Published on 06/09/2011
First Update 26/03/2017
The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981
A Summary by Dr. Yashpal Singh and Vinod Dwivedi
The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 is a central Act of Parliament, which provides for the prevention and control of air pollution and maintaining the good quality of air. It has also provided for the establishment of the Central and State Boards for the Prevention and Control of Air Pollution under sections 3 and 4.
According to the Act “Air Pollution means the presence in the atmosphere of any air pollutant”, and “air pollutant’’ means “any solid, liquid or gaseous substance present in the atmosphere in such a concentration as may be or tend to be injurious to human beings or other living creatures or plant or property or environment.”
POWERS AND FUNCTIONS OF BOARDS
Section-16 of this act prescribes the functions of the Central Board and includes giving advise to the Central Government, guidance and technical help to the State Boards, coordinating the activities of the state, training, awareness and dissemination of information and planning a nationwide program for the prevention and control of air pollution. The standards for air quality have also to be prescribed by the Central Board. The Central Board may also establish a laboratory or laboratories to assist it in performing its functions. It may also delegate any of its functions to any committee formed by it for the purpose.
Section17 of the act prescribes functions of the State Boards. It includes training, awareness, planning and executing programs for air pollution control, advising the state government in matters relating to air pollution, collecting and disseminating information, inspecting premises and giving suitable directions for air pollution control, assessing the ambient air quality , laying down emission standards in consultation with the Central Pollution Control Board (Standards prescribed by the Central Government or the Central Pollution Control Board cannot be relaxed by the State Boards, they can only be made more stringent),advising the state government on the suitability of any location for an air polluting industry and setting up or recognizing a laboratoty or laboratories to enable the state board to perform its functions.
Powers to give directions
Under section-18, the written directions given by the Central Government have to be followed by the Central Board. Similarly the written directions given by the State Government have to be followed by the State Board. If the directions given by the State Government do not match with the directions given by the Central Board, then the matter has to be referred to the Central Government for a decision.
PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF AIR POLLUTION
Power to Declare Air Pollution Control Areas:
Under section-19, the State Government may with the help of the State Board declare air pollution control areas, alter any air pollution control area or declare a new air pollution control area after altering the existing areas.
The State Pollution Control Board may also prohibit the burning of any fuel or non fuel material which is likely to cause air pollution or the operation of any appliance which is not an approved appliance in an air pollution control area.
Powers to give Instructions for ensuring Standards for Emission from Automobiles:
Under section-20, the State Government in consultation with the State Board shall, with a view to ensuring compliance to standards prescribed by it with respect to emissions from automobiles, give such instructions as may be deemed necessary to the concerned authority in charge of registration of motor vehicles under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 (Act 4 of 1939), and such authority shall be bound to comply with such instructions.
Restriction on use of Certain Industrial Plant
Section-21 makes a provision of Consent of the State Pollution Control Board for establishing or operating any industrial plant in an air pollution control area. It also lays down procedures for making the application which has to be in the prescribed form and accompanied by such fees as may be prescribed, the manner of inquiry and a time limit of four months within which the consent has either to be granted or refused by the State Board. The consent so granted may be cancelled or refused before the expiry of the period of consent if the conditions are not complied with.
Compliance to prescribed standards
Under Section-22 no person having any industrial plant in an air pollution control area can discharge emissions of any air pollutants in the excess of the standards prescribed by the State Pollution Control Boards
Power of Board to make an application to Court for restraining persons from causing Air Pollution:
Under section-22A, where a violation of the emission standards prescribed by the Board is apprehended the Board may make an application to a court, for restraining such person from emitting such pollutant. The court may issue necessary directions. In case the same are not complied with, by the person, the court may authorize the Board to implement the directions. Costs so incurred by the Board can be recovered as arrears of land revenue.
Power of Entry and Inspection:
Under Section-24, any person authorized by a State Board has a right to enter any place with the objective of performing his duties under the Air(Prevention and Control of Pollution )Act as entrusted to him and shall be provided all assistance by the person operating the plant.
Power to obtain Information:
Under Section-25, the State Board or any officer empowered by the Board has a right to seek information from the occupier or any other person operating the plant (regarding functions as entrusted to the officer in this behalf). He will also have a right to inspect the premises in order to verify the correctness of the information.
Power to take Samples of Air or Emission and Procedures:
Section-26 empowers the State Board or any officer in this behalf to take samples of air or emission from any chimney, flue or duct or any other outlet. It also prescribes the procedure for giving notice, dividing samples into two parts, sending one part to the Board and the other part to the State air laboratory constituted by the state government under section 28 for analysis.
Under Section-31, any person aggrieved by an order made by the State Board under this act may prefer an appeal before the appellate authority constituted by the state government for the purpose. The appeal has to be generally filed within thirty days from the date on which the order is communicated but the appellate authority may entertain the appeal after the expiry of thirty days, if it is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from filing the appeal in time.
Power to Give Directions:
Section-31A empowers the State Pollution Control Boards in the exercise of their powers and performance of functions under this Act to issue any direction in writing to any person, officer or authority. It has also been provided that such person, officer or authority shall be bound to comply with the directions.
The power to issue directions under this section includes the power to direct for the closure, prohibition or regulation of any industry, operation or process or the stoppage or regulation of supply of electricity, water or any other services.
PENALTIES AND PROCEDURE
Failure to comply with the Provisions 21 or Section 22 or both with the Directions Issued under section-31
Under Section-37, whoever fails to comply, with the provisions of section-21 or section-22 or directions issued under section-31A, shall in respect of each such failure, be punishable with imprisonment, which shall not be less than one year and six months, but which may extend to six years and with fine and in case of failure continues, with an additional fine of five thousand rupees every day.
Penalties for Certain Acts:
Under Section-38, any person who damages any works or property belonging to the Board, or any notice or other matter put up under the authority of the Board, furnishes false information, fails to inform violation or apprehension of violation of standards or makes a false statement for the purpose of obtaining any consent under section 21, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months or with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees or both.
Penalty for Contravention of Certain Provisions of the Act:
Under Section-39, any order or direction issued under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act for which no penalty has been provided elsewhere in this Act, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months or with fine of ten thousand rupees or both and in case of failure continues, with an additional fine of five thousand rupees every day.
Offences by Companies:
Under Section-40, every person who, at the time of offence was committed, was directly in charge of, and was responsible to, the company for the conduct of the business of the company, as well as the company, shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly in this act prescribed.
For the purpose of this section:
(a) “Company” means any body corporate and includes a firm or other association of individuals; and
(b) “Director”, in relation to a firm, means a partner in the firm.
Offences by Government Departments:
Under Section-41, where an offence under this Act has been committed be any Department of Government, the head of the Department or any other officer responsible by way of consent, connivance or neglect shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.