The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981

The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1981, or the Air Act, in short, was a law passed by the Parliament of India to prevent and control the harmful effects of air pollution in India. This act is seen as the first concrete step taken by the government of India to combat air pollution.

Why should you read about the Air Act 1981?

  • A study has been released in the Lancet Journal in January 2021 about air pollution and its effects on pregnancy. According to the report, air pollution in India increases the risk of pregnancy losses in India and a few other nations in South Asia.
  • India cities of Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai make in the list of top 10 world’s most polluted cities. It has been reported in the recent IQAir’s World Air Quality Report.
  • The issue of stubble burning is a recurrent topic in the news.

The above-mentioned topics seen in the daily current affairs make it important for the IAS Exam candidates to know about the Indian legislation concerning environmental issues. Air Pollution Act 1981 is one of them.

The details from this article will be useful for aspirants appearing for the Government exams this year.

The topic, ‘Air Pollution Act in India’ is important for the Civil Services Examination preparation.

Find notes on similar important topics related to the environment in the linked articles below:

  1. Environment and Ecology Notes for UPSC
  2. Asian Waterbird Census
  3. Bird Diverters
  4. Sankalp Parv Tree Plantation
  5. Environment Performance Index
  6. National Clean Air Programme
  7. Environment Conventions and Protocols

Why was the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1981 passed?

The effects of climate change caused by all forms of pollution became all too apparent in the early 1970s. To mitigate their harmful effects it was believed that nations would need to pass their own laws. Thus during the United Nations General Assembly on Human Environment held in Stockholm in June 1972, a resolution was passed which implored the nations of the world to preserve natural resources such as air.

India itself had issues regarding air pollution due to a wide variety of factors such as stubble burning, improper industrial practices, environmental factors etc. To combat these factors a special law was enacted under the Constitution of India, which was the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1981.

What are the definitions under the Air Act?

The following are the definitions under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act.

  • Section 2(a) defines an ‘air pollutants’ as any solid liquid or gaseous substance which may cause harm or damage the environment, humans, plants, animals or even damage property. A 1987 amendment to the act also added ‘noise’ in the list of harmful substances.
  • The air act defines ‘air pollution’ as the presence of any dangerous pollutant that makes the air unbreathable

Section 2 (g) of the Act also set up the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) whose powers extended to the whole of India. To carry out the directives of the CPCB the act also called for the setting up of the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) for the individual states of India

To know what are the Pollution Measurements adopted by the CPCB visit the linked article

Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981 – UPSC Notes:- Download PDF Here

Penalties and Procedure under the Air Act

The failure to comply with the Central Pollution Control Board directives would result in imprisonment of 1 year. It can be extended to 6 years with a fine with the additional fine of 5000Rs per day added provided the directives are still not met.

For more notes on UPSC Polity, visit the linked article

Any environmental complaint will only be taken into consideration by a court if it is made by the following:

  • An officer authorised by the CPCB
  • A person who has made a complaint to the board or an officer authorised by it. The complaint must be made within sixty days of the offence committed

Get important acts in India in the linked article.

Frequently Asked Questions on Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981


Q 1. What are the key features of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981?

Ans. The key features of the Act include:

  • Advising Central Government of Air and Air Pollution related issues
  • Research about the causes and impact of Air Pollution
  • Spread awareness to stop air pollution
  • To establish central and State Boards and empower them to monitor air quality and control pollution

Q 2. How can air pollution harm the environment?

Ans. Air pollution can lead to global warming, smog, respiratory problems, change in climate and affect the overall biodiversity and ecosystem.

Aspirants can find the complete UPSC Syllabus through the linked article. More exam-related preparation materials will be found through the links given below

Related Links

UPSC MCQs on Environment Environment Questions from IAS Mains GS 3 GS 2 Structure, Strategy and Syllabus for UPSC Mains
UPSC Mains Questions on Polity GS 3 Structure, Strategy and Syllabus for UPSC Mains GS 4 Structure Strategy and Syllabus for UPSC Mains
Topic-wise GS 1 Questions for UPSC Mains Topic-wise GS 2 Questions for UPSC Mains Topic-wise GS 3 Questions for UPSC Mains


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