Recently, the Rajya Sabha passed the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Bill, 2024 which seeks to amend the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, of 1974.

About Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Bill, 2024: 

  • The bill proposes amendments to the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1974, which currently includes penal provisions for non-compliance or violation of its regulations, punishable by imprisonment. 
  • The emphasis is on achieving a balance between improving the quality of life and facilitating business operations. 
  • The anticipated outcome of these amendments is enhanced transparency in addressing various concerns related to water pollution.

Objects and reasons of the Bill:

  • The proposed amendment aims to rationalize criminal provisions, ensuring that individuals, businesses, and companies can operate without the apprehension of imprisonment for minor, technical, or procedural lapses. 
  • It emphasizes aligning the penal consequences of an offense with its severity.
  •  A significant aspect of the amendment is the decriminalization of penal provisions, replacing them with penalties, with exceptions for sections 25 and 26 of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
  • Section 25 pertains to mandatory consent for operation from state pollution boards, while section 26 deals with the discharge of sewage or trade effluents.
  • The bill grants the central government the authority to exempt specific categories of industrial plants from the application of Section 25, reducing redundancy in oversight and alleviating the burden on regulatory agencies.
  • Sections 41 to 45A of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 provide for the imposition of financial penalties instead of court prosecution.
  • The bill stipulates penalties ranging from ten thousand rupees to 15 lakh rupees for violations related to discharging polluting substances into water bodies.

Prescribe Nomination of Chairperson of State Pollution Control Boards:

  • Under the proposed legislation, the central government will define the process for appointing chairpersons of State Pollution Control Boards. 
  • This amendment introduces specific mandatory criteria, experience, and procedures to ensure an equitable selection process for chairpersons. 
  • Additionally, it grants the central government the authority to provide directives concerning the approval, rejection, or withdrawal of consent by any state board for the establishment of industries, operations, processes, or the implementation of new or modified outlets for treatment and disposal systems.


  • Initially, the application of this law will be limited to Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, and the union territories. Other states have the option to pass resolutions to extend its applicability within their jurisdictions.


  • This move aims to streamline business operations, reducing bureaucratic oversight and enhancing regulatory mechanisms.
  • It liberates businesses from excessive inspections, fostering a more efficient system.
  • The government gains the flexibility to grant specific exemptions to environmentally friendly industries.


  • The government is gradually removing criminal charges for environmental offenses and reducing penalties, particularly to appease the industrial-mining lobby that supports it.
  • The long-term consequences of these lenient policies and exemptions from regulations on the environment are not being adequately considered.
  • The amendments to the Water Pollution Control Act could potentially lead to increased river pollution, prompting the government to invest significant funds in projects like Namo Ganga.
  • Despite spending ₹12,000 crores on cleaning the Ganga river, pollution levels are still on the rise.
  • Critics argue that the bill undermines the federal structure of water management, emphasizing the importance of local and state-level monitoring of water bodies and sources.

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