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The Air Prevention And Control of Pollution Act, 1981

The first measure to control pollution was the Water Act, 1974. After seven years of gap government further realized that there is air pollution as well and for that purpose, the government enacted the Air Act, 1981. The Air Act is based on the same line as the Water Act. Air Act, 1981 was enacted under Article 253 of the Constitution of India. It was a result of an international commitment made by India in the Stockholm Conference.  The focus of this Act is air pollution. The Act provides for the prevention, control, and abatement of Air Pollution. The government has the power to establish the board for the purpose of implementing the objectives of this Act.

Air pollution is a type of pollution. Section 2(b) defines Air Pollution to mean the presence in the atmosphere of any air pollutant. Air pollutant is defined under section 2(a) as any solid, liquid, or gaseous substance [(including noise)] present in the atmosphere in such concentration as may be or tend to be injurious to human beings or other living creatures or plants or property or environment.

Implementation Mechanism

For the implementation of the objectives of Act, the Act provides for the establishment of Central and State Pollution Control Boards under section 3 and 4, respectively. The Central Pollution Control Board constituted under Sec. 3 of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 (6 of 1974), shall, without prejudice to the exercise and performance of its powers and functions under that Act, exercise the powers and perform the functions of the Central Pollution Control Board for the prevention and control of air pollution under this Act.

Section 5 provides for constitution of State Boards-

  1. In any State in which the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution), Act 1974, is not in force or that Act is in force but the State Government has not constituted a [State Pollution Control Board] under that Act, the State Government shall, with effect from such date as it may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint, constitute a State Board for the Prevention and Control of Air Pollution under such name as may be specified in the notification, to exercise the powers conferred on, and perform the functions assigned to that Board under this Act.
     
  2. A State Board constituted under this Act shall consist of the following members, namely; 
    (a) A Chairman, being a person having special knowledge or practical experience in respect of matters relating to environmental protection to be nominated by the State Government: Provided that the Chairman may be either whole-time or part-time as the State Government may think fit;
    (b) Such number of officials, not exceeding five, as the State Government may think fit, to be nominated by the State Government to represent that Government; 
    (c) such number of persons, not exceeding five, as the State Government may think fit, to be nominated by the State Government from amongst the members of the local authorities functioning within the State; 
    (d) such number of non-officials, not exceeding three, as the State Government may think fit to be nominated by the State Government to represent the interests of agriculture, fishery or industry or trade or labour or any other interest, which in the opinion of that Government, ought to be represented;
    (e) Two persons to represent the companies or corporations owned, controlled or managed by the State Government, to be nominated by that Government;
    (f) A full-time member-secretary having such qualifications, knowledge and experience of scientific, engineering or management aspects of pollution control as may be prescribed, to be appointed by the State Government.

Provided that the State Government shall ensure that not less than two of the members are persons having special knowledge or practical experience in respect of matters relating to the improvement of the quality of air or the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution.

Section 16- function of central board

  1. The main function of the central board is to improve the quality of air and to prevent, control or abate air pollution in the country;
  2. To advise the central government on the matter concerning prevention, control, or abatement of air pollution;
  3. Plan and execute a nation-wide programme for the prevention, control, or abatement of air pollution;
  4. Co-ordinate activities of state board;
  5. To Laydown ambient Air Quality Standards;
  6. To collect, compile and publish technical and statistical data relating to air pollution, measures for prevention and abatement of the same;
  7. To collect and disseminate information pertaining to air pollution;
  8. If the State Boards defaults in complying with the directions of the Central Board and consequently, there arises grave emergency, then in public interest, Central Board may discharge the functions of State Board;
  9. To perform such other functions as may be prescribed from time to time;
Do such other things and perform acts which may be necessary for the proper discharge of its functions and for the purpose of carrying into effect the purposes of this Act.

Section 17- function of State Board

  1. To plan a comprehensive programme for the prevention, control, and abatement of air pollution;
  2. To advise state government on any matter concerning the prevention, control, and abatement of air pollution;
  3. To collect and disseminate information concerning air pollution;
  4. To coordinate and collaborate with Central Board in organizing training of persons engaged in connection with prevention, control and abatement of air pollution;
  5. To advise the State government with respect to the suitability of any premises or location for carrying on any industry which is likely to cause air pollution;
  6. To inspect air control equipment manufacturing plants and to issue appropriate directions concerning prevention, control and abatement of air pollution;
  7. Do such other things and perform acts which may be necessary for the proper discharge of its functions and for the purpose of carrying into effect the purposes of this Act;
  8. To inspect air pollution control areas, assess the quality of air and to take steps for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution;
  9. To lay down, in consultation with Central Board and having regard to ambient air quality standards prescribed by Central Board, standards for emission of air pollutants into the atmosphere by industrial plants and vehicles;
  10. To advise the government regarding the suitability of any premises for the purposes of carrying on of any industry likely to cause air pollution;
  11. To perform such other functions as may be prescribed from time to time.
     
Under section 18 of the Act, the central board is bound by the direction given to it in writing by the central government and the state board is bound by the direction given to it by the central board or state board. If the direction given by the State government is inconsistent with the direction given by the central government then matter shall be referred to the central government for its decisions.

Section 24- power of entry and inspection-

Any person empowered by the state board shall have a right to enter, at all reasonable times, at any place for the purpose of performing the board’s functions, to determine whether functions, rules, orders, notices made or given under the Act is being or has been complied with. It may examine any industrial plant, record, register, document for conducting search of a  place in which he has reason to believe that an offence under this Act has been or is being or is about to be committed and  seize any  industrial plant, record, register, document which may furnish evidence of the commission of an offence.

Written By Sushmita Kumari

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