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This article has been written by Faizan Anwer.


Since the dawn of civilization, the apprehension, comprehension and cognition of human understanding have been continuously progressing at an expeditious pace. This leads to a very wide spectrum of inventions and discoveries. The exponential growth in the exponentially increasing spheres of sciences has a plethora of environmental side effects that are needed to be regulated properly. The science of regulating a mechanism requires the integrated expertise of legal systems and the machinery that needs to be regulated. The proper amalgamation of the two systems has been lacking and resulted in loopholes that are used by criminals for hijacking the regulatory machinery. In the present study, the basic concepts of environment and pollution are discussed along with the constitutional provisions of environmental legislation. The gap between the technical and legislative aspects is taken into account and the probable correction is established.

Introduction to environment

The word Environment is derived from the French word “Environ” which means “surrounding”.[1] The core element of the environment is the existing surroundings and may denote the vicinity, ambience and the milieu. There are two-point for limiting the dimensional boundary of the environment i.e. in what respect we are viewing the surroundings and what circumference of the surrounding is being considered. After demarcating the dimensions of the environment, the factors present in that environment setting are chosen.

The dimensions and the factors of an environment give a comprehensive description of that environment. These factors can be categorised on different basis like physical factors, biological factors and social factors. The factors of the environment do not exist in isolation; rather they interact with each other forming a complex mesh of inter-relating matrices of the environment.[2] 

The physical factors (also called as abiotic factors) include temperature, water (all forms of precipitation like rain, snow, vapours etc.), solar radiations, soil (also known as edaphic factor), atmospheric pressure, wind speed and its pattern, latitude, longitude, altitude, sea level etc. The biological factors (also called as biotic factors) include producers, consumers and decomposers. The producers are the organisms having capability to produce its own food by the process of photosynthesis or chemosynthesis.

Therefore, producers generally include all the chlorophyll containing plants and are also known as autotrophs and the organisms that can use chemical energy to produce its food. Consumers include the organisms that are dependent on other organisms for their food and are also known as heterotrophs. Decomposers are the organisms that feed themselves with dead animals. The significance of social factors of the environment is of little scope in this study.

The environment of our planet “earth” consists of four interrelating components i.e. hydrosphere, lithosphere, atmosphere and biosphere. Hydrosphere includes all the water bodies like oceans, rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, reservoirs. Hydrological cycle is also a part of the hydrosphere. Lithosphere comprises the earth’s surface having three different layers i.e. crust, mantle and core.[3] Atmosphere consists of the gases that envelop the earth in its surroundings. Atmosphere consists of multiple layers i.e. troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere, exosphere and ionosphere. The region of the earth that supports life is termed as biosphere. This region may be terrestrial, aquatic or aerial.

All the components of the environment and ecosystem interact with each other for the purpose of maintaining the ecological balance. The environmental conditions are always dynamic and are never static but it must be in equilibrium. The equilibrium of the dynamic approach of the environment and the ecological balance is the key for sustaining life in nature. Mahatma Gandhi, the father of our nation emphasising on equilibrium and balance, very rightly said “The earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not for anybody’s greed”.

The interaction between the biotic and abiotic factors is mutual and bidirectional. The alteration in the mesh of abiotic factors leads to the alteration in the mesh of biotic factors and vice versa. One of the abiotic factors is atmospheric pressure which changes with altitude and affects the physiology of human beings. The increase in atmospheric pressure decreases the absorption of oxygen into the blood through the lungs and to compensate for the hypoxic conditions, the number of red blood cells increases in the blood. That is why the people living at higher altitudes are pinkish in colour. It illustrates how atmospheric pressure, an abiotic factor affects the physiology of human beings, the biotic factor.[4][5]

When any animal dies in the forest, it ultimately decomposes and the organic compounds, as well as minerals, get mixed into the soil of that region. The death of an animal changes the composition of the soil (edaphic factor), an abiotic factor.

