MoEF mulls stringent penalties for green violators

The Environment Ministry is mulling stringent penalties including financial and criminal action for violators by bringing amendments to the Environment Protection Act and creating a "reign of enforcement".

New Delhi: The Environment Ministry is mulling stringent penalties including financial and criminal action for violators by bringing amendments to the Environment Protection Act and creating a "reign of enforcement".

Rating itself six on a scale of 10 for its first year's performance, it said it wants to increase people's participation in all its schemes for achieving green growth.

"On a scale of 10, I will give 6 and we will try achieve the remaining 4 next year. People will give me 10 out of 10 after five years. Because I always think that we have done a lot. But there is lot more to be done," Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar told PTI.

He said that the key target of his Ministry for the second year would be "enforcement, improvement of laws and increase people's participation more effectively in all schemes".

"We want to increase penalties for violations. We want to create reign of enforcement because earlier enforcement was completely neglected.

"People used to come and say give any conditions but give permissions. I asked how you can do any business with any conditions? Because they knew that nobody will follow," he said.

Elaborating about the proposed amendments, Environment Secretary Ashok Lavasa said that in order to improve enforcement and compliance levels, the ministry is thinking of introducing a regime of financial penalties and criminal action.

"It is not necessary that one should be sent to jail for violation, why should not be there financial penalties? If you have committed minor, major and not so major offences, there should be provisions of penalties, which we are trying to incorporate in the EPA. So far there is no provision for penalties," he said.

According to Lavasa, the ministry is still in the process of discussion with other ministries on this matter.

"Once the proposal is prepared, it will go for Cabinet approval and then will be introduced in Parliament most probably in the monsoon session," he said.

The proposed penalties will be implemented by the competent authorities depending upon the kind of violation while there will be different categories of offences that goes against the protection and conservation of environment.