i Introduction

India has moved up 14 places in 2019 in the World Bank's 'ease of doing business' rankings2 and is now 63rd among 190 nations. This reflects the positive impact of the reforms undertaken by the government to attract investment in the country. This has also ensured that India remains among the world's top 10 improvers for the third consecutive year. Balancing growth imperatives with environmental responsibilities remains the key challenge for India.

Some of the positive developments in the past year have been the focus on waste management, especially plastic waste management; the launch of nationwide water conservation scheme Jal Jeevan Mission; the nationwide success of the Swachh Bharat Mission in improving health and sanitation; and climate change -elated initiatives like the India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP) to ensure energy efficiency and combat climate change.

The enforcement of environmental laws in India has become more stringent with criminal prosecution of the directors of the polluting industries becoming increasingly common. The pollution control and monitoring authorities like the state pollution control boards (SPCBs) and the pollution control committees (PCCs) have become more vigilant and instances of environmental violations and non-compliances are being dealt with closure orders and hefty fines. With real-time emission and effluent monitoring in industries the industries have no option but to comply with the applicable norms and standards.

The judiciary, be it the specialised National Green Tribunal (NGT) or the Supreme Court of India, continues to play a proactive role. Tackling air and water pollution, waste management, water conservation and management and loss of forests and biodiversity remain the key challenges. April 2020 will see India shift completely from BS-IV to BS-VI emission norms across the country. India continues to move towards cleaner options for mobility, renewable forms of energy and environmentally sustainable methods of manufacturing. India is also exploring the possibility of promoting resource efficiency across various sectors through a proposed National Resource Efficiency Policy.3

Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned at the UN Summit on 23 September 2019 that India would exceed its committed renewable energy capacity of 175 GW by 2022 and that the country would take it further to 450 GW in future. India has been championing the International Solar Alliance and has also pledged to eliminate all single-use plastic in the country by 2022.

Ii LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK

The Constitution of India is one of the few in the world that contain specific provisions on environmental protection.4 The Constitution embodies environmental protection and promotion as a fundamental right guaranteed to Indian citizens.5 That apart, Article 48-A, which forms part of the Directive Principles of State Policy of India, although not enforceable as an obligation of the state, acts as the guiding principle for policy formulation and mandates that the state should endeavour to protect and improve the environment and safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country. Additionally, Article 51-A(g) of the Constitution imposes a fundamental duty on every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment.

Apart from the general constitutional mandate on both the state and the citizens, a suite of statutes also exists that protects and regulates various environmental aspects. The Environment (Protection) Act 1986 (EPA) is the umbrella legislation that deals with environment protection in India.

Some of the other key specialised legislation include:

  1. the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974 (the Water Act), to provide for the prevention and control of water pollution and maintaining or restoring the wholesomeness of water;
  2. the Forest (Conservation) Act 1980, to provide for the conservation of forests;
  3. the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981 (the Air Act), to provide for the prevention, control and abatement of air pollution;
  4. the Biological Diversity Act 2002, to provide for the conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of its components and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the use of biological resources, knowledge and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto; and
  5. the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 (the NGT Act), to provide for the establishment of the National Green Tribunal for the effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and the conservation of forests and other natural resources, including enforcement of any legal right related to the environment, and giving relief and compensation for damage to persons, property and for connected or incidental matters.

These statutes, along with various rules, regulations and notifications, implement the statutory mandate to protect various other facets of the environment in India.

Two key notifications are the Coastal Zone Regulation Notification 2011 (the CRZ Notification) and the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification 2006 (the EIA Notification).6 These notifications regulate the grant of environment clearance to various projects in India. The CRZ Notification notifies the coastal stretches of the country and the water area up to its territorial water limit as a coastal regulation zone and primarily applies to developmental activities undertaken in such zones that impact the coastal environment. The EIA Notification, on the other hand, covers any new constructions or expansion of existing projects listed in the Schedule to the Notification. The Notification prescribes processes such as screening, scoping, public consultation and appraisal of the upcoming project prior to grant of the environment clearance for the project. The main purpose of the exercise is to assess the impact of a proposed project on the environment and the people in an attempt to abate the same. The onus to prove that a project is environmentally benign is on the project proponent.

