History

India participated in the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm in June 1972 to take appropriate steps for the preservation of the natural resources of the earth which, among other things, include the preservation of the quality of air and control of air pollution. Based on the concluding guidelines of this conference, the Air Act was formulated by the government of India in 1981.

The Air Act (1981)

This is an Act to provide for the prevention and control and abatement of air pollution through various management guidelines and restrictions. One of the prime objectives of this act is carrying out the purposes mentioned above by assigning a set of responsibilities, powers, and functions to the Boards for the prevention and control of air pollution.

The act was introduced and incorporated into the Constitution of India in 1981 laying down guidelines for the preservation of the quality of air and control of air pollution. In contrast to the water act of 1974 which covers only 13 states and union territories of India, the air act extends to the whole of India.

Central & State Pollution Control Boards (PCBs)

Under this act, one Central board and numerous State boards shall be appointed by notification in the Official Gazette called Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) respectively with effect from a date not later than six months of the commencement of this Act.
The Central Board for the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution that was formed in 1974 post the signing off the water act shall exercise the powers and perform the functions of the Central Board for the Prevention and Control of Air Pollution under this Act.
The State Boards shall investigate, assess, and monitor the issues of concern regarding the quality and pollution of the water resources available in their jurisdiction and shall report the same through quarterly and annual reports during board meetings to the Central Board. The Central Board hereby shall look into the State Board’s reports and also monitor and handle major issues regarding national water resources.

The composition of Central Board

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) once appointed, should consist of the following key members.
  • A full-time chairman: A person having special knowledge or practical experience in respect of matters relating to environmental protection having knowledge and experience in administering institutions dealing with such matters, to be nominated by the Central Government
  • A full-time member-secretary: Possessing qualifications, knowledge, and experience of scientific, engineering or management aspects of pollution control, to be appointed by the Central Government.
  • Not more than 5 officials to be nominated by the Central Government to represent that Government.
  • Not more than 5 officials to be nominated by the Central Government, from amongst the members of the State Boards.
  • Not more than 3 officials to be nominated by the Central Government, to represent the interests of agriculture, fishery or industry or trade or any other interest which, in the opinion of the Central Government, ought to be represented.
  • 2 persons to represent the companies or corporations owned, controlled or managed by the Central Government, to be nominated by that Government.

The composition of State Board

The State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) once appointed, should consist of the following key members.
  • A full-time chairman: A person having special knowledge or practical experience in respect of matters relating to environmental protection having knowledge and experience in administering institutions dealing with such matters, to be nominated by the State Government
  • A full-time member-secretary: Possessing qualifications, knowledge, and experience of scientific, engineering or management aspects of pollution control, to be appointed by the State Government.
  • Not more than 5 officials to be nominated by the State Government to represent that Government.
  • Not more than 5 officials to be nominated by the State Government, from amongst the members of the local authorities functioning within the state.
  • Not more than 3 officials to be nominated by the State Government, to represent the interests of agriculture, fishery or industry or trade or any other interest which, in the opinion of the Central Government, ought to be represented.
  • 2 persons to represent the companies or corporations owned, controlled or managed by the State Government, to be nominated by that Government.

Service of board members

There are a set of terms and conditions regarding the services of the members of the boards under the Water Act. The most important ones are as follows:

  • A member of a Board (other than a member-secretary) shall hold office for a term of three years from the date of this nomination. The member shall, notwithstanding the expiration of his term, continue to hold office until his successor enters upon his office.
  • The Central Government or the State Government may remove any member of a Board before the expiry of his term of office, after giving him a reasonable opportunity of showing cause against the same.
  • A member of a Board, other than the member-secretary, may at any time resign his office by writing under his hand addressed
  1. In the case of chairman, tot he Central Government or, as the case may be, the State Government.
  2. In any other case, to the chairman of the Board.

Joint Pollution Control Board (JPCB)

In some cases, two or more states or Union territories may come together in a combined initiative with an agreement to form Joint Boards, known as a Joint Pollution Control Board (JPCB). For any action to be taken by the Joint Board, an official petition shall be submitted to the Central Government.