We, the human beings, also interact with abiotic factors of the environment through our activities. The use of cosmetics, drugs and other chemicals have increased rapidly after the Second World War. The ingredients of cosmetics and different chemicals are washed out and ultimately get infiltrated to pollute the ground water. When we drink such polluted water, it may change the biochemistry of our very cells in multiple ways. These pollutants may sometimes act as endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) and affect human health in various disastrous ways.[6] 

There are various heavy metals thrown out of the plethora of industries without any proper treatment and infiltrated into groundwater causing cancer and other diseases. Industrial wastewater containing heavy metals (Cadmium, Nickel and Chromium) get infiltrated into the groundwater, a major cause of cancer. Groundwater contamination with chromium has been witnessed in Lohia Nagar, Ghaziabad.[7]  Human activities may interact with the physical environment in various other modes that may have cascading effects.[8]

The complexity of inter-relationships between the biotic and abiotic factors is becoming more complex by the time and has made its way to the behaviour of human beings and other animals. Recent research has established the correlation between the environmental pollutants and the criminal behaviour of human beings.[9][10]

The concept of pollution

The word pollution originates from the Latin word “polluere” which means “to soil or defile”.[11] However, conceptually pollution is more about the imbalances occurring in nature due to human intervention.[12] The equilibrium of the environment can be disturbed in either of the two ways i.e. disturbing the proportion of the components (changing the magnitude of any one component) of the natural environment or altering the number of components (adding a foreign component or removing a naturally occurring component).[13] Human intervention disturbs this equilibrium that results in ecological imbalance. The definition of pollution comes from the very same concept of muddling the natural equilibrium of the environment.[14] We can also derive that pollution is an unwise use of resources that may cause imbalance in nature.[15]

Air is composed of nitrogen, oxygen, argon, carbon dioxide and traces of helium, neon, krypton and methane. Any change in the quantity of any of these components will cause air pollution and on the other hand addition of any foreign component or diluting the naturally present component will cause air pollution. The quantum of pollution depends not only on the concentration of the contaminant in the environment[16][17][18] but also the duration for which the contaminant remain in the environment. Pollutants can be of two types i.e. the primary pollutants and the secondary pollutants. Primary pollutants are directly emitted into the environment from the source of contamination while secondary pollutants are formed by the reactions in primary pollutants over a period of time.

Pollution can be categorised on different bases. On the basis of the component of the environment affected, there are various types of pollution like air pollution, water pollution, soil (land) pollution. It can also be categorised on the basis of the nature of pollution like noise pollution, radioactive pollution, thermal pollution and light pollution. Some other secondary types of pollution are plastic pollution, visual pollution, personal pollution and nutrient pollution.[19] 

The main cause of air pollution is combustion. Primary pollutants causing air pollution are oxides of sulphur (sulphur dioxide and sulphur trioxide), oxides of nitrogen (nitrous oxide, nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide), oxides of carbon (carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide), lead, suspended particulate matter (SPM), respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Secondary air pollutants are acid rain, smog, ozone, hydrogen peroxide, formaldehyde and peroxy acetyl nitrate (PAN). Some natural contaminants causing air pollution are fog, pollen grains, bacteria and volcanic eruptions.  

The major source of water pollution is waste from rural, urban and industrial area discharged into the natural water bodies. Water pollutants may include detergents, pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls,[20] synthetic organic chemicals, heavy metals[21][22] (cadmium, lead, mercury, chromium), metalloids, ammonia, hydrogen sulphide, algal nutrients, acid mine drainage etc.

The environment can be categorised as a natural environment and built environment. Built environments are created by humans while natural environments are naturally occurring. Stockholm conference in its declaration states “Both aspect of man’s environment, the natural and man-made, are essential to his well-being and to the enjoyment of basic human rights, the right to life itself.

Natural environments include forests, sea, rivers, agricultural fields etc. while built environments include buildings (residential, commercial, institutional), highways, bridges etc. The infrastructural development requires the conversion of natural environment into built environment and may result in disruption of environmental equilibrium and ecological balance.[23] The exponential growth of the built environment and rapid decline in the natural environment in the last few decades has caused immense degradation of the environment making it unhealthy to live in.[24]

The clash between the development and the environment: Sustainable development

The environmental problems of developing countries are not the side effects of excessive industrialization but reflect the inadequacy of development. Edward Thompson, a British writer once told Mahatma Gandhi that wildlife was fast disappearing. The reply of Mahatma “It is decreasing in the jungles but it is increasing in the towns!” pointed towards the imbalance between the anthropocentric and ecocentric environment. There must be harmony between the social dimension and the natural characteristics to achieve ecological balance.[25]