IIi THE REGULATORS

Government agencies regulating and enforcing environmental and climate change rules in India include the following.

i The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change

The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) is the Ministry responsible for implementation of policies and programmes relating to conservation of the country's natural resources, including its lakes and rivers, its biodiversity, forests and wildlife, ensuring the welfare of animals, and the prevention and abatement of pollution. The MoEF&CC plays a crucial role in granting environmental clearances to certain major projects that are required to seek such clearances from it under the EIA Notification. Certain other projects with lesser perceived environmental impacts are required to seek such clearances from state authorities. The MoEF&CC is also responsible for notifying the environmental standards for various industries, including the emission and effluent standards.

ii Central Pollution Control Board

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is a statutory body responsible for: advising the central government on any matter concerning prevention and control of water and air pollution; executing a nationwide programme for the prevention, control or abatement of water and air pollution; and coordinating the activities of the state boards and resolving disputes between them. The CPCB is the statutory authority at the national level responsible for assessing and recommending to the MoEF&CC for fixing the environmental standards. It is also responsible for issuing technical guidelines for various industries, including the categorisation by colour of industries into red, orange, green and white depending on the nature of the activity, raw materials used and potential to cause damage to the environment etc.

iii State pollution control boards and pollution control committees

Each state has an SPCB and each Union Territory has a PCC entrusted with the implementation of the provisions of the Water Act and the Air Act and for the overall enforcement of the provisions of the EPA and the Rules framed thereunder. SPCBs and PCCs have been given powers that include issuing closure notices to polluting industries, imposition of fines, implementation of remediation measures for restoration of the environment, etc. The SPCB is responsible for the regular monitoring of all industries that require environmental consents to establish and operate. It ensures that all industries operate as per the prescribed environmental standards. An SPCB also has the power to initiate criminal action against polluting industries.

iv Environmental Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority

The Environmental Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority (EPCA) is a technical committee constituted by the central government in compliance with the order of the Supreme Court. The EPCA has the objective of protecting and improving the quality of the environment, and preventing and controlling environmental pollution in the National Capital Region. The EPCA has been playing a crucial role by assisting the Supreme Court in various environment-related matters. The EPCA was first constituted in 1998 but its tenure has been extended ever since. More recently, the recommendations by the EPCA have had a national bearing as its recommendations for the National Capital Region have been found relevant and therefore extended and implemented in various parts of the country by the Supreme Court.

v Other authorities

Additionally, under Section 3(3) of the EPA, the central government is empowered to appoint various authorities to carry out the functions of the central government under the Act. One such authority is the Central Ground Water Authority, which regulates and controls groundwater development and management in the country. Another such authority is the Central Wetland Regulatory Authority, which is responsible for the conservation and management of wetlands in the country.

vi Judicial role in environment regulation

India is one of the very few countries in the world that has a specialised quasi-judicial authority to deal with cases involving a 'substantial question relating to environment'. The NGT, which was constituted in 2010 and comprises of both judicial and technical members, plays a very proactive role in the protection of environment. Environmental matters are also heard by the state high courts and the Supreme Court of India in the form of public interest litigation or under their writ jurisdiction. Appeals from the NGT are heard by the Supreme Court. With environmental issues and concerns gaining centre stage in India, the judiciary has been playing a very proactive role. While the NGT is the specialised tribunal for dealing with environmental disputes, various state high courts and, most importantly, the Supreme Court, have been dealing with environmental matters much more frequently owing to the writ petitions and public interest litigations being filed before them. With criminal prosecution being initiated more frequently in environmental matters by SPCBs, the courts of criminal jurisdiction are also dealing with environmental cases more frequently.

Iv ENFORCEMENT

i Public interest litigation

Since the 1980s, public interest litigation (PIL) has been widely used as an effective tool in India to redress public grievances pertaining to unfair and unjust public policies, arbitrary actions of the government, human rights violations by the state and violation of fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India. A PIL can be filed in the Supreme Court or the state high courts under Articles 32 and 226 of the Constitution, respectively, by any person in India seeking to petition a cause, which may affect a section of the society, regardless of whether the petitioner has a substantial stake in the grievance. PIL has been used as a very effective tool by public-spirited persons and activists in the environmental context. Some of the key principles that have been adopted for the adjudication of environmental disputes are the polluter-pays principle,7 sustainable development,8 precautionary principle, public trust doctrine9 and absolute liability.10

ii Statutory or legal remedy

In 2010, India enacted the NGT Act to provide for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to the environment. Ever since, the NGT has been playing a proactive role in ensuring enforcement of the environmental laws, mainly through the imposition of heavy penalties on erring industries and injuncting industries from proceeding with development of projects that do not have the requisite environmental consents and clearances.