The Central Government alone shall be competent to give any direction under this Act where such direction relates to a matter within the territorial jurisdiction of two or more States or pertaining to a Union territory.

Annual reports and meetings

A Board shall meet at least once in every three months and shall observe such rules of procedure in regard to the transaction of business at its meetings as may be prescribed.

Functions of the Central Board

The primary goal of the Central Board as stated in accordance with the Water Act shall be to promote cleanliness of streams and wells in different areas of the States. The main functions of the Central Board shall be to improve the quality of air and to prevent, control or abate air pollution in the country. The Board may also establish or recognize a laboratory or laboratories to enable the Central Board to perform its functions under this section efficiently.
Highlight functions of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) are as follows:
  • Advise the Central Government on any matter concerning the improvement of the quality of air and the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution;
  • Plan and cause to be executed a nation-wide programme for the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution;
  • Co-ordinate the activities of the State and resolve disputes among them;
  • Provide technical assistance and guidance to the State Boards, carry out and sponsor investigations and research relating to problems of air pollution and prevention, control or abatement of air pollution.
  • Plan and organize the training of persons engaged or to be engaged in programmes for the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution on such terms and conditions as the Central Board may specify;
  • Organize through mass media a comprehensive programme regarding the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution;
  • Collect, compile and publish technical and statistical data relating to air pollution and the measures devised for its effective prevention, control or abatement and prepare manuals, codes or guides relating to prevention, control or abatement of air pollution.
  • Lay down standards for the quality of air.
  • Collect and disseminate information in respect of matters relating to air pollution.

Functions of the State Board

Similar to the CPCP, a State Board may also establish or recognize a laboratory or laboratories to enable the State Board to perform its functions under this section efficiently.
Highlight functions of the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) are as follows:
  • Plan a comprehensive programme for the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution and to secure the execution thereof-,
  • Advise the State Government on any matter concerning the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution;
  • Collect and disseminate information relating to air pollution;
  • Collaborate with the Central Board in organising the training of persons engaged or to be engaged in programmes relating to prevention, control or abatement of air pollution and to organise mass-education programme relating thereto.
  • Inspect, at all reasonable times, any control equipment, industrial plant or manufacturing process and to give, by order, such directions to such persons as it may consider necessary to take steps for the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution;
  • Inspect air pollution control areas at such intervals as it may think necessary, assess the quality of air therein and take steps for the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution in such areas;
  • Lay down, in consultation with the Central Board and having regard to the standards for the quality of air laid down by the Central Board, standards for emission of air pollutants into the atmosphere from industrial plants and automobiles or for the discharge of any air pollutant into the atmosphere from any other source whatsoever not being a ship or an aircraft.
  • 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.
  • Perform such other functions as may be prescribed or as may, from time to time, be entrusted to it by the Central Board or the State Government.

Funds of Central Board

  • The Central Board has its own fund, and all sums will be paid from time to time to it by the Central Government and all other receipts by way of gifts, grants, donations, benefactions, etc. of that Board shall be carried to the fund of the Board.
  • The Central Board may expend such sums for performing its functions under this Act for any action relating to the prevention, control or abatement or water pollution.

Funds of State Board

  • The State Board has its own fund, and all sums will be paid from time to time to it by the State Government and all other receipts by way of gifts, grants, donations, benefactions, etc. of that Board shall be carried to the fund of the Board.
  • The State Board may expend such sums for performing its functions under this Act for any action relating to the prevention, control or abatement or water pollution.

Borrowing power of boards

A Board may, with the consent of, or in accordance with, the terms given to it by the Central Government the State Government, borrow money from any source by way of loans or issue of bonds, debentures or such other instruments, for the performance of all or any of its functions under this Act.

Annual Budget

The Central Board or the State Board shall, during each financial year, prepare a budget in respect of the financial year next ensuing showing the estimated receipt and expenditure, and copies shall be forwarded to the Central Government or the State Government.