Environmental crimes in India have continued to increase, with a 4% rise in the number of such offenses recorded between 2020 and 2021, according to a report by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
The report notes that 136,621 environment-related crimes were registered in 2021, compared to 64,471 the previous year.
However, the total cases awaiting trial in courts was 77,401, including cases that had been pending from previous years, as well as new cases.
In addition, only 59,220 cases went to trial in 2021. This means that courts need to resolve 245 cases every day to clear the backlog.
|Year 2021||136,621 cases registered|
|Year 2020||64,471 Crimes reported|
|Year 2019||34,676 Crimes|
|Year 2018||35,196 Crimes|
According to the report, a maximum number of violations (54,024) were recorded under the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act, followed by 7,217 under the Noise Pollution Act and 2,292 cases under the Forest Act and Forest Conservation Act category.
Tamil Nadu recorded the largest number of cases, 46,458, of which 46,433 were under the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act and 23 under the Noise Pollution Act.
Environmental crimes rising in India
This was followed by Rajasthan with 9,387 cases with 7,163 cases under the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act, 1,873 under the Noise Pollution Act, 224 under the Forestry Act and 106 under the Wildlife Protection Act. In addition, 19 cases were registered in Rajasthan under the Air and Water (Pollution Prevention and Control) Act.
The report also noted that the charge rate of states like Andhra Pradesh, Manipur, Sikkim, Mizoram, Nagaland and Odisha is 100 per cent.
Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest number of cases, 1,318, under the Forest Act and Forest Conservation Act, followed by Jharkhand with 265 cases. Rajasthan recorded 99 per cent of the cases (7,163 out of 7,217 cases) under the Noise Pollution Act, followed by 24 cases in Tamil Nadu.
Cases registered in 2020 and 2021
|Law||Cases registered in 2021||Cases registered in 2020||% increase or decrease|
|The Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003||54024||49710||8.68|
|The Forest Act & The Forest Conservation Act,|
|Noise Pollution Acts (State/ Central)||7217||7318||-1.38|
|The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972||615||672||-8.48|
|The Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986||252||992||-74.60|
|The Air (1981) & The Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1974||55||589||-90.66|
|The National Green Tribunal (NGT) Act, 2010||16||199||-91.96|
|Total no of environment-related offences||64471||61767||4.38|
Most cases under the Forest Act were reported from 12 states:
Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar, Assam, and Uttar Pradesh.
Ten states registered a decrease in cases of violation of Forest Law.
Maharashtra, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Meghalaya and Telangana.
Four states, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, accounted for 85 per cent of the cases registered under the Forest Law.
What are the main environmental laws?
Indian Forest Act, 1927: Attempts to consolidate and set aside areas that have forest cover, or significant wildlife, to regulate the movement and transit of forest products. It also defines the procedure to follow to declare an area as Reserve Forest, Protection Forest or Village Forest.
Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 – provides for the protection of wild animals, birds and plants. It extends to the whole of India, except for the State of Jammu and Kashmir, which has its own wildlife law. It has six schedules that give different degrees of protection. Annex I and part II of Annex II provide absolute protection. Annex VI plants are prohibited from growing and planting
Environment (Protection) Act, 1986: Provides for the protection and improvement of the environment and the prevention of dangers to humans, other living things, plants and property based on decisions taken at the United Nations Conference on the Environment Held in Stockholm in June 1972. It was implemented in the wake of the Bhopal gas tragedy.
Air Law (Prevention and Control of Pollution), 1981: Last amended in 1987, the Law attempts to contain the levels of air pollution in the country. The Central Board for the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution will implement the provisions of the Law
Water (Pollution Prevention and Control) Act, 1974: Was enacted to prevent water pollution from industrial, agricultural, and domestic wastewater that can contaminate our water sources. The Law was last amended in 2003.
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