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Environmental Protection Laws in India

Updated: Jan 29, 2022

Environment laws deal with the protection of the environment and its various resources. It is essential for every nation to protect its natural resources from overconsumption and pollution and to adhere to international standards of environmental norms and regulations.

The Constitution of India has recognised the protection of the environment as one of the fundamental duties of every citizen. Article 51(A) It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures; For the states, it is recognised as a duty under the Directive Principles of State Policy Article 48A. Protection and improvement of environment and safeguarding of forests and wildlife The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country.

There is also a portfolio for Environment in the parliament, that is Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, which is responsible for planning, promoting, coordinating, and overseeing the implementation of environmental and forestry programmes in the country. The broad objectives of the Ministry are Conservation and survey of flora, fauna, forests and wildlife, Prevention and control of pollution, Afforestation and regeneration of degraded areas, Protection of the environment and Ensuring the welfare of animals.

In India, they are various legislations that deal with the protection of the environment. Each legislation deals with a specific category of environmental issues. The important legislations for environment protection in India are as follows:

The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010: The National Green Tribunal Act is a specialised judicial body equipped with expertise solely for the purpose of adjudicating environmental cases in the country.

The Tribunal is tasked with providing an effective and expeditious remedy in cases relating to environmental protection, conservation of forests and other natural resources and enforcement of any legal right relating to the environment. The Tribunal’s orders are binding and it has the power to grant relief in the form of compensation and damages to affected persons.

According to National Crime Records Bureau report 2020, the major environmental offences were registered under the below categories:

  • The Forest Act and The Forest Conservation Act

  • The Wildlife Protection Act

  • The Environmental Protection Act 1986

  • The Air and The Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act

  • The Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act

  • Noise Pollution Acts and National Green Tribunal Act

There were 34,676 environmental cases registered in 2020 and 61,767 registered in 2021. Major offences registered in 2020 were under The Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act, Noise Pollution Act and The Forest Act & The Forest Conservation Act.


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