Overview of the Air (Prevention and control of pollution) Act, 1981
The Air (P&CP) Act of 1981 was passed under Article 253 of the Constitution of Indian Constitution. The Act was instituted after the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm in June 1972 to provide a regulatory framework for preventing, controlling and abetting air pollution. The Act was designed to install checks to preserve air quality and focuses on the air emission from industries units as well as automobiles’ exhaust.Along with the Water (Prevention and control of Pollution Act), which came earlier in 1974,both the Acts provided the role and responsibilities of environmental agencies. The provisions for obtaining Consent NOC and Authorisation requirements for establishing new industry and upgrading existing units, along with some additional post compliance to monitor air and water pollution, were also detailed. The highlight of these Acts was the creation of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), which is now the nodal Pollution Control Board in the country. While CPCB was constituted under section 3 of The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, it exercises the powers to prevent and control air Pollution under the Air Act. The scope of the Air Act act has become crucial in today’s industrialised economy. The Air Act has seen little change since its only amendment in 1987. But new Acts and Policies have been addressing air pollution issues and working towards the preservation of natural resources (air and water) by supplementing one another. Some of these are
- Water (Prevention and control of Pollution Act) of 1974, which is meant to regulate the industrial discharge of wastewater,
- The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Rules of 1982gives the procedures like meetings of Boards or the powers entrusted to them.
- The Air (P& CP) (Union Territories) Rules, 1983
- The Environment Protection Act of 1986
- The Motor Vehicles Act of 1988
Significance of the Air Act, 1981 for Industries
The Act lays down the powers and functions of the CPCB and the SPCB. The scope of the Act is not limited to giving directions. The Act also empowers the Boards to enter any industrial premises and inspect the unit, demand information and collect samples of air emissions. The Act defines air pollution and acknowledges other important terms like an approved appliance, approved fuel, automobiles, control equipment, emissions, industrial plants etc. The significance of the Act can also be attributed to the procedures givento regulate the establishment of industrial units through authorisation and Consent NOCs. The following points highlight the significance of the Act for industrial establishments.
- Consent NOCs: As per provisions in Sec. 21 (1) & (2), no industrial plant can be operated in a state or UT without obtaining prior consent fromSPCB/PCC. The Consent NOC is awarded in two stages, i.e. Consent to Establish (CTE) and Consent to Operate (CTO). Every application for consent must be made in Form-I and has to be accompanied by a prescribed fee. Within 4 months of the receipt of the application, the Board completes the formalities to either grant or refuse consent. During the course of the processing consent application, Board may seek any information about the industry after giving notice in Form II.
- Air Pollution Control Areas:Under section 19 of the Act, the State Government, in consultation with SPCB, has been vested with the power to declare the respective state as an Air Pollution Control Area. The CPCB and the SPCB have been entrusted with the task of preventing and controlling air pollution. The State Boards lay down and enforce standards for the prevention and control of air pollution. For instance, the power to give instructions for ensuring standards for emission from automobiles or restrict the use of certain industrial plants.
- Power to make Complaint: Section 22 (A) defines the power of the Board to make an application to the court for restraining the person from causing air pollution operating any industrial units to cause emission of air pollutants above the standard laid down by the State Board is liable for litigation by the Board.
- Regulatory measures: Central and state governments have been implementing regulatory measures from time to time under the powers conferred to them by the Act. For instance, the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) implemented by the Centre to achieve a 20-30 % reduction in PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations by 2024 or the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) of 2017 and the Comprehensive Action Plan (CAP), 2018 for controlling air pollution inDelhi.
- Corporate Offences: Section 40 defines the Offences by Companies. Any company secretary, director or manager or officer is also guilty if it is proved that the offence was committed with their connivance, consent or is attributable to any neglect on their part and will therefore be liable for prosecution.
Penalties: Failing to comply with the provisions of the Air Act is punishable with imprisonment for a term between 1.5 to 6 years, with a fine.Further, the Board can issue directions for closure of industry or disconnection of electricity in case of persistent defiance by any polluting industry under section 31 A of the Air Act.
Documents required to Obtain Consent NOCs
Documents required while applying for the CTE and CTO are as follows:
- Pan card and UID of Authorized Person
- Pan card of unit (Except Proprietorship)
- MOA and AOA/Partnership deed
- Layout Plan
- Project Report
- Property Paper/Rent Agreement with Rent permission
- Proof of installed Capacity
- Authorisation Letter (Except Proprietorship)
- Utility Bill (If any)
- Central Ground Water Authority Permission (for Groundwater)
- ETP/STP details
- Proof of Air Pollution Control devices
- Any other document mentioned in the application
Registration Stages under the Air Act, 1981
Making Application for Consent and Payment of fee
Most SPCBs provide an online consent mechanism for CTE and CTOthrough their respective online consent Management and Monitoring Systems (OCMMS). The application must have information related to the plans that are proposed for pollution control, site details and other registration certificates.
Document Scrutiny and Site Inspection
All relevant documents are scrutinised at both stages by the concerned SPCBs. Before granting CTO, a site inspection is done to check the declaration provided by the applicant. The inspection officer can raise issues and guide the owner. A report is prepared based on the findings.
Issuance or Rejection of the Consent Application
If the application is accepted, CTE and CTO are granted to the applicant. The reasons for rejection are notified to the applicant if the application is rejected.
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