The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has released a report on the state of crime in India. They found that overall cases increased by 28% from 2019 to 2020. The 'environmental related offences' category saw much higher rates at 78%.
One of the highest increases in cases has been reported across various crime categories, excluding offences related to COVID-19 regulations.
Environment-related offences include violations of the Forest Act, which aims to protect and maintain a healthy environment for all living things. It also includes The Environmental Protection Act (EPA) enacted in 1986 with provisions regarding air pollution control from industrial activities such as burning fossil fuels or manufacturing products that emit harmful gases into our atmosphere leading up until 2015 when this was replaced by stricter regulations under Section 3(g). There are some more acts which include, the Forest Conservation Act, the Wild Life (Protection) Act, the Air & the Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act, Noise Pollution Acts and the National Green Tribunal Act.
With the rise in environmental crime, India is experiencing an increase. In 2020 alone there were 61,767 reported cases with 78% more than what was seen last year - all without including pending reports that date back to before 2019.
In 2020, the state of Tamil Nadu reported a total number of 42,756 cases related to environment-related crimes which was more than three times higher than in 2019.
Rajasthan came second among the states, with 9543 cases registered in 2020; this number was 10782 in 2019. Uttar Pradesh (UP) held onto its position as third one by registering 2981 cases in 2020.
The Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act was the most commonly violated environmental law in 2020 with 80.5% of total environment-related cases registered under this act, making it four times more likely to be broken than any other type.
Violations of noise pollution control laws by Union and state governments made up the second-largest number among environment related cases. These violations accounted for 11.8 %.
Indian forests are facing a crisis. The number of people filing complaints under the Forest Act and Conservation Act has reached unprecedented levels, with Uttar Pradesh reporting over 1/3rd (1,317) cases in India's total count for these laws combined.
The 1972 Wild Life (Protection) Act reported 672 cases, with UP having the highest number (185) of cases, followed by Rajasthan with 151 cases. Under the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986, 992 cases has been registered, again UP having the highest number of cases at 841.