The nature of environmental legislations: Global versus regional

The environmental legislations should be bent globally emphasising the international issues. The environment of earth and the biosphere as a whole is highly integrated and coordinated and hence the regulatory framework should be more inclusive, exhaustive, comprehensive and intercontinental. All the states must come forward to take the challenge of environmental pollution together. The gist is to say that environmental legislations should be less of regional nature and more of international nature. Once we put our foot out of the horizons of the atmosphere and enter into the never ending space, the challenges become universal and break the geographical boundaries. Mrs. Indira Gandhi addressing the United Nation’s Conference on the Human Environment truly said “United Nation’s concern for the present and future welfare of humanity. It does not aim merely at securing limited agreements but at establishing peace and harmony in life among all races and with nature. This gathering represents man’s earnest endeavour to understand his own condition and to prolong his tenancy of this planet.[26] She also pointed out the contributory efforts of all the nations by saying “One cannot be truly human and civilized unless one looks upon not only all fellow man but all creation with the eyes of a friend.” The legislators and the designers of the regulatory framework should follow the concept of “one earth” and “one environment”.

The constitutional exposition of the environment

The Constitution of India was devoid of conspicuous provisions for environment protection or environment related issues.  The elucidation of environmental and ecological balance can be derived by examining Article-21. The scanning of Article-21 through the lens of enviro-legal experts established the fact that the Constitution of India is not enviro-myopic. The framers of the Constitution of India were quite witty in architecting and structuring the framework of the Constitution.

The scope of Article-21 becomes wide enough by introducing the words “Right to Life and Liberty” and making a way to integrate the environmental legislations and Article-21.[27] This integration of environmental legislations and Article-21 is possible by integrating the significance of the environment with life. The term life in Article-21 cannot be expounded comprehensively without taking the environmental elements in consideration. The right to a pollution free environment is a beautiful outgrowth of Article-21. Although the right to health and the right to food are included in Article-21, proper food for proper health cannot be accomplished without a healthy environment.

Article-21 is the living component of the Constitution due its dynamic and ever evolving nature. The Stockholm Conference also declared the same “Man has fundamental right to freedom, equality and adequate conditions of life in an environment of quality that permits a life of dignity and well-being.” The Supreme Court of India has also applied the ‘doctrine of emanation[28] following the example of the U.S. Supreme Court and has evolved ‘the right to pollution free environment’ as a fundamental right from Article 21.

Article-21 and The Forty Second Amendment of the Constitution of India provides the basic structure and platform for building up the environmental legislations for the protection of the biosphere and establishing the ecological equilibrium.[29][30] The Forty Second Amendment introduced Article-48(A) and Article-51-A(g) in the Constitution of India creating the backbone of the environmental legislations in India when read with Article-21.[31] 

The introduction of Article-48(A) and Article-51-A(g) in the Constitution of India removes the enviro-myopia of the Constitution of India and improves the constitutional far-sightedness in the field of environment. According to Article 48(A), The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country. According to Article 51A(g), The State shall protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures.

The distribution of the legislative powers was also modified by the Forty Second Amendment of the Constitution, 1976 by transferring the subjects of environmental significance like “forests” and “protection of wild animals and birds” from State List to Concurrent List. The Constitution of India protects the environment through mutual triangle of fundamental rights, directive principles of the state policy[32] and the fundamental duties[33] of the citizens of India. There are few other provisions of the Constitution of India lying in the center of this triangle and strengthening the environmental regulations.

The Constitution of India under Article-47 makes the State to embrace three duties by promoting the level of nutrition, standard of people and public health. The level of nutrition, standard of people and public health is directly linked and interdependent on the health of the physical environment and balanced ecological diversity. Article 47 also prohibits the intoxicating drugs and alcohol that is to say Article-47 not only promotes the physical environment but also emphasises on the social environment for the comprehensive well-being of the people of India. The physical and the social environment are highly correlated.

Under Article-48 of the Constitution of India, it shall be the duty of the State to organise agriculture and animal husbandry. It also dictates the State to adopt synergy with modern scientific techniques for organising agriculture and animal husbandry. Again there are issues like biosafety and the use of genetically modified organisms that should be addressed under Article-48 for the safety of the physical environment and for preserving and improving the indigenous breeds. Article-48 also prohibits the slaughter of cows and calves for the social and economic health of the society.  

It shall be the duty of the State to protect the monuments of national importance under Article-49 of the Constitution of India. Acid rain caused by the industrialization in the vicinity of Taj Mahal has caused its deterioration. The environmental imbalances affecting the monuments have been an issue in the 21st century.

According to Article 51(c), it shall be the duty of state to recognise the international treaties and implement correspondingly in all the matters pertaining to environmental issues and others.

