Timeline of pollution in India

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This is a timeline of pollution in India, attempting to describe progression in coping with all kinds of pollution in the country. Incumbent environmental policies are included.

Big picture

Time period Development summary
1970s Early government initiatives towards environmental protection begin. Policy responses for the prevention and control of environmental degradation start being implemented in India.[1]
1980s As in the 1970s, a great number of environmental laws are passed. Government initiatives increasingly focus on the pollution of the Ganges.[2] In 1984 the Bhopal disaster occurs.
1990s Reforms on environmental laws are introduced. Since then, for the first time in Indian history, major air pollutant concentrations would drop in every 5 year period.[3] Sulfur dioxide levels in Indian cities start declining due to a fuel shift from biomass-based fuels to liquefied petroleum gas, and from coal to kerosene.[4]
2000s More regulations are introduced during the decade. However, pollution continues to be a serious issue. Sulfur dioxide emissions increase, and water pollution remains concerning. The Delhi’s pollution control program becomes the basis for other cities to adopt similar efforts as heavily polluted Indian cities are identified in the mid-decade.[5]
2010s The largest number of people killed by air pollution worldwide per year are found in India. Towards the end of the decade, India falls in the rank of Environmental Performance Index, ending among the bottom five countries.

Full timeline

Year Month and date Category Event type Details
1853 Water pollution Policy The Shore Nuisance (Bombay and Kolaba) Act is introduced. It is one of the earliest laws to adress water pollution and is able to authorize the Collector of Land Revenue in Bombay to order the removal of any nuisance in Bombay harbour.[3]
1857 Air pollution Policy The Oriental Gas Company Act is introduced.[3]
1860 Water pollution Policy The Indian Penal Code imposes a fine on anyone who voluntarily fouls the water of any public spring or reservoir.[3]
1860s Wastewater management Infrastructure Bombay and Calcutta become the first cities to build sewerage systems, aimed at serving primarily to the needs of European quarters.[2]
1870s Wastewater management Infrastructure The Government of India and the state governments transfer the financial responsibility for urban sanitary infrastructures to the municipalties.[2]
1905 Air pollution Policy The Bengal Smoke Nuisance Act is introduced.[3][6]
1912 Air pollution Policy The Bombay Smoke Nuisance Act is introduced.[3]
1974 Water pollution Policy The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act is introduced.[3][2]
1974 September 22 General Organization The Central Pollution Control Board is formed. It runs nationwide programs of ambient air quality monitoring [7][8][9][10]
1975 – 1995 Air pollution Statistics According to The Centre for Science and Environment, in this period during which the country's economy (gross domestic product or gdp) grew by about 2.5 times the vehicular pollution load grew by eight times.[11]
1980 General Policy The Forest (Conservation) Act is introduced.[3][2]
1980 General Organization The Centre for Science and Environment, one of India’s first environmental NGOs to analyze and study the relationship between environment and development and create public consciousness about the need for sustainable development.[12]
1981 March Air pollution Policy The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act is passed to regulate air pollution.[13][14][3][2]
1982 General Policy India establishes the Pollution Control Board, aimed at monitoring and curbing air, land and water pollution brought on by the booming textile industry in the country.[15]
1985 General Organization The Ministry of Environment and Forests is created by the Indian Government. This ministry is the central administrative organisation in India for regulating and ensuring environmental protection.[3]
1984 December Air pollution Crisis The Bhopal Disaster happens as the world's worst short-term civilian pollution crisis.[16]. An accident at the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal releases at least 30 tons of methyl isocyanate, a highly toxic gas. More than 600,000 people are exposed, and between 3,800 and 16,000 people are killed. Government figures later refer to an estimate of 15,000 killed over the years.[17][18][19]
1985 Water pollution Program The Indian Government devises the "Ganga Action Plan", an ambitious and heavily funded plan to clean the Ganges river.[2]
1986 November General Policy Triggered by the Bhopal Disaster, the Government of India enacts the Environment Protection Act. The purpose of the Act is to implement the decisions of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment.[20][3][2][10]
1992–2010 Research Satellite data analized during the period confirms India's forest coverage has increased for the first time by over 4 million hectares, a 7% increase.[3]
1995 Water pollution Research Report claims that 114 Indian cities dump untreated sewage and partially cremated bodies directly into the Ganges River.[21]
1995–2010 General Recognition During this period, India is recognized as having made some of the fastest progress in addressing its environmental issues and improving its environmental quality in the world.[22][23]
1996–2010 Air pollution Study According to study, oxides of nitrogen emissions from Indian thermal power plants increased at least 70% over this period.[4]
1996 Water pollution Policy The Pollution Control Board issues orders to the textile units to remove colour from the effluents before discharging it into the rivers.[15]
1999 Noise pollution Policy A draft of Noise Pollution (Control and Regulation) Rules is published under the notification of the Government of India in the Ministry of Environment and Forests.[24]
1999 General Policy The Supreme Court of India adopts Delhi’s pollution control program, designed by the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority. The Delhi program becomes the basis for other cities to adopt similar efforts.[5]
1999 Air pollution Policy The Indian Government introduces the first-ever fuel specifications based on environmental considerations, the push for higher emission standards.[25]
2000 Noise pollution Policy The Government of India enacts a set of Noise Pollution (Regulation & Control) Rules.[3]
2001 General Policy The Energy Conservation Act establishes the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, which is tasked with reducing the energy intensity of the economy.[26]
2004 Water pollution Policy The Pollution Control Board begins to ask factories to implement zero liquid discharge.[15]
