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

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

This article covers ‘Daily Current Affairs’ and the topic details of ”Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Amendment Bill, 2024”.This topic is relevant in the “Environment & Ecology” section of the UPSC CSE exam.


Why in the News? 

The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Amendment Bill, 2024 has recently been passed by the Parliament.


Key Provisions mentioned in the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Amendment Bill, 2024

    • The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1974 has long been a cornerstone of India’s environmental legislation, ensuring the sustainable management of water resources.
    • The recent modification aims to resolve several deficiencies and adapt regulatory structures to current demands.
    • Amendments to the Water Act are also necessary to bring it in line with the Air Act, as both laws contain comparable provisions.

Important amended provisions: 

  1. The decriminalization of minor offenses in the context of water pollution is a key focus, aiming to eliminate concerns about imprisonment for technical or procedural lapses. The underlying rationale is to establish penalties that match the seriousness of offenses, fostering compliance without excessively burdening those involved.
  2. Specific types of industrial plants can be exempted from certain legal restrictions, as per the revised bill, granting the central government the authority to make such exceptions. This includes provisions related to the establishment of new outlets and discharges outlined in Section 25. The goal is to simplify regulatory processes, minimize redundancy in surveillance efforts, and reduce unnecessary challenges for regulatory agencies, ultimately enhancing efficiency.
  3. To improve regulatory oversight and standardization across states, the bill introduces measures that empower the central government. This includes the ability to set guidelines for appointing chairpersons of State Pollution Control Boards and issuing directives on the approval, rejection, or revocation of industry-related consents. The legislation also outlines specific mandatory qualifications, experience requirements, and procedures to ensure the fair appointment of chairpersons.
  4. The current modifications apply to Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Union territories (although the original Act applies to 25 states only). They substitute imprisonment for “minor” offences with fines ranging from ₹10,000 to ₹15 lakh.
  5. However, operating or constructing an industrial unit without SPCB permission is still a serious offence punishable by up to six years in prison and a fine.


Challenges Associated with the Bill


Lack of Supervision: The provision granting exemptions for specific industrial categories from obtaining consent may pose a risk of heightened pollution levels if not effectively regulated.

Questionable Adjudication Process: Allowing the central government to designate adjudication officers could raise concerns regarding the fairness and independence of the adjudication process.

Centralized Nomination Process Concerns: The centrally prescribed nomination procedures by the central government for appointing chairpersons of State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) may compromise the autonomy of state governments.

Diminished Deterrence: The replacement of imprisonment provisions with penalties for violations against pollution standards might lessen the deterrent impact.

Unchecked Discharge Hazards: Insufficient oversight may lead to uncontrolled discharge of pollutants into water bodies, jeopardizing water quality and public health.

Potential Administrative Inefficiencies: Expanding the entities authorized to file complaints may result in overlapping jurisdictions and administrative inefficiencies, potentially causing delays and bureaucratic obstacles.


About Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974


The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, enacted in 1974, stands as a pivotal legislative framework in India designed to address and manage water pollution. This comprehensive legislation aims to prevent and control water pollution, emphasising the restoration and maintenance of water wholesomeness.


Constitution of Control Boards

Under this Act, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) were established, playing crucial roles in the enforcement and implementation of pollution control measures. The CPCB, formed in September 1974, operates as a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.


Dual Responsibility under the Air Act, 1981

An important extension occurred in 1981 when the CPCB was entrusted with responsibilities under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act. This dual role underscores its significance in addressing both air and water pollution issues.


Amendments in past

The Act underwent amendments in 1978 and 1988, focusing on clarifying ambiguities and empowering the Pollution Control Boards. These amendments strengthened the regulatory framework and expanded the powers of the Boards to effectively address emerging challenges.


Key Provisions and Industry Compliance

The Act mandates industries and local bodies to obtain prior consent from State Pollution Control Boards before initiating operations that involve the discharge of domestic sewage or trade effluent into water bodies. The Boards may grant consent with specified conditions or refuse, accompanied by written reasons.

Download Yojna daily current affairs eng med 14th feb 2024


Prelims practice questions


Q1. Consider the following statements 

  1. Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) operates under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
  2. Under the Water Act, 1974, State Pollution Control Boards can grant or refuse consent with written reasons
  3. Amendments in 1978 and 1988 to the Water Act primarily aimed at weakening the regulatory framework

How many of the above statements are correct? 

  1. Only one
  2. Only two
  3. All three
  4. None



Mains practice questions 


Q1) Analyze the role of environmental impact assessments (EIAs) in the pollution regulatory framework of India. How do EIAs contribute to sustainable development and environmental protection?

Q2) Evaluate the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as it relates to industries’ responsibility in pollution control. How can CSR initiatives contribute to a sustainable and eco-friendly industrial landscape?


No Comments

Post A Comment