Article-142, on the other hand empowers Supreme Court to make an order which is essential for comprehensive justice in a pending matter. It provides that the Supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it, and any decree so passed or orders so made shall be enforceable throughout the territory of India. The evolution of Article-142 is determined by its application by the Supreme Court in various verdicts for the welfare of the society and protection of the environment. The Supreme Court applied Article-142 in the Union Carbide case for the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy. The disaster of Bhopal gas tragedy was so intense that the Supreme Court deviated from the existing laws for compensating the injured folks.[34] 

Article-252 empowers the Parliament of India to promulgate legislations on state list when requested by two or more states.[35] The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act (1974) for the control of water pollution was enacted by the Parliament of India utilising the power under Article-252 on the request of the states. Article 253 empowers the Parliament of India to enact the legislation in order to fulfil the requirements of international agreements in the territory of India for regulating the environmental issues on global level.[36] Article-73 also dictates the power of executives pertaining to international treaties.[37]

In Maganbhai Case, it is quoted “…the effect of Article-253 is that if a treaty or convention with a foreign state deals with a subject within the competence of the state legislature, the Parliament alone has, notwithstanding Article-246(3), the power to make laws to implement treaties, agreement or convention or any decision made at any international conference…”[38]

The environmental legislations that are promulgated in the circumference of fundamental rights i.e. Part-III of the Constitution of India are enforceable by the courts, however the environmental legislations that are promulgated in the circumference of directive principles of state policy i.e. Part IV of the Constitution of India is not enforceable by the courts. According to Article-13 any law which is inconsistent with the provisions of Part III of the Constitution of India shall be void until the inconsistency is rectified. According to Article-31(C) added by the 25th Constitutional Amendment (1971), any law promulgated in pursuance of the fulfilment of the purposes of the directive principles under Article-39(b) and 39(c) shall be immune from the provision of Article-13 even if it violates the provisions of Article-14 and 19.

Article-31(A) and Article-31(C) empowers the government to acquire land, forests and other natural resources; however, this acquisition must be done within the circumference of Article-39(b) and 39(c) i.e. with the spirit of common good and equitably.

The Seventy Third Amendment of Constitution, 1992 added Part IX to the Constitution of India titled “The Panchayats” covering provisions from Article 243 to 243(O) and eleventh Schedule covering 29 subjects regarding the functions of Panchayats including agriculture, land improvement, land consolidation, soil conservation, minor irrigation, water management, watershed development, animal husbandry, social forestry, dairy, poultry, fishery, minor forest produce, education, health and sanitation.

The Seventy Fourth Amendment of Constitution, 1992 added Part IXA to the Constitution of India titled “The Municipalities” covering provisions from Article 243 P to 243 ZG and twelfth Schedule covering 18 subjects including urban planning, town planning, planning for social and economic development, water supply for domestic, industrial & commercial purposes, public health, sanitation conservancy, solid waste management, urban forestry, protection of environment and promotion of ecological aspect, regulation of slaughter houses and tannery.

The National Committee on Environmental Planning and Coordination (NCEPC) following the 24th UN General Assembly meeting on Human Environment is the initiation of inculcating the principles of environmental jurisprudence to drift the direction of progressing civilizations of the world towards sustainable development. The constitutional exposition of environment and ecology introduced the appellate of environmental jurisprudence to Indian Judiciary. The forty Second Constitutional Amendments, 1974, is the landmark for inculcating the environmental jurisprudence in the legislations of India.

The initial promulgation of environmental legislation in India

The seeds of environmental legislations in India were sown during the British era and leads to the enactment of the Shore Nuisance (Bombay and Kolaba) Act of 1853, the Oriental Gas Company Act of 1857 and the Indian Fisheries Act of 1897. In the beginning of twentieth century the Bengal Smoke Nuisance Act of 1905, the Ancient Monuments Preservation Act of 1905, the Explosives Act of 1908, the Indian Ports Act of 1908, the Bombay Smoke Nuisance Act of 1912, the Indian Steam Vessel Act of 1917, the Poison Act of 1919, the Indian Boiler’s Act of 1923 and the Indian Forest Act of 1927 were promulgated during the British Government for controlling the pollution. All these legislation enacted by the British built the platform for environmental jurisprudence for the years to come in India. 

