March 1, 2024

Lukmaan IAS

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WATER (PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF POLLUTION) AMENDMENT BILL, 2024

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TAG: GS 3: ECOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT

THE CONTEXT: The Lok Sabha this week passed the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Amendment Bill, 2024. The legislation, which was introduced and passed in the Rajya Sabha on February 5, makes important changes to the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.

EXPLANATION:

Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Amendment Bill, 2024:

  • It amends the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
    • The Act establishes the central and state pollution control boards (CPCB and SPCBs) to prevent and control water pollution.
  • The Bill decriminalises several violations, and instead imposes penalties.
  • It will initially apply to Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, and the union territories.  Other states may pass resolutions to extend its applicability to their state
Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Amendment Bill, 2024
  • As per the Act, prior consent of the SPCB is required for establishing any industry or treatment plant, which is likely to discharge sewage into a water body, sewer, or land.
  • The Bill specifies that the central government, in consultation with the CPCB, may exempt certain categories of industrial plants from obtaining such consent.
  • The Bill also adds that the central government may issue guidelines for the grant, refusal, or cancellation of consent granted by the SPCB.
  • Under the Act, establishing and operating an industry without obtaining such consent from the SPCB is punishable with imprisonment up to six years and fine.
  • The Bill retains this.  It also penalises tampering with monitoring devices used in determining whether any industry or treatment plant can be set up.
  • The penalty will be between Rs 10,000 and Rs 15 lakh.
  • Under the Act, chairman of an SPCB is nominated by the state government.
  • The Bill adds that the central government will prescribe the manner of nomination and the terms and conditions of service of the chairman.
  • Under the Act, an offence for which punishment is not explicitly specified is punishable with an imprisonment term of up to three months or a fine of up to Rs 10,000, or both.
  • The Bill removes imprisonment as a punishment, and prescribes a penalty between Rs 10,000 and Rs 15 lakh.
  • As per the Act, a court may take cognizance of an offence if a complaint is made by the CPCB or SPCB, or a person who has given a notice of the complaint to the Boards.
  • The Bill adds that cognizance may also be taken if a complaint is made by the adjudicating officer.
  • Under the Act, the head of a department will be deemed guilty for offences committed by government departments, provided that they prove due diligence was carried out to avoid such contravention.
  • The Bill specifies that the head of a department will be required to pay penalty equal to one month of their basic salary if the department violates any provision of the Act.

SOURCE: https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/what-are-the-changes-in-the-new-water-act/article67832268.ece

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