What are the powers and functions of pollution control board (PCB)

The main function of the Pollution Control Board is to improve the quality of air, promote cleanliness of water bodies and to prevent pollution.

If may also perform the following functions:

1. Advise the Government on prevention and control of pollution.

2. Carry out and encourage investigations and research relating to pollution problems.

3. Plan and organize training programmes for persons involved in prevention and control of pollution.

4. Organize through mass media, a comprehensive programme regarding pollution and control.

5. Collect, compile and publish technical and statistical data, manuals, codes and guides.

6. Establish or recognize laboratories for analyzing pollution parameters.

7. Advise the Government regarding the suitability of any site for the location of industry.

8. Issue environmental no objection certificate to start an industry.

9. Inspect and review sewage or industrial effluent treatment plants and to grant consent.

10. Prescribe effluent quality standards and the quality of receiving waters resulting from the discharge of effluents.

11. Evolve economical and reliable methods of treatment, utilization, and disposal of sewage and industrial effluent with regard to soil, climate and water resources of the region under consideration.

12. Inspect air pollution control areas to assess the quality of air and to take steps for prevention of pollution.

13. Lay down standards for the quality of air and emission of air pollutants into the atmosphere, to frame rules and regulations to improve the quality of environment.

14. Regulate and control noise producing and generating sources.

15. Monitor the compliance of the standards regarding ground water, ambient air, leachate quality, compost quality and incineration standards.

16. Close down a defaulting industrial plant or withdraw its supply of power or water.

Environmental legislation

The Government of India has formulated comprehensive legislations to enable the institutions like pollution control boards to effectively protect the environment. A list of laws is given below:

1. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, as amended up to 1988.

2. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977.

3. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Rules, 1978.

4. The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.

5. The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

6. The Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986.

7. Environmental impact Assessment of Notification, 1994.

8. Hazardous Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 1989.

9. Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989.

10. Manufacture, Use, Import, Export and Storage of Hazardous Micro-Organisms Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells Rules, 1989.

11. Scheme of Labeling of Environment Friendly Products (ECO-MARKS)-Resolution 1991.

12. Bio-Medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998.

13. The National Environment Tribunal Act, 1995.

14. The National Environmental Appellate Authority Act, 1997.

15. The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991.

16. The Public Liability Insurance Rules, 1991.

17. National Forest Policy, 1988.

18. Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.

19. Forest (Conservation) Rules, 1981.

20. Re-cycled Plastics Manufacture and Usage Rules, 1999.

21. Coastal Regulation Zone-Notifications, 1991.

22. Environment (Sitting for Industrial Projects) Rules, 1999-Notification.

23. Dumping and Disposal of Flyash-Notification.

24. Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000.

25. Municipal Solid Wastes (Management & Handling) Rules, 2000.

26. Ozone Depleting Substances (Regulation) Rules, 2000.

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

The Water Act was passed by the parliament in 1974. This act suggests that only state governments can enact water pollution legislation. As per the act, a state board for the prevention and control of water pollution was constituted in each state for implementation of the act.

It empowers these boards to establish and enforce effluent standards for factories discharging pollutants into water bodies. The boards control sewage and industrial effluent discharges by approving, rejecting or conditioning applications for consent to discharge. After the 1988 amendment, the board is empowered to close a defaulting industrial plant or withdraw its supply of power or water.

The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977

An act to provide for the levy and collection of a cess (tax) on water consumed by certain industries and local authorities, with a view to augment the resources of the Central Board and State Board to implement the Water Act. The Act gives a polluter a 25% rebate of the applicable cess upon installing effluent treatment equipment and meeting the norms.

The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986

In the wake of the Bhopal tragedy, the Government of India enacted the Environment (Protection) Act of 1986 under Article 253 of the constitution the Environment Protection Act prohibits the discharge or emission of pollutants in excess of the prescribed standards. To implement this mandate, the Government has framed the Environment (Protection) Rules of 1986 (EPR). Broadly, there are three types of standards:

a. Source standards, which require the polluter to restrict at source, the emission and discharge of pollutants.

b. Product standards, which fix pollution norms for new manufactured products such as cars.

c. Ambient standards to set maximum pollutant loads in the air.