After the independence of India, there was an increasing need for the proper environmental policy for the nation. Although various legislations were promulgated after independence like the Factories Act of 1948, Andhra Pradesh Improvement Scheme Act of 1949 and Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act of 1957 yet there was a rapid decline in the wildlife population of India affecting the ecological balance.

The government of India, during 1952, constituted an advisory body designated as the Indian Board for Wildlife (IBWL) in order to tackle the problem. The formation of the National Committee on Environmental Planning and Coordination (NCEPC), 1972 in the Department of Science and Technology was the initiation of the cascade of efforts made for environmental planning and management. The National Committee on Environmental Planning and Coordination (NCEPC) was formed for the purpose of preparing a survey report to analyse the existing environmental conditions of the country at that time. The report was submitted to the United Nations for the conference on human environment.

United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held at Stockholm 1972 motivated the Indian Sovereign to promulgate the regulatory framework for the protection of environment under the leadership of the then Prime-Minister of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi. As a result of this various environmental legislation like Wild Life Protection Act 1972, Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act (1974), Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act (1977), The Forest (Conservation) Act (1980) The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act (1981), The Environmental Protection Act (1986), The National Green Tribunal Act (2000) and Biological Diversity Act (2002) came into existence. These legislations were aimed to regulate the discrete elements of the environment like air and water.

The Tiwari Committee organised by the central government, in January 1980, played a significant role in designing the administrative machinery for the protection of the environment. The amalgamation of the Department of Environment and the Ministry of Environment & Forest was the result of the efforts made by the Tiwari Committee.

A comprehensive regulatory framework was needed since the individual elements of the environment are integrated in their function. Moreover, the Bhopal gas tragedy in 1984 gave a blow to the then existing strategies and created environment awareness among masses. The accelerated environment activism led to the formation of Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) in 1985.[39] 

The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) took the responsibility to promulgate a comprehensive legislation for safeguarding the environment and thus, the Environment Protection Act was promulgated under the auspices of the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF). The scope of Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) including environment and ecology; environment in coastal waters, mangroves and coral reefs; environment research and development, education, training, information and awareness; environmental health; environmental impact assessment; forest development agency; surveying of natural resources; biodiversity conservation; biosphere reserve programme; desert and desertification; prevention of cruelty to animals. It not only integrates the legislation of the different elements of the environment as a whole but also considers the industrial impact and its development as an integral segment of environmental regulatory strategies.[40] The Environment Protection Act (EPA), 1986 came into existence with a wider scope and spectrum for enhancing the sustainable development and minimizing the possible hazards.[41]

The environmental legislations must be framed with a proportional emphasis on environmental science, environmental technology and the industry affecting the biosphere and the ecosystem as a whole. Environmental science and environmental technology are the two very different spheres that need to be understood comprehensively before the promulgation of any regulatory framework.[42] Unfortunately, most of the environmental legislations in India fail to recognise the difference between the two. Environmental science deals with natural phenomena that take place in the ecosystem or any part of the ecosystem. The hydrological cycle, bio-geochemical cycles, food chains, food web and the interaction among the different elements of the environment are the few examples of concepts of environmental science, a branch of the basic sciences.

The expert of environmental science can more appropriately promulgate the regulations that can help in maintaining the environmental equilibrium and ecological balance. However, environmental technology deals with developing the equipment that helps in control and abatement of pollution. Gravitational settling chamber, zero liquid discharge systems, and effluent treatment plants (ETPs), sewage treatment plants (STPs) are few of the examples of the products of environmental technology, a branch of engineering. Recently, a new field of study, environmental biotechnology is emerging exponentially. Environmental biotechnology integrates the concepts of environmental science and environmental technology to deal with the emerging environmental issues.[43] 

The anatomy of the Environment Protection Act, 1986

The Environment Protection Act of 1986 was enacted by the Government of India under Article 253 of the Indian Constitution paying tribute to the Stockholm conference. EPA is an effort to consolidate all other previous environmental legislations and is treated as umbrella legislation for the comprehensive protection of the environment. The structure of the Environment Protection Act, 1986 is given in Table-1.

Table-1 The Structure of Environment Protection Act, 1986


Title of the Chapter


Chapter I


S-1 to S-2

Chapter II

Reserved Forests

S-3 to S-6

Chapter III

Prevention, Control and Abatement of Environmental Pollution

S-7 to S-17

Chapter IV


S-18 to S-26

According to Section 1(2) of the Environment Protection Act (1986), it is meant for the whole of India. Section 2 of the Environment Protection Act defines a few terms pertaining to the environment and pollution.

