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  • 07 July, 2022

  • 8 Min Read



Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has proposed the amendments in the Environment Protection Act, 1986.

The Environment Ministry has proposed to levy more fines and less imprisonment for environmental violations.

Present Clause in the Act:

  • Currently the act says that the violators will be punishable with imprisonment up to five years or with a fine up to one lakh or, both.
  • If the violation continues, an additional fine of up to 5000 for every single day during which such failure or contravention continues after the conviction was levied.
  • Even there is also a provision for a jail term that can be extended up to seven years.

Key amendments proposed in the Environmental Protection Act,1986

  • Decriminalization of the existing provisions of the EPA, 1986 to remove the fear of imprisonment for simple violations has been proposed by the Ministry.
  • It included the removal of imprisonment as a penalty for the "less severe’’ contraventions. Imprisonment will be replaced with one that only requires them to pay a fine.
  • The proposed fine, instead of imprisonment, are 5-500 time greater than those currently levied.
  • The serious violations of EPA which lead to grievous injury /loss of life shall be covered under the provision of the Indian Penal Code.
  • Instead of imprisonment, the amendments propose the creation of an Environmental Protection Fund in which the amount of penalty imposed by the Adjudicating Officer after adjudicating the damage to the environment shall be remitted.
  • The Central Government may prescribe how the Protection Fund shall be administered.
  • The removal of the prison term also applies to the Air act, which is the cornerstone legislation for dealing with air pollution, and the Water act which deals with violation of rules regarding water bodies.

The rationale behind the proposal:

  • To weed out fear of imprisonment for simple violations.
  • According to the Center for Science and Environment, the Indian courts took between 9-33 years to clear a backlog of cases for environmental violations.
  • In the starting of 2018, more than 45,000 cases were pending for trial and another 35,000 cases were added in that year, more than 90% of cases were pending for trial in five of the seven environment laws.


  • Increased fines can promote environmental protection and could also take care of public health from the toxicity produced by harmful human activity.
  • It will also help in the reduction of waste produced daily.
  • It will help to fight all types of pollution like air, water, land, soil, etc

Environmental Protection act 1986

The EPA came into force on November 19, 1986. The act establishes the framework for studying, planning, and implementing long-term requirements of environmental safety and laying down a system of speedy and adequate response to situations threatening the environment.

Objective: To provide the protection and improvement of the environment.


The main roots of the enactment of the EPA lie in the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm in June 1972, which is also known as the Stockholm Conference, in which India participated, to take appropriate steps for the improvement of the environment.

The Environment Protection Act implements the decisions and the point made at the Stockholm Conference.

Constitutional Provisions:

The EPA Act was enacted under:

  • Article 253 of the Indian Constitution provides for the enactment of legislation for giving effect to international agreements.
  • Article 48A of the Indian Constitution specifies that the State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country.
  • Article 51A further provides that every citizen shall protect the environment.

Powers of the Central Government:

  • EPA empowers the Central Government to establish authorities charged with the mandate of preventing environmental pollution in all its forms and tackling specific environmental problems that are peculiar to different parts of the country.
  • It authorizes the Central Government to Plan and executes a nationwide program for the prevention, control, and abatement of environmental pollution.
  • The Central Government also lay down standards for the quality of the environment in its various aspects like emission or discharge of environmental pollutants from various sources.
  • The Central government as per the Act has the power to direct the closure, prohibition, or regulation of any industry, operation, or process.
  • The act was last amended in the year 1991.

What is the drawback of the Environment Protection Act 1986??

  • Complete Centralization of the Act

A main drawback of the Act is its centralization. The vital powers are provided to the Centre and no powers are given to the state governments, which might end up in arbitrariness and vague decisions.

  • No Public Participation
  • The Act is also silent about public participation as regards environmental protection.
  • There is no provision for actively involving the citizens in environmental protection, checking arbitrariness and raising awareness and empathy towards the environment.

Environment protection must consider local people in its ambit as they are directly linked to its protection, conservation, and repercussion that arises due to neglect and loopholes in the legislation.

Source: The Hindu

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