The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Amendment Act, 2024

The Ministry of Law and Justice has published the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Amendment Act, 2024 to bolster the regulatory framework concerning water pollution control in India. This amendment aims to enhance the effectiveness of existing legislation by incorporating several key provisions.

The Amendment Act applies to the States of Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan along with Union Territories. It will also apply to such other State which adopt this Act by resolution. The Act comes into immediate effect in Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan and the Union Territories.

Enhanced Powers Granted to Central Government

The amendment increases the ambit of the powers the central government. It states that the state government shall nominate the chairman of the State Board in a manner prescribed by the central government. Furthermore, the amendment act also states that the terms and conditions of service of the chairman shall be prescribed by the central government.

The central government is now also empowered to exempt certain categories of industrial plants from obtaining consents from the State Board for the establishment of industries, operations, processes, or treatment and disposal systems.

Additionally, the central government in consultation with the Central Board, can now issue guidelines on the matters relating to the grant, refusal or cancellation of consent by any State Board for establishment of any industry, operation or process, or treatment and disposal system or to bring into use of a new or altered outlet including the mechanism for time-bound disposal of the applications or period of validity of such consent. Every State Board must act in accordance with these guidelines.

Strengthening of Penalty Provisions

It is significant to note that while the amendment Act has increased the upper limit of the financial penalties for contravention of the provisions of the Act, it has also eliminated imprisonment as a form of penalty under the Act.

The amendment Act imposes penalties on individuals or entities contravening or failing to comply with directions issued under various sections, with penalties ranging from ten thousand rupees to fifteen lakh rupees, along with additional penalties for continued contravention.