Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has sought feedback from stakeholders as it proposed to decriminalise the existing provisions of the Environment Protection Act, 1986.


What are the proposals?

  • The ministry has proposed to replace imprisonment with monetary penalty for the “less severe” contraventions under the EPA, which will also be decriminalised.
  • However, serious violations of EPA which lead to grievous injury or loss of life shall be covered under the provision of Indian Penal Code.
  • The amendments also propose the creation of an “Environmental Protection Fund’’ in which the amount of penalty will be remitted.


About the Environment Protection Act, 1986

  • Enacted under Article 253 of the Constitution, the Environment Protection Act, 1986 provides for the protection and improvement of environment.
        • Article 253 empowers the Parliament to make any law for the whole or any part of the territory of India for implementing any treaty, agreement or convention with any other country or countries or any decision made at any international conference, association or other body.
        • It was enacted to implement the decisions made at the Stockholm Conference.
  • The Act establishes the framework for studying, planning and implementing long-term requirements of environmental safety.
  • It lays down a system of speedy and adequate response to situations threatening the environment.
  • It is an umbrella legislation designed to provide a framework for the coordination of central and state authorities established under the Water Act, 1974 and the Air Act, 1981.
  • The term “environment” is understood in a very wide term under section 2(a) of the Environment Act.
        • It includes water, air and land as well as the interrelationship which exists between water, air and land, and human beings, other living creatures, plants, micro-organisms and property.


General powers of the Central Government

  • Under the Environment Act, the Central Government is empowered to take measures necessary for —
      • protecting and improving the quality of environment by setting standards for emissions and discharges of pollution in the atmosphere by any person carrying on an industry or activity;
      • regulating the location of industries;
      • management of hazardous wastes, and protection of public health and welfare.
      • From time to time, the Central Government issues notifications under the Environment Act for the protection of ecologically-sensitive areas or issues guidelines for matters under the Act.


Punishment under the act

  • In case of any non-compliance or contravention of the Act, or of the rules or directions under the said Act, the violator will be punishable with imprisonment up to five years or with fine up to Rs 1,00,000, or with both.
  • In case of continuation of such violation, an additional fine of up to Rs 5,000 for every day during which such failure or contravention continues after the conviction for the first such failure or contravention, will be levied.
  • Further, if the violation continues beyond a period of one year after the date of conviction, the offender shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years.