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 Water Act was formulated by the government of India in 1974.

The Water Act (1974)

This is an Act to provide for the prevention and control of water pollution and the maintaining or restoring of wholesomeness of water through various management guidelines and restrictions. The act was introduced and incorporated into the Constitution of India in 1974.

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 water pollution.

The Water Act applies in the first instance to the whole of the States of Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tripura and West Bengal and the Union territories.

The act was passed in pursuance of clause (1) of article 252 of the Constitution. Resolutions have been passed by all the Houses of the Legislatures of the States.

Clause (1) of Article 252 of the Indian Constitution

According to the Clause (1) of Article 252 of the Indian Constitution, the Parliament has no power to make laws for the States with respect to any of the matters mentioned above, except as provided in articles 249 and 250 of the Constitution. The Parliament can only act on laws once resolutions have been passed by the Houses of the Legislatures of the participating states.
The act shall come into force, at once in the States mentioned above and in any other State which adopts this Act under clause (1) of article 252 of the Constitution on the date of such adoption.

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 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.
Highlight functions of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) are as follows:
  • Advise the Central Government on any matter concerning the prevention and control of water pollution.
  • Co-ordinate the activities of the State Boards 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 water pollution and prevention, control or abatement of water pollution.
  • Plan and organize the training of persons engaged or to be engaged in programs for the prevention, control or abatement of water pollution.
  • Collect, compile and publish technical and statistical data relating to water pollution and the measures devised for its effective prevention and control.

Functions of the State Board

Highlight functions of the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) are as follows:
  • Plan a comprehensive programme for the prevention, control or abatement of pollution of streams and wells in the State.
  • Advise the State Government on any matter concerning the prevention, control or abatement of water pollution.
  • Encourage, conduct and participate in investigations and research relating to problems of water pollution and prevention, control or abatement of water pollution.
  • Collaborate with the Central Board in organizing the training of persons engaged or to be engaged in programmes relating to prevention, control or abatement of water pollution.
  • Inspect sewage or trade effluents, works, and plants for the treatment of sewage and trade effluents and to review plans, specifications or other data relating to plants set up for the treatment of water.
  • Evolve methods of utilization of sewage and suitable trade effluents in agriculture.
  • Evolve economical and reliable methods of treatment of sewage and trade effluents, having regard to the peculiar conditions of soils, climate and water resources of different regions.

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.