The NGT Act is broadly worded and provides that 'any person' may approach the Tribunal if it is aggrieved by an environment clearance issued to an industry for any development project, directions issued by the SPCBs under the Water Act or the Air Act, any policy decision on benefit sharing by the state biodiversity board, etc.11 Further, any person who is a victim of environment damage, whose property has been damaged, or the CPCB, an SPCB or any local authority constituted under the EPA, may approach the Tribunal for grant, relief, compensation or settlement of a dispute relating to the environment.12 Because of the broadly worded nature of the NGT Act, many environmental activists and non-government organisations who may not be directly or substantially affected by the alleged grievance but who are generally interested in the restitution of the environment, have also been given the right to approach the NGT.

However, in one of its orders13 the NGT directed that every applicant and appellant must approach the concerned authority against which they intend to file an appeal or application and give such authority a time period of 15 days to respond. Thereafter, when the applicant or appellant approaches the NGT, it is obligatory that the response received from the concerned authority is also mentioned in the application or appeal filed before the NGT. This has been done to discourage frivolous litigation in environmental matters besides giving the concerned authorities an opportunity to address the grievance if possible, before it is brought before the NGT for its consideration.

The NGT is bestowed with the power to provide relief and compensation to victims of pollution, pass directions for restitution of damaged property and the environment and impose fines commensurate to the extent of the damage caused and even order imprisonment. The NGT can even punish the head of the government department for non-compliance with the orders of the Tribunal.14 The Tribunal is guided by the principles of sustainable development, the precautionary principle and the polluter-pays principle in its decision-making.15

iii Remedies in criminal law

The Indian Penal Code 1860 and the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 provide for remedies against public nuisance. Public nuisance is essentially an unreasonable interference with the general right of the public. On receipt of a complaint, the magistrate has the power to order the removal of the nuisance complained of within a time-bound period. For instance, in the case of a complaint regarding a company discharging contaminated water, the magistrate may direct the company to immediately stop such discharge, failing which the officials in charge of the company would be liable for imprisonment. Environmental legislation in India, such as the EPA, the Water Act and the Air Act, also has provisions that provide for imposition of a fine and imprisonment. In cases of environmental damage having been caused by projects, instances of criminal proceedings being initiated against the directors of the company have become more frequent. However, in cases where it could be shown that there was no way in which a director could have known about the lapses and violations the official or officials responsible for the operations will have proceedings against them.

V REPORTING AND DISCLOSURE

i General reporting obligations

The Rules framed under the EPA mandate industries to submit a yearly environmental statement disclosing, inter alia, the quantity of water and air pollutants discharged by the industry; the concentration of pollutants in discharges; and the percentage of variants from prescribed standards with reasons.16 The consent to operate or the environment clearance granted for the development activity to be undertaken by an industry also imposes reporting obligations on the person in charge. The reporting obligations in most cases have become quarterly and biannual as per the conditions prescribed in the environmental consent granted and renewed by the SPCBs in various states. With the online monitoring systems being installed in most states and connected to the servers of the SPCB, PCCs and the CPCB, it has become easier for the authorities to monitor and control pollution. It has accordingly become more convenient for the industries to report compliance with prescribed emission and effluent standards.

ii Disclosure of excessive discharge or emissions

The EPA and the Rules framed thereunder also impose an obligation on the person in charge of the place to furnish information to the concerned authorities and agencies regarding occurrence or apprehension of occurrence of discharge of environmental pollutant in excess of the prescribed standards owing to any accident or unforeseen act or event.17 There is a similar obligation under Section 31 of the Water Act of furnishing information to the SPCB if there is discharge or likelihood of discharge of polluting matter in any stream pursuant to an accident, or other unforeseen act or event. Non-compliance with the reporting and disclosure obligations attracts punishment in the form of a fine and imprisonment under the EPA.

Vi ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

i Air quality

The Air Act, in tandem with the EPA, provides for the prevention, control and regulation of air quality in India. Under the Air Act, the CPCB and the SPCB are the designated authorities for this purpose. The state government in consultation with the SPCB has the power to declare any area as 'air pollution control area'.18 A consent to establish, followed by a consent19 to operate, must be taken from the SPCB before establishing any industrial plant. Further, compliance is ensured through regular monitoring and imposition of fines and imprisonment for non-compliance. The industry or operation-specific standards for emission or discharge of environment pollutants are periodically revised by the MoEF&CC through the CPCB.

