Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act or Water Act – A Step to Control Pollution

Water pollution is the contamination of water by changing its physical or chemical properties. The discharge of sewage or any other liquid, gas, or solid waste into water (whether directly or indirectly) may cause a nuisance or endanger public health or environmental safety.

So, the government passed the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, also referred to as Water Act in India, to prevent and control pollution. The Act intends to keep or restore the healthy nature of water and carry out the objectives of its enactment.

Features of Water(Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1974

The Water Act aimed to establish a Central and State Pollution Control Board at the Central and State level for each state and give the powers to members to regulate the Activities.

To carry out the Board’s stated aims and functions, the Board has 17 members. There are some features of the act established for its effective implementation. These are:

  • Plan a comprehensive program to prevent and control water pollution.
  • To advise the State Government on any water pollution prevention, control, or abatement issues.
  • To collect and distribute information on water pollution, including prevention, control, and reduction.
  • To promote, conduct, and engage in studies and research relevant to water pollution concerns, prevention, control, or reduction.
  • To work and inspect sewage or trade effluents and review water relating purifications or grant requirements in the act.
  • To establish and alter or annually revise effluent limits for sewage and trade effluents.
  • To develop cost-effective and dependable sewage and trade effluent treatment methods.
  • To review and consider soil, climate, and water resources of different regions.

Compliance and enforcement of the Water Act

It is the prime duty and accountability of the Central Board members to save from pollution. The Board members have the authority to inspect industries/ projects and are required actions to be done from time to time to check and ensure compliance with the Water Act.

The main checklist for compliance under Water Act by the board members includes:

Check the industry’s consent status

After completing the project, new units must obtain permission to operate under the Water Act of 1974 and the Air Act of 1981 before beginning even trial production. There will be no separate trial consent granted, and the initial permission to operate will include trial permission.

Under the provisions of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1974, such industrial units must apply for permission to operate through the online Consent Management and Monitoring System (CMMS).

Manufacturing and production

During the manufacturing process, raw resources get transformed into usable products. However, some manufacturing by-products, such as waste materials or compounds produced during the manufacturing process, may be harmful to the environment.

Manufacturing contributes to air and water pollution. The Board Members inspect any control equipment, industrial plant, or manufacturing process at all reasonable times and make, by order, such instructions to pollutants as it may deem necessary to take actions for the prevention and control.

Pollution sources

Water pollution is when chemicals contaminate water sources and are unfit for drinking, cooking, cleaning, swimming, and other activities. Chemicals, waste, bacteria, and parasites are some examples of pollution.

The Board members take necessary actions to modify, alter or extend the existing system to construct new sewage/trade effluents disposal systems and take necessary remedial measures to prevent and control water pollution.

Water cess Payment

Every person who runs an industry or a local government that uses water, regardless of where the water comes from, must pay a cess based on the amount of water consumed.

The cess is collected to support the resources of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) for water pollution prevention and control, as mentioned in the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1974.

History of Water(the Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act

There were two key elements to British colonial water law:

  • First, the incorporation of common rules governed water control and rights, stressing landowners’ rights to access water.
  • Second, many regulatory acts were passed, including regulations to protect and maintain embankments, purchase land for embankments, and task the Controller to enforce them.

Union Legislation and the Constitution guarantee the continuation of all legislation in effect at the constitution’s adoption. According to the scheme provided in the Government of India Act (1935), water is a state subject.

In 1972, the United Nations Conference on Human Environment was convened in Stockholm, Sweden, to take adequate measures to protect the earth’s natural resources.

India was one of the most active players. As a result, it pushed for and implemented actual actions to create a unified legal framework across the country for broad environmental issues that jeopardise human health and safety.

Based on the guidelines of the conference, the government of India enacted the Water Pollution Act.

Terms and conditions of board members

  • A member in a Board, other than a member-secretary, shall hold office for three years from the date of his nomination unless otherwise specified by or under this Act.
  • A member in a Board nominated under section 3 of sub-section (2) clause (b)& (e)
  • And sub-section (2) clause (b) & (e) of section 4 shall complete his term of office when he ceases to hold the office or Company or corporation owned, controlled or managed by Central Government or the State Government.
  • The Central Government or, as the case may be, the State Government may, after providing him with a reasonable opportunity to show cause, dismiss any member of a Board before the expiration of his term of office.

Penalties and fines under the Water Act

Section 42 of the Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 prohibits:

  • pulling down pillars,
  • obstructing any person acting under the orders or direction of the Board,
  • damaging any property or work belonging to the Board, and
  • failing to provide any officer or employee of the Board with any required information.

The penalties for the prohibition of the act provisions include a sentence of jail for a three months term or a fine of up to Rs. 10,000/- or both.


In India, water contamination is a severe issue. The right to a pollution-free environment has been incorporated into the Indian Constitution’s fundamental right to life. The statutory framework for water pollution includes provisions of municipal laws.

The provisions related to public nuisance for water pollution prevention are included under civil and criminal laws.

Water pollution is a major problem in India—controlling and preventing it is even more difficult. Because we have not been able to raise public awareness about the importance of conserving water bodies, the Water Act undoubtedly establish several agencies that will work to prevent and control water pollution.

The Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act also establishes various procedures for filing complaints and the powers of every board.


What is the main aim of the Water Act?

The purpose of the Water Act 1974 is to prevent and regulate water contamination.

What are the established bodies in Water Act?

The Act also gives established bodies like the central board and the state board some powers to control the pollution of water bodies.

What are the Powers of the Central Board?

Develop groundwater policies, programmes, and practices with active participation from all stakeholders to monitor and enable the use of the country's groundwater resources sustainably.

What are the prohibitions mentioned in Water Act?

Poisoning, hazardous substances and chemicals from Industries into any water stream is prohibited in Water( prevention and Control)Act.

What are the other Water regulations?

Other water regulations are Water Withdrawal Regulations, the Well Construction Regulations, the Water Supply and Wastewater Treatment Systems Regulations and the Sewage Disposal Systems Regulations.

About Author

I am a law final year student and an aspirant for Company Secretary (CS) who is keenly interested in Company law and other commercial laws.

I have cracked the first level of the CSEET exam & also I have written a couple of research papers, articles, and blogs few of them got published.

I have worked under a few law firms and gained practical experience in the field of company law, civil law, and criminal law. In my previous internship, I assisted different company & consumer disputes and helped the counsel in researching and drafting.

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