Powers And Functions Of Central And State Boards For Prevention And Control Of Water Pollution

Introduction

Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, as the name suggests, is an Act enacted with the objective to prevent water pollution and help control it by holding accountability to the ones causing it. For this specific purpose, the Act not only specifies provisions to be followed to prevent water pollution but also specifies the penalties to be awarded upon violation of the said legal provisions.

To implement these provisions and to follow through the plans for the prevention and control of water pollution, the Act establishes Boards at both State and National level that may advise their respective level government on any matter concerning the improvement of the quality of water and prevention, control and abatement of air pollution. These Boards are mostly known as Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) at the National level and State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) at the State level. The primary objective of both the Boards is to provide for the prevention, control and abatement of pollution and Acts like these empower them with certain functions and power to implement these functions after their establishment.

Since the Water Pollution Act was one of the first environmental-based Acts in India, many of the latter enacted environmental Acts were based on this one and thus, share the same constituency of Boards and committees with this Act. In a nutshell, the Boards are common for all such Acts. However, the functions and powers of both the Boards differ for each Act; thus, the Water pollution Act grants it different power than other Acts do. In this article, we’ll discuss about that.

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Functions of Boards

The section 16 and section 17 of the Water Pollution Act lays down the functions of the Central and State Boards, respectively. On the basis of these Sections, the functions are given as follows:

Central Board

  • To advise the Central government on matters regarding water pollution;
  • To help the State Boards and cooperate with them in case of nationwide programmes as well as resolve disputes among them;
  • To promote cleanliness of rivers, ponds, wells and other water bodies in different regions of the nation;
  • To organise comprehensive programmes for awareness of water pollution and how to prevent or control it through media;
  • To establish and lay down standards for water bodies in various regions;
  • To establish codes, guides and manuals for treatment and disposal of pollutants like sewage water or industrial effluents in water or land;
  • To provide technical assistance and guidance to the State Boards in regard to carry out research and inspection;
  • To train people to engage in activities that help in pollution control and prevention;
  • To set up or recognize laboratories for analysis of water samples from any water bodies for pollutants.

State Boards

  • To advise the State government on matters regarding water pollution;
  • To help the Central Board in case of nationwide programmes and training people to engage in activities that help in pollution control and prevention;
  • To perform functions that are entrusted by Central Board or State governments;
  • To plan programmes for prevention and control of water pollutions in water bodies;
  • To inspect and investigate wastewater treatment plants and water effluents;
  • To establish standards for the sewage and water effluents;
  • To conduct and help to investigate and to research different aspects of water pollution and ways to prevent them;
  • To establish and help evolve reliable methods of treatment and disposal of wastewater from agriculture as well as industrial sector;
  • To establish standards and methods of discharging treated wastewater into any stream or river;
  • To set up or recognize laboratories for analysis of water samples from any water bodies for pollutants.

Power of Boards

The sections 18 to 33 of the Water Pollution Act lay down the powers of the Central and State Boards and on the basis of these Sections, the powers are given as below:

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Central Board

  • To give direction to the State Boards;
  • To provide guidance and technical help to the State Boards;
  • To perform the functions of a State Board in case of non-compliance with the Central Board regarding any issue on water pollution;
  • To advise the Central government on matters regarding water pollution or water quality/standards;
  • To prescribe standards for water quality of various water bodies around the nation;
  • To train, aware and disseminate information and planning regarding nationwide programmes for prevention and control of water pollution.

State Board

  • To obtain information for the purpose of performing the State Board’s functions listed under this Act by the Board itself or any person/official authorised by the Board;
  • To take samples of water from any water body for the analysis regarding the quality of water and amount of pollutants in the water;
  • To enter and inspect any place for the purpose of performance of the functions of the Board by any person/official authorised by the Board;
  • To impose restriction on any disposal of pollutants into water bodies to prevent and control water pollution;
  • To refuse or withdraw consent for an industry on the basis of the report stating their violation or refusal to follow the provisions mentioned under this Act. The State Board has the right to consent as well.
  • To carry out any work or act for the performance of functions listed under this Act;
  • To carry out emergency operations in case of any report on pollution of streams or rivers or any water body still being continued or on-going;
  • To apply to Courts for the restriction of any plant/industry or violator in regard to the apprehended pollution of water in streams, rivers or wells;
  • To give directions for the prohibition, regulation or closure of any operation, plant, industry, process or regulation of any service like water, electricity, etc for the purpose of performing the State Board’s functions listed under this Act.
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References

  • Bare Act of Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
  • Krishan Keshav, ‘Law and Environment’, Singhal Law Publications
  • Gurdip Singh, ‘Environmental Law in India’, MacMillan Publisher

Author: Debapriya Biswas,
Amity Law School, Noida (2nd year)

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