2. The important measures taken by the government to control air pollution are:

a. The ambient air quality of various cities and towns is monitored regularly through a network of 290 monitoring stations under the National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Programme.

b. Ambient air quality standards and emission standards for industrial units have been notified.

c. Emissions from highly polluting industrial units and thermal power plants are regularly monitored and action is taken against the defaulting units.

d. Unleaded petrol is now being supplied to the entire country with effect from February 2000. Sulphur is being progressively reduced in diesel. Fuel quality standards for petrol and diesel have been notified.

e. Gross emission standards for on-road vehicles and mass emission standards for all categories of new vehicles have been notified under the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989.

Fiscal incentives are provided for installation of pollution control equipment.

Hazardous Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 1989

These rules enlist 18 categories of hazardous waste along with their regulatory quantity (Refer Table 7.1). Industries generating any of these wastes beyond the regulatory quantity are required to seek authorization from the concerned state pollution control board for its temporary storage in the premises and their disposal.

Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000

Noise pollution has become a major problem in the metropolitan cities and in other urban areas. With a view to regulate and control noise producing and generating sources, the Ministry of Environment and Forests has notified the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 under the Environment (Protection) Act 1986, for prevention and control of noise pollution in the country.

The Notification seeks to control noise from various sources, inter-alia, industrial activity, construction activity, generator sets, loud speakers, public address systems, music systems, vehicular horns and other mechanical devices that have deleterious effects on human health and psychological well being of the people; it is considered necessary to regulate and control noise producing and generating sources with the objective of maintaining the ambient air quality standards in respect of noise.

Scheme of Labeling of Environment Friendly Products (ECO-MARKS)-Resolution 1991

The Government has decided to institute a scheme on Labelling of Environment Friendly Products. The scheme will operate on a national basis and provide accredition and labelling for household and other consumer products which meet certain environmental criteria along with quality requirements of the Indian Standards for those products. The label shall be known as the "ECOMARK".

Any product which is made, used or disposed of in a way that significantly reduces the harm it would otherwise cause to the environment could be considered as an Environment Friendly Product.

The specific objectives of the scheme are as follows:

(i) To provide an incentive for manufacturers and importers to reduce adverse environmental impact of products.

(ii) To reward genuine initiatives by companies to reduce adverse environmental impact of their products.

(iii) To assist consumers to become environmentally responsible in their daily lives by providing information to take account of environmental factors in their purchase decisions.

(iv) To encourage citizens to purchase products which have less harmful environmental impacts.

(v) Ultimately to improve the quality of the environment and to encourage the sustainable management of resources.

The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991

This was enacted to provide immediate relief to the victims of an accident involving hazardous substance. The act obligates every owner (a person who owns or has a control over handling hazardous substance) to take.

One or more insurance policy, before he starts handling hazardous wastes, whereby, he is insured against liability to give relief to those affected by any accident, death or injury or damage. Relief in also quantified in this Act

The Recycled Plastics Manufacture and Usage Rules, 1999

1. Carry bags and containers made of recycled plastics shall not be used for storing, carrying, or packing of food stuff.

2. Carry bags and containers made of virgin plastic shall be in natural shade or white.

3. Carry bags and containers made of recycled plastic and used for purposes other than storing foodstuff shall be manufactured using pigments and colourants sis per IS 9833,1981

4. Recycling of plastics shall be in accordance with IS 14534, 1998.

5. The recycled plastic carry bags and containers shall be marked as 'recycled' along with the indication of the percentage of use of recycled material.

6. The minimum thickness of carry bags made of virgin or recycled plastics shall be 20 microns.

Municipal Solid Wastes (Management & Handling) Rules, 2000

As per this act, municipal solid waste includes commercial and residential wastes generated in municipal or notified areas in either solid or semi-solid form excluding industrial hazardous wastes but including treated bio-medical wastes.

