The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981

Industrialization and urbanization have resulted in a profound deterioration of India’s air quality. of the 3 million premature deaths in the world that occur each year due to outdoor and indoor air pollution, the highest numbers are assessed to occur in India. According to the World Health Organization, the capital city of New Delhi is one of the top ten most polluted cities in the world. Surveys indicate that in New Delhi the incidence of respiratory diseases due to air pollution is about 12 times the national average.

The Act provides for the prevention, control and abatement of air pollution. It also provides for the establishment of Boards with a view to carrying out the aforesaid purposes.

Decisions were taken at the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm in June, 1972, in which India participated, to take appropriate steps for the preservation of the natural resources of the earth which, among other things, include the preservation of the quality of air and control of air pollution;

The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 extends to the whole of India.

Air pollutant” means any solid, liquid or gaseous substance 2[(including noise)] present in the atmosphere in such concentration as may be or tend to be injurious to human beings or other living creatures or plants or property or environment;

 

Effects of air pollution on human beings

Hydrocarbons emitted by automobiles are toxic and react with hemoglobin in the blood. The effect of nitrogen is adverse and permanent. It increases children’s susceptibility to diseases like influenza. Sulphur dioxide in the air spreads air acidity and corrodes buildings. It causes irritation to various parts of the respiratory systems.

The heart may be damaged by air pollution, secondary to lung diseases. Nitrogen dioxide results in pulmonary edema and aggravation of coronary disease. Toxic effects of lead pollution include impaired IQ development defects in children. These are few of the many effects of air pollution on human beings.

 

Functions: Central and State Boards

Both the Central and State Pollution Boards have been established for prevention and control of air pollution.

POWERS AND FUNCTIONS OF CENTRAL BOARD:

  1. The main functions of the Central Board shall be to improve the quality of air and to prevent, control or abate air pollution in the country.
  2. It may:
    1. advise the Central Government on any matter concerning the improvement of the quality of air and the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution;
    2. plan and cause to be executed a nation-wide programme for the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution;
  • co-ordinate the activities of the State and resolve disputes among them;
  1. provide technical assistance and guidance to the State Boards, carry out and sponsor investigations and research relating to problems of air pollution and prevention, control or abatement of air pollution;

(dd) perform such of the function of any State Board as may, be specified in and order made under sub-section (2) of section 18;

  1. plan and organise the training of persons engaged or to be engaged in programmes for the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution on such terms and conditions as the Central Board may specify;
  2. organise through mass media a comprehensive programme regarding the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution;
  • collect, compile and publish technical and statistical data relating to air pollution and the measures devised for its effective prevention, control or abatement and prepare manuals, codes or guides relating to prevention, control or abatement of air pollution;
  • lay down standards for the quality of air,
  1. collect and disseminate information in respect of matters relating to air pollution;
  2. perform such other functions as may be prescribed.
  1. The Central Board may establish or recognise a laboratory or laboratories to enable the Central Board to perform its functions under this section efficiently.

 

FUNCTIONS OF STATE BOARDS

  1. The functions of a State Board shall be-
    1. to plan a comprehensive programme for the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution and to secure the execution thereof-,
    2. to advise the State Government on any matter concerning the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution;
  • to collect and disseminate information relating to air pollution;
  1. to collaborate with the Central Board in organising the training of persons engaged or to be engaged in programmes relating to prevention, control or abatement of air pollution and to organise mass-education programme relating thereto;
  2. to inspect, at all reasonable times, any control equipment, industrial plant or manufacturing process and to give, by order, such directions to such persons as it may consider necessary to take steps for the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution;
  3. to inspect air pollution control areas at such intervals as it may think necessary, assess the quality of air therein and take steps for the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution in such areas;
  • to lay down, in consultation with the Central Board and having regard to the standards for the quality of air laid down by the Central Board, standards for emission of air pollutants into the atmosphere from industrial plants and automobiles or for the discharge of any air pollutant into the atmosphere from any other source whatsoever not being a ship or an aircraft:

Provided that different standards for emission may be laid down under this clause for different industrial plants having regard to the quantity and composition of emission of air pollutants into the atmosphere from such industrial plants;

  • to advise the State Government with respect to the suitability of any premises or location for carrying on any industry, which is likely to cause, air pollution;
  1. to Perform such other functions as may be prescribed or as may, from time to time, be entrusted to it by the Central Board or the State Government;
  2. to do such other things and to perform such other acts as it may think necessary for the proper discharge of its functions and generally for the purpose of carrying into effect the purposes of this Act.