According to Section 2(a), “Environment” includes water, air and land and the inter-relationship which exists among and between water, air and land, and human beings, other living creatures, plants, microorganism and property”.[44] As per this definition, there are three elements of environment namely water, air and land and the environmental phenomena are recognised by the inter-relationship among and between the different elements (water, air and land)  of the environment with the living world (including the microbes, plants, humans and other living creatures) as well as non-living world (property).

A set of eight components is considered for explaining the inter-relationship i.e. water, air, land, human beings, other living creatures, plants, microorganisms and property. Further this complete set of eight components is divided into two subsets, first subset includes only three components namely water, air and land while the second subset includes five components namely human beings, other living creatures, plants, microorganisms and property as shown in Table-2.

Table-2 Categorization of Components in two Subsets



Subset-1 comprising of the main elements of the environment

  1. Land
  1. Air
  1. Water

Subset-2 comprising of the components with whom the main elements of environment interact to represent the different environmental phenomena

Living World

  1. Human Beings
  1. Other Living Creatures
  1. Plants
  1. Microorganisms

Non-Living World

  1. Property

According to the definition of S-2(a), the inter-relationships existing in the environment can be categorised into two types i.e. inter-relationships between the elements of the two different subsets and the inter-relationships among all the elements of both the subsets. These inter-relationships can be well understood by a matrix of interaction between and among the elements of the two different subsets. The matrix of inter-relationships between the elements of two different subsets is shown in Table-3. The inter-relationship matrix among all the parameters of both the subsets is shown in Table-4.

Table-3 Inter-relationship Matrix between the Components of the two Subsets





Human Beings

Between Land & Human Beings

Between Air & Human Beings

Between Water & Human Beings

Other Living Creatures

Between Land & Other Living Creatures

Between Air & Other Living Creatures

Between Water & Other Living Creatures


Between Land & Plants

Between Air & Plants

Between Water & Plants


Between Land & Micro-Organisms

Between Air & Micro-Organisms

Between Water & Micro-Organisms


Between Land & Property

Between Air & Property

Between Water & Property

Table-4 Inter-relationship Matrix among all the Parameters of both the Subsets





Human Beings



Other Living Creatures



Land-Land Interaction

Water-Land Interaction

Air-Land Interaction

Humans-Land Interaction

Plants-  Land Interaction

Microbes- Land Interaction

Other Creatures-  Land Interaction

Property-Land Interaction


Land-Water Interaction

Water-Water Interaction

Air- Water Interaction

Humans- Water Interaction

Plants- Water Interaction

Microbes- Water Interaction

Other Creatures- Water Interaction

Property-Water Interaction


Land-Air Interaction

Water-Air Interaction

Air-Air Interaction

Humans- Air Interaction

Plants-Air Interaction

Microbes- Air Interaction

Other Creatures- Air Interaction

Property-Air Interaction

Human Beings

Land-Humans Interaction

Water- Humans Interaction

Air- Humans Interaction

Humans- Humans Interaction

Plants- Humans Interaction

Microbes- Humans Interaction

Other Creatures- Humans Interaction

Property-Humans  Interaction


Land-Plants Interaction

Water-Plants Interaction

Air-Plants Interaction

Humans- Plants Interaction

Plants- Plants Interaction

Microbes- Plants Interaction

Other Creatures- Plants Interaction

Property- Plants Interaction


Land-Microbes Interaction

Water-Microbes Interaction

Air- Microbes Interaction

Humans- Microbes Interaction

Plants- Microbes Interaction

Microbes-Microbes Interaction

Other Creatures- Microbes Interaction

Property-Microbes  Interaction

Other Living Creatures

Land-Other Creatures Interaction

Water-Other Creatures Interaction

Air-Other Creatures Interaction

Humans- Other Creatures Interaction

Plants- Other Creatures Interaction

Microbes- Other Creatures Interaction

Other Creatures- Other Creatures Interaction

Property-Other Creatures Interaction


Land-Property Interaction

Water-Property Interaction

Air-Property Interaction

Humans-Property Interaction

Plants-Property Interaction

Microbes-Property Interaction

Other Creatures-Property Interaction

Property- Property Interaction

The definition of the environment as given in Section 2(a) is incomprehensive and distorted. The portfolio of elements of the environment in this definition is incomplete. Only land, water and air are included in the elements of the environment whereas plants, microbes and human beings are not considered as the elements of the environment. The categorisation of components for explaining the inter-relationship is vague and ambiguous as there is no basis of this categorization.