Any municipal solid waste generated in a city or a town, shall be managed and handled in accordance with the compliance criteria and the procedure lay down

Any product which is made, used or disposed of in a way that significantly reduces the harm it would otherwise cause to the environment could be considered as an Environment Friendly Product.

The specific objectives of the scheme are as follows:

(i) To provide an incentive for manufacturers and importers to reduce adverse environmental impact of products.

(ii) To reward genuine initiatives by companies to reduce adverse environmental impact of their products.

(iii) To assist consumers to become environmentally responsible in their daily lives by providing information to take account of environmental factors in their purchase decisions.

(iv) To encourage citizens to purchase products which have less harmful environmental impacts?

(v) Ultimately to improve the quality of the environment and to encourage the sustainable management of resources.

The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991

This was enacted to provide immediate relief to the victims of an accident involving hazardous substance. The act obligates every owner (a person who owns or has a control over handling hazardous substance) to take.

One or more insurance policy, before he starts handling hazardous wastes, whereby, he is insured against liability to give relief to those affected by any accident, death or injury or damage. Relief in also quantified in this Act

The Recycled Plastics Manufacture and Usage Rules, 1999

1. Carry bags and containers made of recycled plastics shall not be used for storing, carrying, or packing of food stuff.

2. Carry bags and containers made of virgin plastic shall be in natural shade or white.

3. Carry bags and containers made of recycled plastic and used for purposes other than storing foodstuff shall be manufactured using pigments and colourants as per IS 9833,1981

4. Recycling of plastics shall be in accordance with IS 14534, 1998.

5. The recycled plastic carry bags and containers shall be marked as 'recycled' along with the indication of the percentage of use of recycled material.

6. The minimum thickness of carry bags made of virgin or recycled plastics shall be 20 microns.

People's Participation in Environmental Protection

The success of India's environmental programmes depends greatly on the awareness and consciousness of the people. A National Environmental Awareness Campaign has been launched to sensitise the people to the environmental problems through audio-visual programmes, seminars, symposia, training programmes, etc.

International conventions and protocols

There are some issues of local importance which can be solved at the local or regional level. For example, the pollution of a river which flows in one country can be handled by the government of that country because it principally affects its citizens only.

But some issues such as global warming and climate change have a wide scope and international cooperation is needed to solve them. International and regional organizations play an important role in solving these problems, often coordinating with many governments.

The Montreal Protocol, signed in 1987, set up a time table for diminishing the ozone- depleting gases, especially chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and the bromine compounds. The follow- up meet in Copenhagen discussed the provisions on the quicker phase-out of the above said chemicals.

The ozone issue was a simpler one, which could be tackled with little impact on economies and lifestyles. Moreover, its causes were clear-cut and the principal dangers were foreseen with more confidence. Hence the governments moved quickly into action.

The Earth Summit: Rio de Janiero, 1992

But another issue like the global climate change is a very complex issue with no obvious reasons. The end-results of the many adaptive responses too have been controversial.

The costs of adopting these mitigating features too are prohibitive. Moreover, the inviolable nature of any action plan adopted by the United Nations has also proved to be an obstacle. Hence many countries have started to avoid and delay the process of implementation of these action plans.

When the 20th United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development convened in Rio de Janeiro, 'Global Climate Change' was the most important issue at hand this conference, also known as the 'Earth Summit', adopted the 'Agenda 21'. A total of 154 countries were signatory to the agenda, which has four key elements.

1. The objective of the convention was to stabilize greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere within a timeframe, sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable sustainable economic development.

2. Developed countries were to take the lead in reducing greenhouse gases.

3. No precise emission-reduction targets were set nor was there any system to punish violators.

4. Countries were to meet regularly at meetings referred to as 'Conference of Parties' (COP) to discuss the implementation of part.

COP-1: Berlin, 1995

At the first COP in Berlin, Germany, members adopted the Berlin Mandate. This Mandate committed developed nations to the following:

The elaboration of national policies and measures to limit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The setting of specific targets and timeframes for greenhouse gas limitation and reduction.

