Environmental quality in India has deteriorated during past two decades. This is because of the gap between the intent of the policy and the actual achievement.
India’s environmental problems are mainly due to its high population and limited natural resources. Protection of the environment poses a fundamental challenge to the nations desire to industrialize faster. Various efforts are being made to control India’s environmental problems
The government has recognized the need for planned land and water resource management and the protection of environmental resources is included in the constitution since 1976. The constitution, 42th amendment act of 1977 obligates the Government to protect and improve environment for the good of society as a whole. It also makes an environmental protection an obligation of the state and individual citizen and reads, “The state shall Endeavour to protect and improve the environmental and to safeguard forests and wildlife of the country.”
Article 51-A (9) states “It shall be duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures.”
India’s first national law of environment was the Insecticidal Act enacted in 1968 for regulating the import manufacture, sale, transport, distribution and use of insecticides in order to reduce risk to human beings or animals.
The year 1972 was a land mark in the history of environmental management in India. India attempted the first national efforts to address environmental protection through the formation of National Committee on Environmental Planning and Co-ordination (NCEPC). The NCEPC was set up in 1972 to prepare a report on the state of environment in India for the Human Environment Conference at Stockholm in June 1972 it was set up to promote greater co-ordination and integration in environmental policies and programmes.
In the same year (1972) the wildlife protection act was enacted to provide for the protection of wild animals and birds. The act provided the constituent of a Wildlife Advisory Board for each state, regulation of the hunting of wild animals and birds, and specified procedures for declaring areas are as Sanctuaries and National Parks. It has also provided for regulation of possession, acquisition and trade in wild animals and animal products. However, implementation of the act was far from being satisfactory. It failed to prevent hunting of rare animals and trade in the wildlife products.
The first national law for pollution control was enacted in 1974. The water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) act of 1974 thus marked an important milestone in environmental legislation in India. The act provides for the establishment of pollution control boards at the centre and states for the purpose of prevention, abatement and control of water pollution.