According to Section 2(b) of the Environment Protection Act, “Environmental pollutant” means any solid, liquid or gaseous substance present in such concentration as may be, or tend to be, injurious to the environment”.[45] This definition of environmental pollutants is very primitive and does not follow the actual concept of environmental pollutants.

A pollutant may be injurious to the environment due to the concentration of the pollutant or the time for which it remains in the environment even in very low concentrations. It lacks the concept of the time period for which the environmental pollutant remains in the environment and causing harmful effects. This definition of environmental pollutants is simply based on the word “injurious” and lacks comprehensiveness. If any contaminant is disturbing the natural composition of the environment and is not injurious should be considered as a pollutant, because its hazards may not be direct but indirectly it will degrade the environmental matrix.

According to Section 2(c) of the Environment Protection Act, “Environmental pollution” means the presence in the environment of any environmental pollution”.[46] This definition actually does not define the term environmental pollution. Environmental pollution is a very broad term, although the definition is very narrow in its exposition. The environmental pollution is exhibited not only due to the presence of any environmental pollutant but it denotes the cascade of implicit or explicit impacts any pollutant may have on different environmental matrices.

According to section 2(e) of Environment Protection Act, “hazardous substance means any substance or preparation which, by reason of its chemical or physico-chemical properties or handling, is liable to cause harm to human beings, other living creatures, plants, microorganism, property or the environment”.[47] Many genetically modified organisms (GMOs) including plants (genetically modified) and microbes (genetically modified) have been widely used for various purposes like wastewater treatment. These GMOs can be extremely dangerous for the wild varieties and may prove to be hazardous to the biodiversity and the environment as a whole due to its biological properties. Genetically modified organism, although hazardous, are out of the scope of the definition of section 2(e) as the term biological properties is not included.


It is clear from the above discussion that environmental legislation connects itself to the constitutional provisions through three major gateways i.e. fundamental rights, directive principles of state policy and the fundamental duties. Since human health is directly linked to environmental health and thus opening routes of environmental regulations to human rights as well. As far as constitutional cognizance is concerned, there are very clear provisions in the Constitution of India.

Although the environmental legislations have two point issues that need to be addressed. The comprehensiveness of environmental concepts is lacking and the proper implementation is required. The major drawback of EPA is that it does not talk about the concept of balance and imbalance of a particular substance within the environment, which is the sole criteria of deciding the threshold whether a process is sustainable or not.


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[14] Hynes, H. B. N. (1960). The Biology of Polluted Waters. Liverpool University Press, Liverpool, 202 pp.

[15] Martin, A. (1971). Pollution and Conservation in Australia. Lansdowne Press, Melbourne, 110 pp.

[16] Sprague, J. B., Elson, P. F. & Saunders, R. L. (1965). Sublethal copper-zinc pollution in a salmon river–a

field and laboratory study. In Advances in Water Pollution Research, Proceedings of 2nd Int. Conf. Tokyo, 1964, 1, pp. 61-82, Pergamon Press, Oxford.

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[27] Sahu, 2008: 1

[28] Durga Das Basu, Human Rights in Constitutional Law, (1994), p. 96.

[29] The Constitution of India, 1950, Article 21

[30] The Constitution (Forty Second Amendment) Act, 1976.

[31] Divan and Rosencrantz, 2001: 45

[32] The Constitution of India, 1950, Article 48A

[33] The Constitution of India, 1950, Article 51A(g)

[35] The Constitution of India, 1950, Article-252

[36] The Constitution of India, 1950, Article-253

[37] The Constitution of India, 1950, Article-73

[38] Maganbhai vs Union of India, AIR 1969 SC 783

[39] EIA: India: environmental issues. [].

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[42] Daniel Vallero, Chapter 3 – The Science of Air Pollution, Fundamentals of Air Pollution (Fifth Edition), Academic Press, 2014, Pages 43-81, ISBN 9780124017337,

[43] Daniel A. Vallero, Chapter 1 – Environmental Biotechnology: An Overview, Environmental Biotechnology, Academic Press, 2010, Pages 1-44, ISBN 9780123750891

[44] Environment Protection Act, 1986, Section 2(a)

[45] Environment Protection Act, 1986, Section 2(b)

[46] Environment Protection Act, 1986, Section 2(c)

[47] Environment Protection Act, 1986, Section 2(e)

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