Overview of The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974 was enacted under Article 252 of the Indian Constitution. It was one of the first legislations to control water pollution of water resources and regulate industrial establishments' trade discharges by setting up Pollution Control Boards. This Act aims to maintain and restore the wholesomeness of water resources in the country. This Act consists of 64 sections that are divided into eight chapters. In case of any non-compliance or contravention of the Act's provisions by any individual, business or corporation, the respective State Pollution Boards and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) were conferred the power to levy fines. Moreover, section 25 of the Act provides for penal provisions, in which the violator of the provisions will be punishable with a jail term of not less than one year and six months that can extend up to six years. Many different provisions provide for prosecution for a violation under different categories. The CPCB and the SPCBs have been given powers to advise and coordinate with technical assistance to control and prevent water pollution.
Offences recognised under The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
Prohibition on the use of streams or well for disposing of off the polluting matter: This provision is applicable in case anyone is intentionally polluting or allowing the entry of harmful, poisonous or contaminating material into any water stream, sewer or land. Allowing any matter that obstructs the flow of water in a stream, and can make the situation worse as a cause or its consequences, is also prohibited. Non-compliance with this provision can lead to jail time for one and a half years up to six years.
Failure to follow the directions given by the Concerned Pollution Control Boards: if a person or industrial establishment fails to follow the provisions or post-compliance guidelines mentioned in their certificates issued by the board, it will attract jail time of up to three months and a fine of up to Rs. 10,000. If the entity fails to comply continues, this will attract an additional penalty of Rs. 5,000 per day. For example, if the unit fails to regulate the flow of the discharge into the water stream or provides the information required for the installation, operation or construction of a disposal system for any facility for preventing and controlling water pollution, it will be liable to be prosecuted under this provision of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974. Also, the failure to follow any order of the State Pollution Control Board that forbids a person from discharging harmful or contaminating matter into streams, well, or land or making it unclean for use is also punishable.
Failure to follow the order of the Court's directions: Failure to obey an order of the Court of law for restraining any polluting activities or the inability to follow any recommendation made by the Central Government about water pollution will also lead to prosecution of the errant individual or body under this provision. That is jail time for 1 year and 6 months, which might extend to six years along with a fine. A 5000 per day additional fine can also be levied if the non-compliance continues.
Operation or establishment without the consent of the Board: If any disposal or treatment plant is established without the permission of the State Board, or if any industry discharges its effluent into the water stream (well, sewer or land) over the standards laid down by the State Board and without the board's consent, it will be deemed as a contravention of rules and punishable under the Environment (Protection) Act.
Contaminating water reservoir or public spring: If a person intentionally pollutes the water of a public spring or reservoir and makes it unfit for use or consumption, the punishment is jail time of up to 3 months and a fine of up to Rs. 500 or both.
Engaging in activities that are harmful to the health of the community: Operating industries and other processes that pollute water bodies and groundwater and cause detrimental health issues and discomfort to the people is prohibited under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974. This includes any conduct of any such trade or business that is harmful and causes imminent danger to people's health.
Licences mandated under The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
Consent NOC: As the Act's primary purpose is preventing water pollution, the Act mandates the industrial establishment in every state and union territory to approach the Pollution Control Boards to obtain consent to discharge effluent and wastewater into the environment. The board, through the installed machinery of checks, ensures that only treated water with pollutants within the permissible limit gets discharged. This No Objection Certificate is given in two stages, one being the Consent to Establish (CTE), issued before the starting construction of the facility, and the other being the Consent to Operate (CTO), given before the business can start its operation.
Documents required while applying for the CTE and CTO are as follows:
- Pan card
- 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(CGWA)NOC (for Groundwater abstraction)
- ETP/STP details
- Proof of Air Pollution Control devices
- Any other document mentioned in the application
Application Process for Licences and Permits under The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
Registration with the Pollution Control Board (CPCB/SBPC/PCC)is required by industries performing specific activities deemed hazardous or dangerous. For instance, the polluting units that fall under the red category need a series of licences and authorisation permissions. While the orange or green category must also take care of many prerequisites to register themselves with the authorities as per the Water Act, 1974. The application for registration, authorisation and consent are generally made separately to appropriate authorities per the guidelines for that specific industry. The general scheme of the application includes the following stages.
Application and payment of a fee
The majority of industries and businesses that need registration are done through the centralised portals maintained by CPCB. While in the case of consent NOCand authorisation, the SPCBs provide an online consent mechanism by their respective online consent Management and Monitoring Systems (OCMMS).
Document Scrutiny and Site Inspection
All relevant documents are scrutinised by the concerned authorities. In the case of the CTO, a site inspection is done to check the declaration provided by the applicant. Similarly, in the case of authorisation for waste management facilities, the infrastructure and capacity of the facility are assessed at this stage by means of site inspection.
Acceptance or Rejection of the Application
If the application is accepted, the NOC, licence or authorisation is issued by the appropriate authorities in a time-bound manner, subject to certain conditions. If the application is rejected, the reasons for rejection are notified. However, permission to operate the facility can be cancelled by the Board if units are later found to be flouting the guidelines or post compliances.
Recently proposed amendments to The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
In order to decriminalise the existing provisions of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is examining a proposal to make amendments to the Act based on the inputs received from various stakeholders who have raised concerns about decriminalising the existing provisions, to weed out the fear of imprisonment for simple violations under the current law. Also, different processes in different states create confusion among the entrepreneurs and could be universalised across the jurisdiction. Another area under revision is the duplicity of consent under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974and the clearance under the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification, which might be done away with.
How can Enterclimate assist you?
One-stop assistance for the setup of your business
The team of experts can manage your licence and authorisation requirements to start your business. We have a vast network of environment and licencing experts in every state and can make your business compliant under the Water Act in a hassle-free manner.
Unmatched customer experience
The client relationship manager at Enterclimate are expert in their field and ensures that all doubts and queries are provided with precise and prompt assistance. Moreover, we keep track of updates and changes in legislation concerning the client’s business and make them aware of the same.
Our packages are customised to suit the specific needs of your business. Apart from providing assistance services, we also ensure that our clients are provided with expert legal assistance throughout the application process.