With increasing concerns about poor air quality in India, especially the national capital region of Delhi, steps such as banning the burning of waste and crop residue, banning the registration of petrol and diesel vehicles older than 15 and 10 years, respectively, and banning the import and usage of petroleum coke as a fuel have been taken. The Supreme Court has ordered20 that from 1 April 2020 only vehicles compliant with BS-VI standards be sold in India. A few automobile companies have already started selling vehicles with BS-VI compliant engines in India.

ii Water quality

The Water Act, along with the EPA, primarily deals with regulation of water resources in India. The Water Act is comprehensive and applies to streams, inland waters, subterranean waters, and sea or tidal water. There is a consent procedure whereby no industry that is likely to discharge sewage or trade effluent can commence operations without the previous consent of the SPCB.21 The Water Act prohibits disposal of polluting matter in excess of the standards established by the EPA or SPCB. Industry or operation-specific standards for the discharge of effluent or the quality of water are periodically prescribed by the MoEF&CC through the CPCB, and enforced by the SPCBs through the consents granted to the industries.22

The National Mission for Clean Ganga under the aegis of the Ministry of Jal Shakti continues to work towards the conservation, rejuvenation and cleaning of the river Ganga as a part of its Namami Gange Programme. Sewerage management projects are being built along the rivers and SPCB has become more stringent in monitoring effluent discharge by industries.

iii Chemicals

The Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemicals Rules 1989 regulate handling and dealings in hazardous chemicals. The rules apply to industrial activities in which a hazardous chemical as specified in the schedule to the rules is involved. Any industrial activity in which there might be a threshold quantity of a hazardous chemical is not to be undertaken without approval from the relevant authority.23 The rules further cast an obligation on the entity which has control of such industrial activity to provide evidence to show that it has identified the major accident hazards and taken adequate steps to prevent major accidents or limit their consequences to persons (including persons working on the site) and the environment. The rules require the occupier to notify any major accident within 48 hours to the concerned authority and thereafter furnish a report relating to the accident in instalments in the format prescribed in the schedule to the rules. The authority concerned is in turn required to undertake full analysis of a major accident and send the requisite information to the MoEF&CC.24

iv Solid and hazardous waste

The waste management rules of the country were completely revamped in 2016.25 As part of this initiative, the government has notified the Solid Waste Management Rules 2016 (the SW Rules) and the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules 2016 (the HW Rules). The new HW Rules provide for a single window clearance for setting up a hazardous waste disposal facility and import of other wastes.26 Co-processing of waste has been given preference over disposal. The approval for co-processing of hazardous waste to recover energy has been streamlined on an emission norms basis. The import or export of waste under the HW Rules was streamlined and the list of waste regulated for import or export has been revisited. Further, import of scrap metal, paper waste and various categories of electrical and electronic equipment for reuse purposes no longer needs the permission of the MoEF&CC. Since January 2016, new guidelines are in place to determine financial liability for causing contamination due to improper handling, storage, transport or disposal of hazardous substances.

The new SW Rules introduced the concept of segregating and storing the waste generated at source in three separate streams, namely biodegradable, non-biodegradable and domestic hazardous waste, in suitable bins before the same is handed over to authorised waste collectors.27 Further, spot fining for littering and non-segregation has been introduced.

v Contaminated land

The HW Rules together with the EPA, the Water Act and the rules framed by the respective state governments for the regulation of ground water provide the regime for controlling and preventing contamination of land and groundwater by the disposal of hazardous wastes. The rules impose the liability for damage caused to the environment or third party as a result of improper handling and disposal of hazardous waste on the occupier, importer, exporter and operator of a facility. The occupier and operator are also liable to financial penalties as may be levied by the SPCB in consultation with the CPCB.

VII CLIMATE CHANGE

In his address at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York on 23 September 2019, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned that India's action plan to combat climate change was in consonance with the international goals and India's climate change commitments. Mr Modi highlighted that 'need and not greed' has been India's guiding principle in tackling climate change. While reiterating that 'an ounce of practice is worth more than tonnes of teaching', the Prime Minister highlighted the environment protection and climate change mitigation initiatives undertaken by India. These included efforts to promote electric mobility, increasing usage of bio-fuels to reduce fossil-fuel consumption and promoting electricity generation through renewable sources. At the UN Climate Action Summit, India along with Sweden launched the leadership group for transition of heavy industries towards zero net carbon emissions by 2050.

