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

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What’s in today’s article?

  • Why in the News?
  • Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Amendment Bill, 2024
  • Major Features of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Amendment Bill, 2024
  • News Summary

Why in the News?

  • The Central government has introduced the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Amendment Bill, 2024 in Rajya Sabha.

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

  • The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act was enacted in 1974 to provide for the prevention and control of water pollution.
  • The Act prescribes various penal provisions for non-compliance or contravention of the provisions punishable with imprisonment.
  • The Amendment Bill, tabled in the Rajya Sabha, emphasizes that the cornerstone of democratic governance lies in the government trusting its own people and institutions.
  • The Bill indicates that outdated rules and regulations causes trust deficit.
    • For example, the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 imprisonment of up to three months for not informing the State Board about abstraction of water from a stream or well.
    • The Bill amends it to a fine between Rs10,000 and Rs15 lakh.
  • The imprisonment provisions for minor violations which are simple infringements, not leading to any injury to humans or damage to the environment, many a times cause harassment to business and citizen.
  • It is also not in consonance with the spirit of Ease of Living and Ease of Doing Business.
  • Therefore, the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Amendment Bill, 2024 proposes rationalising criminal provisions and ensuring that citizens, business and companies operate without fear of imprisonment for minor, technical or procedural defaults.

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

  • The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Amendment Bill, 2024, among other things, seeks to provide:
    • that the manner of nomination of the chairman of the State Pollution Control Board is to be prescribed by the Central Government;
    • that the Central government may exempt certain categories of industrial plants from the application of Section 25 relating to restriction on new outlets and new discharges;
    • that the Central government may issue guidelines on the matters relating to the grant, refusal or cancellation of consent by any State Board for establishment of any industry;
    • for decriminalising of minor offences and replacing it with monetary penalty in case of continuation of contravention;
    • the manner of adjudication of penalties by the adjudicating officer who shall be an officer not less than the rank of Joint Secretary to the Government of India or Secretary to the State government;
    • punishment for failure to comply with the provisions of section 25 relating to restrictions on new outlets and new discharges and section 26 relating to existing discharge of sewage or trade effluent, etc.;
    • the amount of penalty imposed is to be credited to the Environmental Protection Fund established under section 16 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

News Summary

  • The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Amendment Bill, 2024 was introduced in the Rajya Sabha by MoS for Environment Shri Ashwini Kumar Choubey.
  • It would be applicable to Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan, and any other state that passes a resolution under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
  • The Bill enables the Centre to “exempt certain categories of industrial plants” from the restrictions on new outlets and discharges.
    • It also enables the Centre to “issue guidelines” on matters relating to grant, establishment of any industry, etc.

Q1. What is the primary objective of the Environment Protection Act?

The primary objective of the Act is to ensure the protection and improvement of the environment. The Act provides a framework for the Central Government to coordinate the activities of various authorities established under other laws relating to the environment

Q2. What is the amount of fresh water available on Earth?

The total volume of water on Earth is estimated at 1.386 billion km³ (333 million cubic miles), with 97.5% being salt water and 2.5% being freshwater. Of the freshwater, only 0.3% is in liquid form on the surface.


Source: Water pollution curbs: Bill allowing exemption to industrial units tabled