COP-2: Geneva, 1996

At the second COP in Geneva, Switzerland, members adopted the Ministerial Declaration. This Declaration firmly stated that the science of climate change was compelling and that legally binding commitments were warranted. The Declaration was in response to private- sector corporations and individuals who suggested that science of global climate change was uncertain and that action was unwarranted.

COP-3: Kyoto, 1997

At the third COP in Kyoto, Japan, member countries adopted the Kyoto Protocol. The Protocol provided for the following:

1. Greenhouse emission-reduction targets for each country.

2. A greenhouse gas emission-trading program.

3. Further meetings to establish penalties for failure to meet targets and the rules and regulations of the new emission trading program.

COP-4: Buenos Aires, 1998

At the fourth COP in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the parties adopted the Buenos Aires Plan of Action. The Plan sets out a list of 140 items to advance the implementation of the convention and to flesh out the operational details of the Kyoto Protocol.

At the conference, the parties agreed to a 2-year action plan for advancing the agenda set in the Kyoto Protocol. This conference paved the way for the active participation of developing nations in the process to address climate change. Argentina, the host, itself took the lead in announcing its intention to reach the emission targets for the 2008-2012 period.

Moreover, participating countries were more interested in adopting and investing in clean technologies like the Clean Development Mechanism. These technologies are safer and impose less burden on the environment.

COP-5: Bonn, 1999

At the fifth COP in Bonn, Germany, the parties began work on the Buenos Aires Plan of Action.

1. Countries clarified their intention to complete work on definition of forestry activities under the Protocol and the role of conservation and management of forests, agricultural soils, and grasslands.

2. Countries came to a common understanding of the basic elements of an effective penalty system.

3. Argentina became the first developing country to announce a binding emissions target for the 2008-2012 time period.

COP-6 (Part I): The Hague, 2000

The sixth COP in the Netherlands ended without any further agreements being reached on the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. Countries agreed to reconvene in Bonn in 2001 to resume COP-6.

COP-6 (Part II): Bonn, July 2001

At COP-6 (Part II) in Bonn, Germany, the parties adopted the Bonn Agreements on the Implementation of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action. The agreement covered four principal areas:

a. The operating rules for emissions trading and other market-based mechanisms established under the Protocol.

b. How 'sinks' will be credited toward Kyoto emission targets. Sinks are natural processes that reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (i.e., emphasis on reforestation).

c. Funding to help developing countries combat and cope with climate change.

d. Mechanisms to encourage and enforce compliance with emissions targets.

2. Although the agreement resolved most of the high-profile issues, it did not tackle many of the more technical issues under the Kyoto Protocol, including the details of the emissions trading system and other flexibility mechanisms. Completion of these more technical details was deferred to COP-7 in Marrakech.

COP-7: Marrakech, November 2001

At COP-7 in Marrakech, Morocco, parties adopted the Marrakech Accords. These Accords dealt with the more technical issues under the Kyoto Protocol, including:

Operating rules for international emissions trading and the Protocol's two other flexibility mechanisms (the Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation).

A penalty system for failing to meet an emissions target. The issue of whether the consequences are legally binding was deferred.

The Marrakech Accords effectively completed the work under the Buenos Aires Plan of Action and set the stage for countries to ratify the Protocol and bring it into force. The United States participated in the Conference but reaffirmed that it did not intend to ratify the Protocol.

Following Marrakech

With the Marrakech Accords, the Kyoto Protocol was now ready to be brought into force. However, without the United States, entry into force may be difficult. It would require ratification by almost all developed countries, including the European Union, Russia and Japan. Furthermore, following Marrakech, the United States developed its own parallel approach to greenhouse gas emissions and began seeking support from other countries for this alternative approach.

COP-8: New Delhi, 2002

COP-8 was held in New Delhi, India, October 23 to November 1, 2002. The conference resulted in the Delhi Declaration, which included technical issues, such as methods to measure emission of greenhouse gases, as well as recognized several general principles, such as the continued threat of global warming, the need for cooperation between the rich and poor countries over climate change, and the need for environmental policy to take economic and social development into account.

