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This article is written by Lakshay Kumar, a second year B.A.LLB student of Delhi Metropolitan Education, Indraprastha University. In this article, he has discussed the various agencies responsible for controlling and preventing water pollution and the need to conserve water.


The Act came into force in 1974 and is applicable to the states of Assam, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Gujrat, Haryana, Tripura, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, Kerala, and the union territories. It could also be adopted by any state through a resolution passed declaring to adopt the Act. The Water (Prevention and Control) Act, 1974 was introduced to prevent and control water pollution and to restore and maintain the wholesomeness of water for the establishment.

The Act also confers some powers to the established bodies such as the central board and the state board to control pollution of the water bodies.


Section 2 of the Act contain certain definitions:

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  1. “ Board “ means either the central board or the state board.
  2. Section 2 (e) of the Act defines what is pollution, according to Section 2(e) pollution means any contamination of water or alteration of the physical, chemical and biological properties of water or disposing of any sewage waste in water which is likely to cause nuisance or renders such water to be harmful to public health or safety or to domestic, industrial or other legitimate use or harmful to the life and health of the animals and aquatic plants.
  3. Includes- watercourse (flowing or dry), inland water whether natural or artificial, subterranean water or sea or tidal waters as the state may prescribe from time to time.
  4. According to Section 2 (b) Central Board means Central Pollution Control Board.
  5. According to Section 2 (h) State Board means State Pollution Control Board.

Agencies for controlling Water Pollution

There are two agencies set up as per the Act for controlling and preventing water pollution.

Central Board- Central Pollution Control Board

Constitution and Composition (Section 3)

The Central Government through a notice in the official gazette has the power to assign or set up a Central Board named as Central Pollution Control Board. As far as the composition of the board is concerned the Central Board is to contain the following members:

  1. A chairman who has the knowledge or has practical experience in dealing with cases relating to environmental protection. The chairman is to be appointed by the central government only.
  2. Not more than 5 officials to represent the central government.
  3. Not more than 5 members to be nominated by the central government from the members of the State Board.
  4. Maximum 3 members appointed by the central government to represent the interests of agriculture, fisheries, trade or any other interest as the government may seem fit.
  5. 2 persons to represent the companies or corporations owned, controlled or by the central government.
  6. A full-time member secretary having complete knowledge, experience and qualification of scientific management and prevention of environmental pollution.

Functions of Central Board (Section 16)

  1. Advise the Central Government on any matter concerning the prevention and control of water pollution.
  2. Coordinate the activities of the State Boards and resolve disputes among them.
  3. provide technical assistance and guidance to the State Boards, carry out and sponsor investigations and research relating to problems of water pollution and prevention, control or abatement of water pollution.
  4. Plan and organize the training of persons engaged or to be engaged in for the prevention, control or abatement of water pollution on such terms and conditions as the Central Board may specify.
  5. Organize through mass media a comprehensive program regarding the prevention and control of water pollution.

State Board- State Pollution Control Board

Constitution and Composition (Section 4)

  1. The state government through an official notice in the Gazette has the power to assign or set up a state board named as State Pollution Control Board. The composition of the state board is as follows:
  1. A Chairman who either has the knowledge or some experience in dealing with cases relating to environmental pollution.
  2. Not more than 5 members appointed by the state government to represent the government.
  3. Not more than 2 persons by the state government who are functioning as members of the local authorities within the state
  4. Not more than 3 persons nominated by the state government to represent the interest of fisheries, agriculture, trade and any other interest as the government may seem fit.
  5. 2 person from companies, corporations which are either controlled, owned or managed by the state.
  6. A member secretary who has the knowledge, qualifications, and experience in dealing with cases pertaining to environmental pollution.

Functions of State Board (Section 17)

  1. To plan a comprehensive program for preventing and controlling the pollution of the wells and streams in the state and to secure its execution.
  2. To advise the State Government on matters relating to prevention and controlling water pollution.
  3. Collaborating with the central board to train persons employed or to be employed in preventing, controlling water pollution.
  4. To lay down, modify the effluent standards of sewage and trade effluents and for the quality of receiving water resulting from the discharge of effluents and to classify waters of the state.
  5. To evolve methods of utilizing the sewage and suitable trade effluents in agriculture.
  6. The state Board has the authority to set up laboratories to enable the board to perform its function efficiently, including collecting samples of water from any stream or sewage or trade effluents.  

Prevention and Control of Water Pollution

According to Section 19 of the Act, the state board has the power to limit the territorial jurisdiction of any order passed by it in matters relating to prevention and controlling water pollution. This means that the orders passed by the state board will only apply in the areas that are affected by water pollution .it is up to the state board to determine which area is to be declared water polluted and which is not, this can be done by making reference to a map or making reference to a line of any watershed or the boundary of any district.
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According to Section 20 of the Act, the state board also has the power to inspect any land, conduct surveys or gauge in an area if it thinks fit for controlling or preventing water pollution. It can also ask any company, industry to dispose of the information pertaining to the construction, installation, and operation of its establishment. Section 21 of the Act empowers the state board or any employee on its behalf to analyze any stream or well for the purpose of preventing and controlling water purpose.

