Center dilutes penal rules in air, water pollution and eco protection laws

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has proposed dilution of penal provisions from three key laws – Environment Protection Act, 1986, Air (prevention and control of pollution) Act, 1986 and Water (prevention and control of pollution) Act , 1974.

The ministry said in a set of notifications that the amendments have been introduced as “suggestions were received for decriminalization of the existing provisions of the said Acts, in order to weed out the fear of imprisonment for simple violations”.

For the EPA, failure or contravention or non-compliance of the provisions of the EPA would be dealt with by imposing a penalty through a duly authorized Adjudicating Officer. “However, in the case of serious violations that lead to grievous injury or loss of life, they shall be covered under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code, 1860,” said the notification.

A similar notification has been issued for the water and air pollution act as well. Under the water pollution act, the Center has additionally said, there are different processes in different states which create confusion among industries and need to be universalised across jurisdictions.

Earlier, under EPA in case of non-compliance, the violator was punishable with imprisonment up to five years or with a fine up to Rs 1 lakh or with both. If it continued further, an additional fine of up to Rs 5,000 for every day during the default period was levied. Further, if the violation continued beyond a period of one year after the date of conviction, the offender was punishable with imprisonment extending to seven years.

The Center has now increased the penalty amount to Rs 5 lakh extended up to Rs 5 crore but has removed the provision of jail term from the first default. The penalty amount for repeated offenses would be equivalent to the damage caused. There is imprisonment only after a defaulter fails to pay a penalty and additional penalty. The MoEFCC has introduced a provision in the Acts that any aggrieved party can now approach the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to appeal against the order passed by any adjudicating officer.

Similar amendments have been made to the air and water pollution act as well.

The ministry said a fund, namely ‘environmental protection fund’. has been created in which the penalty imposed under the third amended Act by the Adjudicating officer would be deposited. This he said would be used for remittance to the affected parties. The amendment however said the Central Government would prescribe the way the Fund would be administered and the manner in which the money shall be drawn.

Universalising the penal provisions, the Center has amended the three acts saying, “the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, would apply to any search or seizures under section 94 of the said Code.”

The ministry has opened the amendments for public comments to be submitted by July 21, 2022.

The series of dilutions come in just two years of MoEFCC facing flak over the watering down of several provisions of Environment Impact Assessment, wherein the Center proposed doing away with public hearing for key infra projects. After several environmental bodies protested against the move, the deadline for comments was extended and the final EIA is yet to be notified.

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practice the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker