The Journey of India's Water Act and the Way Forward

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The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) India successfully hosted a webinar titled "The Journey of India’s Water Act and The Way Forward" on June 12, 2024. This event aimed to analyze and discuss the perspectives of various experts on the recent amendments to the Water Act 1974 by the states of Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh.

The webinar featured a panel of distinguished experts including Dr. JS Kamyotra, Dr. Vijai Singhal, and Dr. Sujith Koonan, and was moderated by Dr. Sumita Singhal from CSE. The event was attended by  over 150 individuals from various organizations across the globe.

The session began with a brief introduction of the webinar and the panelists. Structured as a Q&A format, each panelist was asked 2-3 specific questions related to their expertise and experience, followed by several common questions for all panelists were as follows:

  1. Dr Sujith Koonan
  • Can you walk us through the history and development of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act? What are the Act's key provisions, and how do they impact different stakeholders?
  • The National Green Tribunal (NGT) plays a critical role in shaping water governance and policy. Can you elaborate on the NGT's specific functions in addressing water pollution issues and influencing policy development through landmark judgments?
  1. Dr J S Kamyotra
  • Challenges faced by CPCB in implementing of the act prior to the amendment. What is required in terms of strengthening Pollution control and monitoring- Is Water Act addresses all of it?
  • What were the rationale behind the amendments, such as the need for stricter enforcement or increased central oversight? Is there a dilution of the role of the State Pollution Control Board and its impact?
  1. Dr Vijai Singhal
  • Can you walk us through the current state of water pollution in Rajasthan? What are the most pressing issues the state faces?
  • The recent amendment to the Water Act aims to strengthen its effectiveness. What specific changes do you expect this amendment to bring about and what opportunities does this amendment present?

To all the speakers

  • The Water Act has been in place since 1974. In your perspective, how successful has it been in tackling water pollution across India? It's interesting to note that in 2022, only 78 cases were registered under violating the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act? Does it show that we don’t have violations or it is poor enforcement?
  • Recent amendments have been made to the Water Act. In your opinion, will these amendments be sufficient to significantly improve water pollution abatement efforts? If not, what other strategies or actions do you believe are necessary to ensure a more sustainable future for India's water resources?

Each of the panelist stated their own point of view regarding the Water Act 1974, its success, challenges and current changes made in the amendment by the state of Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1974 was a pioneering piece of legislation aimed at addressing water pollution in India. Here are its key aspects:

  • Primarily a state law, the Water Act 1974 grants significant authority to the central government. It established the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) to oversee pollution control measures.
  • Although the states are responsible for implementing the Act, the central government plays a crucial role in monitoring and guiding their actions, ensuring uniform policy application across all states.
  • The effectiveness of institutions like the CPCB is vital, but there is an ongoing need to enhance their human resources and technical capabilities to address emerging pollution challenges effectively.
  • Enhancing the capabilities of the CPCB and SPCBs by increasing their workforce and incorporating advanced technologies for improved monitoring and control of water pollution.
  • Empowering citizens to combat pollution by giving them the authority to take action against polluting industries.
  • Utilizing new technologies such as remote sensing and data analytics to obtain real-time data and predictive insights.
  • Allowing more self-sufficiency in implementation while maintaining central oversight to ensure consistency and address inter-state water pollution issues.

Dr. Sumita Singhal concluded the webinar by summarizing the entire session, addressing questions from the audience, and conducting a poll. We received positive feedback from participants, indicating high levels of engagement and learning.


Programme Manager
Water Programme, CSE
Phone: +91 8884646146



Webinar recording
Webinar Context Setting and Introduction to CSE
Dr Sumita Singhal, Water Programme, CSE
Water Act 1974 and 2024
Dr Sumita Singhal, Water Programme, CSE
Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Bill, 2024
The water (prevention and control of pollution) act, 1974
Our Panel
Member of EAC Industry II,
MoEF&CC and Former Member Secretary, CPCB
Former Chief Environmental Engineer
Rajasthan Pollution Control Board
Associate Professor
Jawaharlal Nehru University
Programme Manager
Water, CSE
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