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Surface Water: Using Law to Combat Water Pollution

By: Centre for Policy Research (CPR)-Namati Environmental Justice Program

Contamination of surface and ground water sources due to the discharge of polluting substances has been a long standing problem in most parts of the country. In 1974, a legislation was specifically enacted to regulate and prohibit water pollution. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 established Pollution Control Boards at the Central and State levels and bestowed them with powers to prevent and control water pollution. However, the design and application of this law was largely limited to the contamination of surface water like rivers, creeks, ponds or streams.

Aside from the Water Act, there are also other laws which can be used to remediate water pollution. These include, environmental clearance conditions under the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006, public nuisance in the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and the licensing process under the Factories Act, 1948. Along with these, there are also certain state level legislation such as the Orissa River Pollution Prevention Act, 1953 and the Karnataka Ground Water (Regulation and Control of Development and Management) Act 2011.

How these laws can be used to find administrative remedies to combat water pollution has been put together in the form of two Information, Education and Communication materials by the Centre for Policy Research-Namati Environmental Justice Program, with support from the Duleep Mathai Nature Conservation Trust. Of the two, one deals with surface water pollution and the other with groundwater abstraction.

The materials aim to give the reader an understanding of:

  • The existing legislations;
  • The kind of permissions which are needed;
  • The various institutions which are available;
  • The way in which evidence can be collected;
  • The manner in which complaints can be framed;
  • The various administrative remedies which are available;

The materials focus on the states of Gujarat, Karnataka, Odisha and Chhattisgarh.

This resource is also available in Gujarati, Kannada, Odiya, and Hindi.