Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974

The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act was enacted in 1974 to prevent and control water pollution and maintain or restore the wholesomeness of water in the country.


Growing industrialization and urbanization in India led to increased water pollution. The Act was passed to implement legal control mechanisms to combat this critical issue.

Key Provisions

Regulation of Pollutants

The Act aims to regulate discharge of domestic and industrial pollutants into water bodies based on established standards. This applies to streams, inland waters, subterranean waters and sea/tidal waters.

Central and State Pollution Control Boards

The Act provides for the establishment of a Central Pollution Control Board and State Pollution Control Boards to implement its provisions. These boards monitor and control water pollution by conducting investigations, inspections and quality testing.

Consent for Establishment

Industries and local authorities discharging sewage or trade effluents are required to obtain consent from State Pollution Control Boards before establishing any facility. The boards ensure adherence to pollution control norms before providing consent.


Non-compliance attracts fines or imprisonment up to 3 months. Subsequent violations can lead to enhanced penalties and unit closure.


The Act is a pioneering attempt to curb rampant water pollution. However, there are some limitations:

  • Ambiguity in norms and coordination between central and state agencies
  • Lack of integration between prevention and control measures
  • Inadequate penalties and funds for effective implementation

Stronger institutional coordination and monitoring mechanisms are required for the Act to realize its objectives. The penalties should be made more stringent and funding increased to tackle this critical issue effectively.

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