The declaration underscored a growing international division. Developed nations such as the European Union have been pushing for developing nations such as India and China to do more to cut down their emissions of greenhouse gases. Developing nations, in turn, have refused to make such commitments unless there is financial support and special consideration of the impact of environmental policy on the economies of developing nations. These divisions were exacerbated by the United States, which has refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and has sought an alternative global regime consistent with its own policies on climate control.

COP-9: Milan, 2003

COP-9 was held in Milan, Italy, December 1-12, 2003. Important agreements made at the conference include:

Creation of a new Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF), which is designed to help developing countries adapt to climate change. The SCCF will fund qualified projects in poor countries relating to activities like water and land resource management, fragile ecosystem protection, and integrated coastal zone management.

Finalization of regulations for how to account for carbon sinks. A carbon sink is anything that absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This predominantly includes forests. Under the regulations, countries may use carbon sinks as credit in meeting their carbon emission targets.

Two other documents resulted from the Earth Summit the Rio de Janiero: a convention of biodiversity and another on climate change.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change entered into force on 21st March 1994, after being ratified by 50 states. The Convention's general objective is the "stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system". To achieve this, the Convention elaborates legally binding commitments in three categories: (1) those to be undertaken by all parties; (2) those that apply to OECD countries, except Mexico, the EEC and eleven countries that are undergoing transition to a market economy; and (3) those to be undertaken by OECD countries except Mexico and the EEC. Commitments that apply to all parties are:

1. Preparation and communication to the COP of national inventories of greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity using comparable methodologies.

2. Development and communication to the COP of programs to mitigate effects of greenhouse gases and measures of adaptation to climate change.

3. Cooperation on technology related to greenhouse gas emissions for all relevant sectors.

4. Sustainable management of greenhouse gas sinks and reservoirs.

5. Cooperation in preparing for adaptation to the impacts of climate change.

6. Integration of climate change consideration with other policies.

7. Research to reduce uncertainties concerning scientific knowledge of climate change, the effects of phenomenon and the effectiveness of responses to it; and exchange of information, on matters such as technology and the economic consequences of actions covered by the convention.

The Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change and the COP-4

As the COP-4, the Kyoto Protocol has a large significance in the global climatic control; it has been elaborately discussed here.

The Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change held a conference in Kyoto, Japan on December 1-11, 1997 to agree on a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The agreed to plan makes use of global free market forces to protect the environment. The Kyoto Protocol will be open for signature in March 1998. To enter into force, it must be ratified by at least 55 countries, accounting for at least 55% of the total 1990 carbon dioxide emissions of developed countries.

Key Aspects of the Kyoto Protocol

A set of binding emissions targets for developed nations. The specific limits vary from country to country. Examples of specific limits: 8% below 1990 emission levels for the European Union countries, 7% for the United States and 6% for Japan.

a. Emission targets are to be reached over a five-year budget period, the first budget period being 2008-2012.

b. The emission targets include major greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and synthetic substitutes for ozone-depleting CFCs.

c. Activities that absorb carbon (sinks), such as planting trees, will be offset against emissions targets.

d. International emission trading will be allowed. Countries that have met their targets for emission reduction and have room to spare can sell emission permits to companies or countries. Emissions trading can provide a powerful economic incentive to cut emissions while also allowing important flexibility for taking cost-effective actions.

e. Countries with emission targets may get credit towards their targets through project-based emission reductions in other such countries. The private sector may participate in these activities.

2. Through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) developed countries will be able to use certified emissions reductions from project activities in developing countries to contribute to their compliance with greenhouse gas reduction targets. Certified emissions reductions achieved starting in the year 2000 can count toward compliance with the first budget period.

3. The Protocol identifies various sectors (including transport, energy, agriculture, forestry and waste management) in which actions should be considered in developing countries to combat climate change and provides for more specific reporting on actions taken.

4. The protocol contains several provisions intended to promote compliance.