2005–2014 Air pollution Research Data from Nasa’s Aura satellite shows that total sulfur dioxide emissions over India have nearly doubled in the period.[4]
2006–2008 Water polution Research In 2006, 47 percent of water quality monitoring reports coliform concentration above 500 MPN/100 ml. By 2008, 33 percent of all water quality monitoring stations would report a total coliform level exceeding those levels, suggesting efforts to add pollution control infrastructure and upgrade treatment plants in India, which may be reversing the water pollution trend.[27]
2007 November Air pollution Research A 25-year-long study on 27,000 children finds that 50% Bangalore kids are hit by asthma.[28]
2007 Water pollution Research A study finds that discharge of untreated sewage is the single most important cause of pollution of surface and groundwater in the country.[1]
2008 Water pollution Research A joint study by PGIMER and Punjab Pollution Control Board ireveals that in villages along the Nullah, fluoride, mercury, beta-endosulphan and heptachlor pesticide are more than permissible limit (MPL) in ground and tap water. Plus the water has high concentration of chemical and biochemical oxygen demand, ammonia, phosphate, chloride, chromium, arsenic and chlorpyrifos pesticide. The ground water also contains nickel and selenium, while the tap water has high concentration of lead, nickel and cadmium.[29]
2008 Water pollution Research Study reports wastewater generation in urban India to be 38,254 million liters per day, out of which 26,467 million liters per day was untreated.[1]
2009 February 20 Water pollution Organization The National Ganga River Basin Authority is established by the Central Government of India. It also declares Ganges as the "National River" of India.[30][31]
2009 Water pollution Program The Indian Government establishes the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) and initiates the "Mission Clean Ganga". The program in supported by the World Bank with one billion dollars.[2]
2010 Water pollution Research A water quality monitoring finds almost all rivers with high levels of biochemical oxygen demand (a measure of pollution with organic matter). The worst pollution, in decreasing order, were found in river Markanda (490mg/l BOD), followed by Kali river (364), river Amlakhadi (353), Yamuna canal (247), Yamuna river at Delhi (70) and Betwa river (58). For context, a water sample with a 5-day BOD between 1 and 2 O/L indicates a very clean water, 3 to 8 O/L indicates a moderately clean water, 8 to 20 indicates borderline water, and greater than 20mg O/L indicates ecologically-unsafe, polluted water. The levels of BOD are severe near the cities and major towns. However, in rural parts of India, the river BOD levels were sufficient to support aquatic life.[32][33]
2010 Air pollution Statistics The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) finds that in the year, particulate matter in the air of 180 Indian cities was six times higher than World Health Organization standards.[34]
2010 General Organization The Indian Government establishes dedicated green courts in the form of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to rapidly resolve environmental cases.[25]
2011 Air pollution Policy The Indian Government sets up its National Mission for Electric Mobility, which aims to promote electric vehicle (EV) and hybrid manufacturing.[26]
2012 Air pollution Research An estimated 1.5 million people died from the effects of air pollution in the country in the year, according to data from the World Health Organization.[35]
2013 September Air pollution Research Study on non-smokers finds that Indians have 30% lower lung function compared to Europeans.[36]
2015 April Air pollution Index release The Government of India, together with IIT Kanpur launch the National Air Quality Index, an alert system that notifies the public about air pollution levels and associated health risks. The project aims to increase public awareness.[37][34][38]
2015 Air pollution Statistics India overtakes the United States and becomes the world’s second largest coal consumer after China.[26]
2015 December Air pollution Policy India sets new emissions standards for air pollution from coal plants for compliance in 2017, with looser standards for older plants.[26][39]
2015 Air pollution Policy The FAME India (Faster Adoption and Manufacture of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles) Scheme is adopted to subsidize electric and hybrid cars, mopeds, rickshaws and buses.[40]
2015 General Statistics Study reports that of 6.5 million people killed by air pollution worldwide during the year, the largest number, about 1.8 million, lived in India.[25]
2016 General Statistics The Environmental Performance Index ranks India 141 out of 180 countries.[41]
2016 General Statistics A study by the World Health Organization reports that fourteen of the twenty world’s most polluted cities are in India.[42]
2017 Air pollution Research Study published in The Lancet estimates that in the year air pollution killed 1.24 million Indians — half of them younger than 70, which lowers the country’s average life expectancy by 1.7 years. The 10 most polluted cities in the world are all in northern India.[43]
2017 Air pollution Statistics India ranks the third largest producer of territorial fossil fuel CO2 emissions worldwide.[44]
2018 January General Statistics India ranks 177 out of 180 in Environmental Performance Index, among the bottom five countries, and plummeting 36 places from 141 in 2016.[41]
2019 Air pollution Program India launches 'The National Clean Air Programme' with tentative national target of 20%-30% reduction in PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations by 2024, considering 2017 as the base year for comparison. It would be rolled out in 102 cities that are considered to have air quality worse than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.[45]
2019 March General Statistics According to Greenpeace, 22 of world's 30 most polluted cities are in India.[46]
2019 June Air pollution Research The Centre for Science and Environment, an environment think tank, reports that life expectancy in India has gone down by 2.6 years due to deadly diseases caused by air pollution. The report reveals that outdoor and household air pollution together are causing deadly diseases.[47]
2019 June Air pollution Research Study reports on air pollution killing more than 100,000 children under five every year.[48]
2020 Air pollution Program India is expected to advance the date for stricter fuel and emission norms by this time, so new vehicles sold after it would be far cleaner.[43]
2030 Air pollution Policy India pledges a 33-35% reduction in the “emissions intensity” of its economy by the time, compared to 2005 levels.[26]
2030 Air pollution Policy All new urban buses are planned to be fully electric by the time.[26]

