Remember those days in school where we were forced to study Environmental Studies, and we hated it to the core? Have you ever thought why so? Of course, we were kids back then. We did not understand the importance of saving our environment. As we grow up, we realize how vital it is to save the environment around us and make it a healthy place for living. We as individuals make up a very small part of the change.
Then who is it that constitutes the rest of it? The government, of course. What does our government do to protect our surroundings and to maintain the balance of nature?
The Article 48A of the Indian Constitution is an example of the numerous efforts the Government puts in to maintain the balance of nature. Article 48A goes as, “Protection and improvement of environment and safeguarding of forests and wildlife- the State shall endeavor to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country”. When the Government takes such a measure, it is important for us to be responsible citizens and help the Government achieve these goals.
It is known to each and every citizen of India that the Article 51A of the Indian Constitution deals with the Fundamental Duties every citizen has to follow. Article 51A(g) reads: “To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, rivers, lakes and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures.” This clause of the article tells us that we should protect our environment. The environmental degradation issues are endless- pollutions, global warming and what not? We all have to take up this duty to save our rich heritage.
The Government has not limited its responsibilities to these two articles. It has responsibly passed three Acts that ensure the protection and improvement and betterment of the environment as a whole. We all have heard about the Water Act of 1974, the Air Act of 1981 and the Environmental Protection Act of 1986, haven’t we? But what do we know about these acts? These are not just mere Acts; these are huge measures taken by the Government to make our lives healthy. Let us know in details about each of these 3 acts.
1. Water (prevention and control of pollution) Act (1974)
This act, as the name suggests was introduced to deal with the solutions to water pollution. The level to which water is being polluted is increasing at an alarming rate. So the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) was formed to make sure and take care of the cleanliness of water bodies in different states. This Board has several functions that deal with this serious issue, some of which are:
a) it has to advise the Central Government on any matter that deals with the prevention and control of water pollution
b) it has to plan and execute a nation-wide programme to prevent water pollution
c) it has to coordinate the activities of different state governments in matters relating to water pollution and solve the disputes among them if any
d) it has to organize a comprehensive programme through mass media about water pollution and its solutions
e) it has to guide and provide technical assistance to State Boards in matters regarding water pollution; it also has to sponsor and carry out research and investigations to find possible solutions to water pollution
f) it has to establish or recognize an already existing laboratory that would analyse water samples
g) it has to prepare codes, manuals or guides about the treatment of sewage and trade effluents
h) it has to plan and evolve economical and effective methods of treatment of sewage and trade effluents
2. Air (Prevention and control of pollution) Act (1981)
This act was set up and enacted by the Parliament in 1981 to deal with the increase in the rate of air pollution. Again the role of CPCB comes into play here, which has to carry out several functions in the abatement of air pollution. Some of CPCB’s functions in abatement of air pollution are:
a) it has to advise the Central Government on the matter regarding the improvement of the quality of the air we breathe in and in matters about the prevention of air pollution
b) it has to plan and execute nation-wide programmes to control and prevent air pollution
c) it has to coordinate the activities of the state government in matters regarding air pollution and solve the disputes among them if any
d) it has to provide technical assistance to the State Boards; carry out and sponsor investigations and research to find possible solutions to air pollution
e) it has to collect, compile and publish data showing the technical and statistical data relating to matters of air pollution
F) it has to prepare manuals, codes and guides that would guide to the abatement of air pollution.
g) the Board may delegate any of its functions under this Act to any of the committees it has appointed
h) it may be law down the standards for the quality of air
Environmental Protection Act (1986)
This act was enacted by the Government in 1986 to provide for the protection of the environmental, maintain the ecological balance, improve the environmental quality and reduce air pollution in every possible way. The Central Government has several powers and responsibilities under this act, which follow as:
a) it obviously has to coordinate the actions of the State Government
b) it has to lay down standards for the environmental quality in various aspects
c) it has to lay down standards for the emission or discharge of pollutants from various sources
D) it has to lay down procedures and guidelines for handling hazardous substances.
E) it has to collect and disseminate any information regarding matters of environmental pollution
f) it has to restrict areas in which industries and their operations and processes shall not be carried out, and if carried out, the Board should lay down certain guidelines
g) it has to examine the manufacturing processes, materials and substances that are likely to cause pollution
h) it has to carry our and sponsor investigation and researches relating to problems of environmental pollution.
All said and done; we cannot thank our Government enough for introducing these amazing measures to ensure a healthy living for all of us. Time for us to implement our duties as responsible citizens.