This act was promulgated in 1986. It is, therefore, known as the environment (Protection) Act, 1986.


The Environmental Protection Act, 1986 (EPA) was passed with the following objects:

(i) It was enacted to implement the decisions which were made at the United Nation Conference on the Human Environment held at Stockholm in June 1972.

(ii) Creation of authority for government protection.

(iii) Coordinating the activities of various regulating agencies which is done under the existing law.

(iv) The main task is to enact general laws for environmental protection, which could be unfolded in areas of severe environmental hazards.

(v) Providing deterrent punishment to those who inculcate in endangering the human environment, safety and health.

(vi) The main goal for the environment should be sustainable development and it can be regarded as one of the goals for Environment Protection Act, 1986.

(vii) Sustainable development includes achieving the object and the purpose of the act as well as the protection of life under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

Scope and commencement of the Act

The Environment Protection Act, 1986 extends to whole India and it came into force on 19th November.

Section 2 of the Environmental protection Act, 1986 (EPA) deals with some of the information about the definition of the Act and these definitions are as follows:

“Environment” the word environment includes water, air, land and also the inter-relation between their existence. It also includes human beings and other living creatures such as plants, micro-organisms and property.

“Environmental Pollutants” means any substance in solid, liquid or gaseous form which in consideration is injurious to the health of living beings.

“Handling” means any substance which is in the relation of being manufactured, processed, collected, used, offered for sale or like of such substance.

“Environmental Pollution” includes the presence of environmental pollutants in the environment.

“Hazardous substance” includes the substance or the preparation by which the physical-chemical property is liable to harm the human beings or other living creatures such as plants, microorganisms and the property.

“Occupier” is in the relation of factory or any other premises which means a person who has control over the affairs of it.

General Powers of the Central Government

 For the protection and improvement of environment, and for the prevention, control and abatement of pollution, the Central Govt. has the power to take the following measures under section 3. 1.

  • Coordination of actions by the State Government Officers and other authorities under this Act and under any other related law.
  • Planning and execution  of a nationwide programme to  prevent control and abate environmental pollution.
  • Laying down the standards for different aspects of environmental quality.
  • Laying down the standards for emission or discharge of environmental pollutions from various sources.
  • Restricting the areas in which industries, operations of processes shall not be carried out.
  • Laying down procedures and safeguards for handling of hazardous substances for prevention of accidents causing environmental pollution and remedial measures
  • Examination of manufacturing processes, materials and substances likely to cause environmental pollution.
  • Carrying out and sponsoring investigations and research in environmental pollution problem.
  • Inspection of any premises, plant, manufacturing process, equipment or machinery and giving directions to prevent, control and abate environmental pollution.
  • Establishment and recognition of environmental laboratories and Institutes.
  • Preparation of manuals codes or guides to disseminate collected information in matters relating to environmental pollution and its prevention, control and abatement.
  • Any matter, necessary or expedient for the implementation of the provisions of this act.
  • If necessary, the Central may constitute an authority for the purpose of performing such functions and powers of Central Government under Section 4.2 of this Act.

To regulate environmental pollution under Section 6.3, the Central Government may, by notification in the official gazette, make rules in respect of all or any of the matters referred to in Section 3 above, from (a) to (m).

Penalty for  the Contravention of Rules and orders of this Act

As it was stated earlier that the most important goal of the environmental protection act is to provide for the punishment of the offence of endangering the human environment, safety and health.

Section 15 states that any person who is not complying to the provisions stated in this act and its failure or contravention will make him liable and punishable as the following:

  1. In terms of imprisonment up to the extension of the time span of five years.
  2. With fine which may extend to the term of one lakh rupee.
  3. Or the liable person has to deal with both of the punishments.
  4. If the contravention of the offence that continues for one year, the punishment can extend up to seven years.

Section 24  a provision that if any offence is punishable under the Environment Protection Act and also under other Act, then the person shall not be liable under the Environment Protection Act, 1986.

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