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Panel proposes enhanced penalty for flouting environment rules

Enhanced penalty and speedy trial to nail green offenders and monitoring of coastal rules violations through satellites are some of the steps the government is mulling.

New Delhi: Enhanced penalty and speedy trial
to nail green offenders and monitoring of coastal rules
violations through satellites are some of the steps the
government is mulling to ensure better implementation of
environmental regulations in the country.

A draft paper envisaging such stringent rules by seeking
an amendment in Environment (Protection) Act 1986 is being
prepared by a panel set up to examine the issues relating to
monitoring compliance of environmental clearance conditions
and will soon be available for public opinion.

It deals with the existing regulatory regime and the
present system of monitoring, its limitations and the proposed
new approach to monitoring which envisages amendment in the EP
Act which in present form has failed to deter companies from
blatantly violating the norms.

"The new proposed approach envisages involvement of
specialised agencies or institutions in the monitoring of
compliance of EC/CRZ conditions depending on their respective
areas of specialisation," a senior environment ministry
official said.

He said that panel pointed to various deficiencies of the
EP Act noting that in its present form it does not have enough
deterrent and punitive provisions.

"The existing process of imposing penalty and punishment
under the EP Act is quite time consuming, sometime taking
years before the case reaches to its conclusive end."

"Hence based on the presentation made and discussions
held, it was felt that action will be taken to amend the Act
to provide for enhancement of penalty for non-compliance and
to modify the procedure so as to decide the penalty and
punishment under the Act expeditiously," the official added.

However, he did not divulge of the exact penalty or
punishment the draft proposes.

Moreover, it was also recognised that for monitoring
of air and water quality and compliance with the emission and
discharge standards involvement of Central Pollution Control
Board (CPCB) and State PCBs would be very useful.

"It will synergise the available resources and will help
in validation of data generated by other monitoring agencies,
noted the panel," said the official.

Use of IT and satellite technology for putting the
information in the public domain and for inter-agency
coordination was also highlighted as recommended by the
Swaminathan Committee in its report related to coastal zones.

The issue relating to involvement of CPCB and SPCBs in
compliance monitoring will be taken up as an agenda during the
forthcoming meeting with SPCBs, the official said.

The monitoring committee whose tenure is upto September
30 will seek comments on the draft approach paper from all the
stakeholders before finalising it.


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