Mentioned below are some of India's key initiatives for climate change adaptation and mitigation.

i Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI)

The Prime Minister launched the CDRI at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York in September 2019. CDRI has been supported by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and has its headquarters in New Delhi at present. The goal of CDRI is to quickly develop climate resilient infrastructure and retrofit existing infrastructure to develop resilience and minimise infrastructure losses. CDRI will include both developing and developed nations and will work in areas of governance and policy, emerging technologies, risk identification and estimation, recovery and reconstruction, resilience standards and certification, finance and capacity development. The Indian government has provided an in-principle approval for a corpus of approx US$70 million to fund technical assistance and research projects for CDRI for next five years. The initiative would help protect the vulnerable population residing in disaster-prone areas in India and in other countries.

ii India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP)

ICAP was launched on 8 March 2019 to provide sustainable cooling and thermal comfort for all while securing environmental and socio-economic benefits for the society and reducing both direct and indirect emissions. The objective of ICAP is to (1) reduce cooling demand across sectors by 20 per cent to 25 per cent by 2037–38, (2) reduce refrigerant demand by 25 per cent to 30 per cent by 2037–38, (3) reduce cooling energy requirements by 25 per cent to 40 per cent by 2037–38, (4) recognise 'cooling and related areas' as a thrust area of research under national science and technology programme, and (5) the training and certification of 100,000 servicing sector technicians by 2022–23, synergising with Skill India Mission. The government believes that over and above the environmental benefits, ICAP would also provide the following benefits to the society: (1) thermal comfort for all – provision for cooling for economically weaker sections and lower income group housing, (2) sustainable cooling – low green-house gas emissions related to cooling, (3) doubling farmers income – better cold chain infrastructure – better value of produce to farmers, less wastage of produce, (4) skilled workforce for better livelihoods and environmental protection, (5) Make in India – domestic manufacturing of air-conditioning and related cooling equipment and (6) robust research and development on alternative cooling technologies – to provide impetus for innovation in the cooling sector.

iii Clean Energy Initiative

India achieved 100 per cent household electrification in 2019 under the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (Saubhagya). To achieve its emission-reduction targets, India has set itself the goal to achieve a renewable power capacity of 175 GW by 2022. This would help India honour its climate change commitments.

As a part of its clean coal technology initiative, India has mandated all new large coal-based generating stations to use supercritical technology, besides setting mandatory targets for old thermal power stations to improve energy efficiency; however, more than 60 per cent of India's energy requirement is still based on thermal energy and the transformation from coal to clean energy must therefore be gradual. The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) also issued a Renewable Purchase Obligations Regulation, specifying the share of renewable energy in the electricity mix. To assist in meeting renewable purchase obligations, the CERC has set up the renewable energy certificate mechanism enabling the obliged entities to purchase renewable energy certificates to meet their commitments.

iv Mobility and public transportation

India will adopt the BS-VI emission norms for its vehicles from 1 April 2020. To address its air pollution related challenges, India has taken the leap from BS-IV to BS-VI emission standards and, as per the direction of the Supreme Court of India, any vehicle that does not adhere to BS-VI emission norms will not be sold in India from 1 April 2020. BS-VI compliant fuel is already available in Delhi. Petrol vehicles older than 15 years and diesel vehicles older than 10 years have been banned in Delhi. The government has already started ordering electric vehicles for its offices, and to dispose of old vehicles, draft guidelines for setting up, authorisation and operation of Authorised Vehicle Scrapping Facility (AVSF) is in the works.

In the aviation sector, the Director General of Civil Aviation is undertaking initiatives such as efficiency in use of aircraft power supply, fuel efficiency, single-engine taxi and data reporting. Indian Railways besides having launched its first solar-powered train and first solar-powered railway station, is undertaking various initiatives including using solar-powered railway coaches. As a part of the World Bank-aided Jal Marg Vikas Project multi-modal terminals and navigational lock has been proposed in the 2019 Union Budget. Four times more cargo is being proposed to be transported through the Ganga waterways in the next four years. Be it roadways, railways, airways or waterways, there is an unprecedented push by India towards non-polluting modes of mobility.