The state board also has the power to stop any person to enter into any poisonous, noxious or polluting matter determined in accordance with the standards laid down in the Act. According to Section 25, no person is allowed to set up an industry or start a new operation or processor to any treatment of sewage without prior approval of the state board, the state board may grant him a notice of approval and only after that he is entitled to continue or start a new business.

If a person starts a new operation before prior approval of the board, the board may impose any conditions as it may think fit for not obtaining notice of approval. Section 27 of the Act gives power to the state board not to grant any notice for setting up an industry or continuation of an existing operation. If the company has been granted permission with some conditions attached, the state board has the power to review those conditions which it attached before giving the notice of approval.

Joint Board

An agreement may be entered into by the state government of one state with the state government of another state to set up a joint Board. Similarly, the Central Government and the government of other union territories can also enter into an agreement for constituting a joint board.

Composition of Joint Board (Section 14)

A joint board consists of the following members namely:

  1. A chairman who has the knowledge, experience, and qualifications in matters relating to prevention and controlling environmental pollution.
  2. 2 members from each state government nominated by their respective state to represent the state.
  3. A nonofficial appointed by each state to represent the interests of agriculture, fisheries, trade or any other interest of the participating state.
  4. 2 members from the companies, corporations nominated by the central government which is owned, controlled or managed by the participating state.
  5. A full-time member secretary who has the required skills, experience and qualifications in science, engineering or management aspect of controlling and preventing pollution to be appointed by the central government.

Disqualification of Members (Section 6)

Section 6 of the Act mentions the grounds on which a member can be disqualified from being a member of the board:

  1. A person who is judged insolvent or has not paid his debts or has compounded with his creditors cannot become a member.
  2. A person of unsound mind or who has been convicted of such an offense which according to the central government or state government may involve moral turpitude.
  3. If a person is holding any office of profit or is a salaried employee of any company, firm which is connected with the board in that situation also he can be a member of any board.
  4. If a member has misused his powers by virtue of being a member or holding any position in connection with the board, then the central government or for that matter the state government may disqualify that member in the general interest of the public.

Meetings of the Board (Section 8)

According to Section 8, in every three months the board has to conduct a meeting and review all the laws and the orders implemented by it , apart from that it also has to discuss the future plan of Action, if the chairman of the board thinks that an urgent meeting is required to address a particular issue then in that case meeting among the members of the board can be held at any time as prescribed by the chairman.

Constitution of the committees (Section 9)

Section 9 permits the central or state board to constitute a committee of members either from the existing members or totally new members who do not have any connection with the company for the performance of the duties laid down in the Act.

Members of the committee shall meet at any time or at any place and shall observe any rule or procedure as it may consider necessary for the performance of its duties. The members will be paid fees, allowances for attending meetings and performing functions of the board from time to time.

Provision of appeals (Section 28)

Any person who is aggrieved by the decision of the state board made under section 25 to section 227, has 30 days time to make an appeal in the concerned appellate authority as established by the state government. The appellate authority may consist of a single person or three people as the government may think fit.


  1. If any person fails to comply with the orders of the board under subsection 2 and 3 of Section 20 then in that case on conviction he is punishable for imprisonment for 3 months or fine or both.
  2. If the person fails to comply with orders of the board under clause e of subsection 1 of Section 32 or with subsection 2 of Section 33 then, in that case, the person would be punishable with imprisonment for 6 months extending to 6 years or a fine or both.
  3. Apart from the above-mentioned penalties. Section 42 mentions penalties for different kinds of Acts namely:
  1. If any person removes, destroys or pull down any notice put up by the board.
  2. If someone obstructs the member of the board or any other person who is Acting under the board.
  3. If a  person fails to produce any information as required by the member of the board for the performance of his duties.
  4. Or if he gives any information to the members which he knows to be false.

Then In all the above Acts if the person is convicted he would be punishable by imprisonment for a maximum period of 3 months or fine that may extend up to 10,000 rupees or both.


Water pollution is a big issue in India and controlling and preventing it is another big issue, till now we are not able to create awareness among the people  regarding the importance of conserving water bodies, this Act certainly provides various agencies that will look to prevent and control water pollution, the Act lays down various procedures for filing a complaint and the powers of each and every board. However more needs to be done and the Act should be made more comprehensive, more participation should be given to the locals and punishments should be made stricter so that it Acts as a strong deterrence.  Above all these more emphasis should be given on the implementation aspect as just by making laws you can not control pollution, proper implementation is also required.



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