Policies and Legislative Framework for wastewater management (1974-1986)

The article gives a brief account for the acts that were passed to protect water and environment from the year 1974 to 1986

Legislation on waste/pollution control took into account not only the generators of waste but also the receiving environments. Limits were laid down in terms of standards for effluent or emission. Depending on the type of waste generator, there were specified limits for volume of waste and  characteristics of waste. The minimum protection levels considered necessary for receiving environments of the wastes were also considered. The table above is for four different environments that receive treated wastes and hence the limits seen above.

1.In 1974 the Water (Prevention and control of Pollution) Act was passed by Parliament as the first step to tackle the menace of liquid effluents from Industry. Since water was a state subject requiring states to adopt similar legislation, it took till 1990 for all states to adopt this Act. Boards  for the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution were set up in each state to implement the Act and to enforce effluent standards.

2.Effluent standards were drawn on techno-economic grounds called the Minimum National Standards(MINAS).Standards drawn up based on the assimilative capacity of the environment receiving the waste were called Location Specific Standards(LSS).MINAS evolved for different industrial sectors based on work done by the Central Board for the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution in New Delhi.

3.In 1977 the Water(Prevention and Control of Pollution)Cess Act was passed which allowed the various boards to levy a cess on the water abstracted for industrial use or domestic use. This was done to augment the resources of the boards to enable them function effectively.

4.In 1981 the Air(Prevention and Control of Pollution)Act was passed by parliament. This was to be enforced by the various boards. Accordingly, the names of the boards was changed to Pollution Control Boards(PCB).While the Central board became the Central Pollution Control Board(CPCB).The cess has been going up steadily since then.

5.In 1986, the Environment Protection Act(EPA) was passed by parliament. This is a central act implemented by the Ministry of Environment and Forests which delegates powers to state governments to implement the act. Under EPA too a set of effluent and emission  standards have been drawn up specific to different industrial sectors. These standards differ from MINA in some aspects/parameters. Under these circumstances, the PCBs usually insist on industries following the stricter of the two standards.


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