VIII OUTLOOK AND CONCLUSIONS

Environmental compliance has become critical for doing business in India. As a result, India is witnessing an unprecedented phase of stringent environmental norms and stricter enforcement. The new laws focus on self-regulation, while imposing severe penalties for misrepresentation or suppression of facts and providing for environmental offences being cognisable and non-bailable. The proactive role of the judiciary, especially the NGT, has ensured that compliance is mandatory. The forfeiture of bank guarantees by SPCBs, imposition of heavy fines on violators, issuance of closure notices and other such stringent steps are the order of the day. Invoking the 'deep pocket principle' and the 'last man standing principle' is a common practice. Assessing and addressing environmental risk is material to doing business in India. Regulations are being revised rapidly. Environmental risk is no longer a technical issue, but has to be seen in light of public perception and community expectations. The CPCB, based on NGT directions, has devised a formula for calculation of environmental compensation in cases of environmental violations based on factors such as pollution index of the industrial sector, number of days of violation, scale of operation and location of the industry. The NGT has, in recent times, prohibited expansion of industries in polluted areas or areas with scarcity of water. There is an increased focus on electric mobility. There is also a need for climate financing to support initiatives for climate change adaptation and mitigation.

India has moved up to 11th in the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) 2019. This is despite the country not having fared well in the Environment Performance Index (EPI) 2018 where it was ranked at 177 out of 180 countries.

While environmental consciousness in India has moved from philanthropy to the mandatory corporate social responsibility, India has a long way to go if the EPI is any indication of its performance on environmental parameters. This essentially means that Indian industries must pay much more attention to environmental compliances and issues relating to water conservation, afforestation, pollution control and mitigation and the related health and safety issues. Non-compliance is no longer an option. The focus has shifted from compliance and operational risks to sustainability risks involving water, waste, climate change, energy efficiency, product safety and regulatory changes. Environmental issues continue to determinine the business strategy in India.


Footnotes

1 Sanjeev Kapoor is a senior partner and Nawneet Vibhaw is a partner at Khaitan & Co.

2 World Bank, 'Doing Business 2020: Sustaining the pace of reforms', 24 October 2019.

3 The Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy 2019 was prepared and circulated by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change on 23 July 2019 inviting comments from stakeholders.

4 Shyam Divan and Armin Rosencranz, Environment Law And Policy In India, 2nd Edition.

5 The right to a clean environment has been recognised as an integral part of right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

6 These notifications have been issued by the central government under Section 3 of the EPA.

7 The Supreme Court of India in the case of Indian Council for Enviro-Legal Action v. Union of India AIR 1996 SC 1446 has held that, 'The polluter pays principle means that absolute liability of harm to the environment extends not only to compensate the victims of pollution, but also to the cost of restoring environmental degradation. Remediation of the damaged environment is a part of the process of sustainable development.'

8 In Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum v. Union of India, AIR 1996 SC 2715 the Supreme Court held that, 'The traditional concept that development and ecology are opposed to each other, is no longer acceptable. Sustainable development is the answer.'

9 MC Mehta v. Kamal Nath (1997) 1 SCC 388: The Supreme Court used this doctrine for the first time in this case in the context of protection and preservation of natural resources and held that the state is under a duty to protect natural resources and they cannot be converted into private ownership.

10 MC Mehta v. Union of India, AIR 1987 SC 1086: the Supreme Court departed from the English law of strict liability and evolved the principle of absolute liability. It held that an enterprise engaged in an inherently dangerous activity owes an absolute duty to the community to ensure that no harm is caused by the activities undertaken by it. Since the pronouncement of this judgment, the defence of reasonable care and absence of negligence are no longer valid defences for enterprises engaging in inherently dangerous activities to avoid liability.

11 Section 16 of the NGT Act.

12 Section 18 of the NGT Act.

13 Order dated 19 July 2018 by NGT, New Delhi in the case of Shivpal Bhagat v Union of India.

14 Sections 26 to 28 of the NGT Act.

15 Section 20 of the NGT Act.

16 Rule 14 of the Environment (Protection) Rules 1986.

17 Section 9 of the EPA read with Rule 12 of the Environment (Protection) Rules 1986.

18 Section 19 of the Air Act.

19 Section 21 of the Air Act.

20 Supreme Court Order, dated 24 October 2018 in MC Mehta v. Union of India.

21 Section 25 of the Water Act.

22 Section 24 of the Water Act.

23 Rule 7 of the Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemicals Rules 1989.

24 Rule 5 of the Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemicals Rules 1989.

25 While the rules relating to electronic, biomedical, plastic, solid and hazardous wastes were revised, new rules relating to the management and handling of construction and demolition waste were brought into effect in 2016.

26 Rules 6 and 13 of the HW Rules.

27 Rule 4 of the SW Rules.