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    History of air pollution 2 – Focus on Environmental issues in India

    From the 70s onwards, air pollution was recognised as a serious issue by the Indian government and stringent measures were adopted to tackle it “On the one hand, the rich look askance at our continuing poverty - on the other, they warn us against their own methods. We do not wish to impoverish the environment any further and yet we cannot for a moment forget the grim poverty of large numbers of people. Are not poverty and need the greatest polluters?” Indira Gandhi, UN Conference on Human Environment, Stockholm 1972.

    NCEPC, 1972

    In February 1972, a National Committee on Environmental Planning and Co-ordination (NCEPC) was established in the Department of Science and Technology. This was the apex advisory body in all matters pertaining to environmental protection and improvement.

    India, Pollution Control Policy and Programmes by O.P. Dwivedi, Department of Political Studies, University of Guelph, Canada, stated that air pollution problems in India were due to burning of raw coal and cow-dung for heating and cooking purposes, dust and dust storms, thermal electricity, industrial activities, and transportation. A peculiar problem in Indian cities, towns, and villages was the burning of cow-dung, firewood, and raw coal for cooking. Smothering smoke from these fuels was a common feature of many places, particularly in the evenings. The problem was especially acute in winter. Also, many houses did not have proper ventilation systems. Consequently, people faced serious health dangers from such air pollution.

    Dust particles added to other sources of air pollution already prevalent in the atmosphere. Thermal power stations, wherever located, were a major source of air pollution because of the use of high ash-content producing coal. Most of the smokestacks in coal-fired thermal power plants were about 200 feet in height, emitting smoke in the environment. Some of these stacks have mechanical dust collectors which do not operate efficiently. Though air pollution from industrial activity during the 1970s in India had not reached the extent to which it was found in the industrialized nations, it was significant in areas that had such industries such as steel mills, refineries, cement factories, textile mills, tanneries, fertiliser plants, and paper and pulp mills. Very often, these industries were situated near a major settlement and/or freshwater system. Many of these industries used low-grade coal, and most of them did not have adequate pollution abatement facilities.

    As for the transport industry, though it did not individually contribute much to air pollution, wherever localized, it generated serious levels of pollution. Steam engines were still in use in India and consumed the lowest quality of coal. Cars, buses and trucks contributed their share as well. Dwivedi predicted, “As the number of commercial and passenger vehicles increase in the future, the pollution level will also rise correspondingly. At present, air pollution from transportation activities is generally limited to urban centres.”

    Air Pollution Prevention Bill

    In 1974, when the Parliament was considering the Water Pollution Prevention Bill, several members urged the government to introduce a similar measure to control air pollution. Members were concerned that as it took 12 years for the government from the draft stage to finally pass the water pollution prevention legislation, the plan for an air pollution control law may face the same fate. The Ministry of Health had been concerned with the health aspects of air pollution for some time. Therefore, in 1970, the Ministry appointed an Expert Committee on Air Pollution Control which submitted its findings in 1972. Based on its findings, a draft legislation was set-up, akin to water pollution prevention boards and central and state air pollution control boards. Comments were then requested from various governmental agencies including the National Committee on Environmental Planning and Coordination (NCEPC). As of August 1976, the proposed bill had yet to be introduced in the Parliament.

    The Bill aimed at preserving and enhance the air quality, along with the prevention and control of air pollution.

    A Central Air Pollution Prevention and Control Board was proposed---it would have 18 members, including a full-time chairman. These members would represent concerned central government ministries (health, agriculture, science and technology, and petroleum and chemical), electricity boards, chemical and allied industries, and state air pollution prevention and control boards. Two members were to represent the Central Water Pollution Prevention Board. Thus, it was ensured that air and water pollution control activities would have some feedback.

    The legislation also made provision for Central boards. Their main functions were----to advise the government on any matter concerning the conservation and enhancement of air quality, to make recommendations for the prevention or abatement of air pollution, to prepare plans for the same and coordinate these programs with governmental agencies. Additionally, the Central Boards would also advise and cooperate with State Boards and other governmental agencies, to establish a laboratory for carrying out tests, collecting and disseminating information on air pollution, apart from publishing technical data and an annual report.

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    Indian National Committee on Environmental Planning and Coordination

    Indian National Committee on Environmental Planning and Coordination - Volume 6 Issue 4

    Indian National Committee on Environmental Planning and Coordination

    Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 August 2009

    B. P. Pal Show author details B. P. Pal Affiliation:

    National Committee on Environmental Planning and Coordination, Department of Science & Technology, Government of India, Technology Bhavan, New Mehrauli Road, New Delhi-110029, India.

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    Short Communications: Reports, Comments, News, Notes


    Environmental Conservation , Volume 6 , Issue 4 , Winter 1979 , pp. 256

    DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0376892900003349

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    Copyright © Foundation for Environmental Conservation 1979

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    [Solved] Which of the following is considered as a land mark year in

    The correct answer is 1972. Key Points C.P.R. Environmental Education Centre (CPREEC) is established jointly by the Ministry of Environment, Forest &am

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    Which of the following is considered as a land mark year in the history of legislative action in India for environment concerns during which National Committee for Environment Planning and Co-ordination (NCEPC) was set up?

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    1973 1971 1972 1974

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    Option 3 : 1972

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    The correct answer is 1972.

    Key PointsC.P.R. Environmental Education Centre (CPREEC) is established jointly by the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Government of India, and The C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation.The year 1972 marked a watershed in the environmental conservation movement in India. On the eve of the United Nations Conference on Human Environment in 1972, popularly called the Stockholm Conference, the Pitamber Committee was set up to make a report on the state of the environment in India.

    Based on its recommendations, a National Committee on Environmental Planning and Coordination (NCEPC) was constituted by the Government of India in the Department of Science and Technology in order to plan and coordinate environmental programs and policies and advise various ministries on environmental protection.

    Later, this department was elevated to form an exclusive Ministry of Environment and Forests in 1985.

    Additional InformationThe major environment acts of India are as follows-

    The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974

    The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act 1977

    The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981

    The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986

    The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991

    The National Environment Tribunal Act, 1995

    The National Environmental Appellate Authority Act, 1997

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