The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974

Water Act 1974
Clean Drinking Water!!!

Published on 01/07/2011

First Update 29/03/2017

The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 is a Central Act of Parliament which provides for the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution and the maintaining or restoring of wholesomeness of water. It also provides for the establishment of the Boards for the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution section 3&4 and for assigning to such Boards, Powers (Sections 18,19,20,21,23,30,33,33A of Water Act) and functions (Sections 16,17 of Water Act)

The Act provides that no person shall discharge any sewage or trade effluents  beyond the standards as prescribed by the Board into any stream, river, well or on land. It also provides that no person shall knowingly  cause an impediment in the flow of any stream which may lead to aggravation of Pollution (Section 24).

The Act establishes a mechanism of consent wherein a consent to establish (Section-25) has to be obtained from the Pollution Control Board for establishing or  taking steps to establish any industry, operation or process or any treatment and disposal system which is likely to discharge sewage or trade effluents into a stream, river, well or land or to begin to make a new discharge of sewage or alter the existing discharge. A consent to operate has to be obtained for existing facilities (Section-26). The consent unless given or refused earlier be deemed to have been given unconditionally on the expiry of a period of four months of making a complete application to the Board along with the prescribed fees (Section 25, 26 Water Act). The act provides for an appellate Authority to address to grievances against orders made by the Board under section 25/26 and 27. Such appeals have to be filed within 30 days but give the power to the Authority to hear the cases even after 30 days if satisfied about the reasons for delay (Section 28).

Where certain works prescribed under Section-25 and 26 are to be executed for the prevention of pollution by any person and the 04 person fails to execute these works the Board may get the works executed and recover the amount so spent along with interest as arrears of land revenue (Section 30 Water Act).

The Board has been empowered to make applications to courts for restraining pollution. The courts may in turn redirect the person to take necessary action or authorize the Board to undertake the mitigation works. Expenses incurred by the Board are recoverable from the concerned person as arrears of land revenue. (Section 33 of Water Act). A board may also issue directions which may include the directions to close prohibit or regulate any industry, operation or process or the stoppage or regulations of supply of electricity, water or any other services. (Section 33A)

Failure to provide information as sought under Section-20 is punishable with imprisonment  for a period up to 3 months or with fine which may extend to 10000 rupees or with both and in case the default continues with a fine which may extend to 5000 Rs. for every day during which such failure continues. Failure to comply with directions issued under section 32 or 33 (A), would be punishable with imprisonment for a term extending from 18 months to 72 months and with fine. Continued failure to comply invites  a fine of Rs. 5000 for every day to a period of 1 year beyond which it is punishable with an imprisonment of 24 months to 84 months and with fine (Section 41).

Destruction, obstruction, damage to Board property, not furnishing information or providing false information, tempering of diaries etc. is punishable with imprisonment which may extend to 3 months or with fine which may extend to Rs. 10,000 or with both. (Section 42).

Discharging effluents beyond standards prescribed by the Board or establishing any industry, operations or process likely to generate effluent or continuing to use an outlet without the consent of the Board shall be punishable with imprisonment ranging from 18 months to 72 months and with fine. Continued contravention invites an enhancement penalty of 24 months to 84 months of imprisonment and with fine. (Section 43, 44)

Provisions for sampling have been provided under section 21. Samples on the request of the occupier have to be divided into two, one part analysed by the Board laboratory and the other part by the reference laboratory designated as the State Water laboratory (Section 21)

Apart from the Pollution Control Boards, any person who has given a notice of not less than 60 days to the Pollution Control Board, of his intention to do so can make an application to the Court not inferior to that of a Metropolitan Magistrate or a Judicial Magistrate of first class (Section 49).

The State Government and the Central Pollution Control Boards can issue directions to the State Pollution Control Boards (Section18)

Standards published by the Central Government under the EP Act cannot be relaxed by the State Board but can be made more stringent.

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