Power to Declare Air Pollution Control Areas

  1. The State Government may, after consultation with the State Board, by notification in the Official Gazette declare in such manner as may be prescribed, any area or areas within the State as air pollution control area or areas for the purposes of this Act.
  2. The State government may, after consultation with the State Board, by notification in the Official Gazette,-
    1. alter any air pollution control area whether by way of extension or reduction;
    2. declare a new air pollution control area in which may be merged one or more existing air pollution control areas or any part or parts thereof.
  3. If the State Government, after consultation with the State Board, is of opinion that the use of any fuel, other than an approved fuel, in any air pollution control area or part thereof, may cause or is likely to cause air pollution, it may, by notification in the Official Gazette, prohibit the use of such fuel in such area or part thereof with effect from such date (being not less than three months from the date of publication of the notification) as may be specified in the notification.
  4. The State Government may, after consultation with the Sate Board, by notification in the Official Gazette, direct that with effect from such date as may be specified therein, no appliance, other than an approved appliance, shall be used in the premises situated in an air pollution control area:

Provided that different dates may be specified for different parts of an air pollution control area or for the use of different appliances.

  1. If the State Government, after consultation with the State Board, is of opinion that the burning of any material (not being fuel) in any air pollution control area or part thereof may cause or is likely to cause air pollution, it may, by notification in the Official Gazette, prohibit the burning of such material in such area or part thereof.

The ministry of Environment and Forests has vide notifications declared the Union Territories of Delhi, Chandigarh, Dadar and Nagar Haveli and Pondicherry as air pollution control areas.

 

Restrictions

  1. No person shall, without the previous consent of the State Board, establish or operate any industrial plant in an air pollution control area:
  2. An application for consent of the State Board under sub-section (1) shall be accompanied by such fees as may bc prescribed ‘and shall be made in the prescribed form and shall contain the particulars of the industrial plant and such other particulars as may be prescribed:
  3. Provided that where any person, immediately before the declaration of any area as an air pollution control area, operates in such area any industrial plant, such person shall make the application under this sub-section within such period (being not less than three months from the date of such declaration) as may be prescribed and where such person makes such application, he shall be deemed to be operating such industrial plant with the consent of the State Board until the consent applied for has been refused,
  4. The State Board may make such inquiry as it may deem fit in respect of the application for consent and in making any such inquiry, shall follow such procedure as may be prescribed.
  5. Within a period of four months after the receipt of the application for consent referred to in sub-section (1), the State Board shall, by order in writing, grant the consent applied for subject to such conditions and for such period as may be specified in the order, or refuse consent
  6. It shall be open to the State Board to cancel such consent before the expiry of the period for which it is granted or refuse further consent after such expiry if the conditions subject to which such consent has been granted are not fulfilled:

Provided further that before canceling consent or refusing a further consent under the first provision, a reasonable opportunity of being heard shall be given to the person concerned.

  1. Every person to whom consent has been granted by the State Board shall comply with the following conditions, namely-
    1. the control equipment of such specifications as the State Board may approve in this behalf shall be installed and operated in the premises where the industry is carried on or proposed to be carried on;
    2. the existing control equipment, if any, shall be altered or replaced in accordance with the directions of the State Board;
  • the control equipment referred to in clause (i) or clause (ii) shall be kept at all times in good running condition;
  1. (iv) chimney, wherever necessary, of such specifications as the State Board may approve in this behalf shall be erected or re-erected in such premises; .and
  2. such other conditions as the State Board, may specify in this behalf,the conditions referred to in clauses (i), (ii) and (iv) shall be complied with within such period as the State Board may specify in this behalf-

Provided that in the case of a person operating any industrial plant in an air pollution control area immediately before the date of declaration of such area as an air pollution control area, the period so specified shall not be less than six months:

 

Provided further that-

  • after the installation of any control equipment in accordance with the specifications under clause (i), or
  • after the alteration or replacement of any control equipment in accordance with the directions of the State Board under clause (ii), or
  • after the erection or re-erection of any chimney under clause (iv), no control equipment or chimney shall be altered or replaced or, as the case may be, erected or re-created except with the previous approval of the State Board.
  1. If due to any technological improvement or otherwise the State Board is of opinion that all or any of the conditions referred to in sub-section (5) require or requires variation (including the change of any control equipment, either in whole or in part), the State Board shall, after giving the person to whom consent has been granted an opportunity of being heard, vary all or any of such conditions and thereupon such person shall be bound to comply with the conditions as so varied.
  2. Where a person to whom consent has been granted by the State Board under sub-section (4) transfers his interest in the industry to any other person, such consent shall be deemed to have been granted to such other person and he shall be bound to comply with all the conditions subject to which it was granted as if the consent was granted to him originally.

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