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See also

External links


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  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 Wilhelm, Janine. Environment and Pollution in Colonial India: Sewerage Technologies along the Sacred Ganges. 
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 "History of pollution in India". pollutedindia.weebly.com. Retrieved 15 May 2019. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Bhuyan, Ragini. "So, how polluted is India's air, really?". livemint.com. Retrieved 12 June 2019. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Pathways for Developing a Natural Gas Vehicle Market". csis.org. Retrieved 14 June 2019. 
  6. "Smoke laws first enacted in city of joy". downtoearth.org.in. Retrieved 10 June 2019. 
  7. "Central Pollution Control Board". cpcb.nic.in. Retrieved 29 April 2019. 
  8. "Central Pollution Control Board". iasupsc.com. Retrieved 11 June 2019. 
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  10. 10.0 10.1 Advanes in Water Quality & Management. 
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  12. "Anil Agarwal". cseindia.org. Retrieved 18 May 2019. 
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  18. "30 years of Bhopal gas tragedy: a continuing disaster". downtoearth.org.in. Retrieved 11 June 2019. 
  19. Broughton, Edward. "The Bhopal disaster and its aftermath: a review". PMC 1142333Freely accessible. PMID 15882472. doi:10.1186/1476-069X-4-6. 
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  31. "Composition of NGRBA."
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  33. Kaur et al., Wastewater production, treatment and use in India UN Water (Publisher)
  34. 34.0 34.1 "India Announces National Air Quality Index to Increase Public Awareness". nrdc.org. Retrieved 10 June 2019. 
  35. "Bulletin of the World Health Organization". who.int. Retrieved 24 May 2019. 
  36. "Indians have 30% weaker lungs than Europeans". Times of India. Sep 2, 2013. 
  37. "Choking India gets air quality index". economictimes.indiatimes.com. Retrieved 14 June 2019. 
  38. "National Air Quality Index". iitk.ac.in. Retrieved 10 June 2019. 
  39. "New thermal power plants will have to comply with emission standards". timesofindia.indiatimes.com. Retrieved 10 June 2019. 
  40. "What is FAME India Scheme?". indianeconomy.net. Retrieved 15 June 2019. 
  41. 41.0 41.1 "India ranks 177 out of 180 in Environmental Performance Index". economictimes.indiatimes.com. Retrieved 10 June 2019. 
  42. "Indian cities and air pollution". orfonline.org. Retrieved 12 June 2019. 
  43. 43.0 43.1 "Dirty air: how India became the most polluted country on earth". ig.ft.com. Retrieved 15 May 2019. 
  44. "Largest producers of territorial fossil fuel CO2 emissions worldwide in 2017, based on their share of global CO2 emissions". statista.com. Retrieved 24 May 2019. 
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  46. Van Mead, Nick. "22 of world's 30 most polluted cities are in India, Greenpeace says". theguardian.com. Retrieved 12 June 2019. 
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  48. "Air pollution kills 100,000 Indian children every year, study says". cbsnews.com. Retrieved 12 June 2019.