forest Conservation Act, 1980 is an act of the Parliament with a view to conserve the forests and for the matters connected therewith or ancillary or incidental thereto. The Act extends to the whole of India, except the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • According to Section 2 of the Act, prior approval of the Central Government is necessary, before the state government or any other authority can issue direction for de-reservation of reserved forests.
  • The term ‘forest land’ mentioned in Section 2 of the Act refers to the reserved forest, protected forest or any area recorded as forest in the government records.
  • The term ‘forest’ shall not be applicable for the plantation raised on private land, except notified as private forest.
  • Appeals against the orders made under Section 2 of the Forest Conservation Act on or after the commencement of the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 lie with the National Green Tribunal.
  • The procedures along with the formats for obtaining clearances under the Act have been prescribed under the Forest Conservation Rules 2003 and 2004, which also have constituted a forest advisory committee and regional empowered committee.                Major Environmental Laws Of India
  • Non-compliance of provisions of Section 2 of the Act shall be punishable with simple imprisonment for a period which may extend up to 15 days.

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Environment & Biodiversity

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