• Polluting may prove costly as government proposes higher penalties for environmental violations

    March 28, 2016

    The BJP government has took up the case of environmental degradation and has been planning on how to tackle these violators for long now. The Centre has now proposed an amendment in a Bill which would mean that anyone who would incur “substantial damage” to the environment may have to pay in excess of 5 crores as fine. The jump is significant as the earlier punishment for environmental degradation was just a mere 1 lakh rupees. Along with the fine proposed, the amendment also proposed a 7 year jail time for the violator. The government hopes this increase in the penalty will result in decrease in the number of violators or individuals flouting the rules.

    The amendment Bill, which seeks to improve environmental laws and protect the existing ones, is to be presented in the Assembly between April 25th and May 13th, during the second half of the Budget Session. The upper limit for the punishments seems mind boggling. The upper limit for the fine is set to be 20 crores and the imprisonment duration will be set at lifetime. The enormous amount of fine to be paid after the successful inculcation of the amendment in the Bill will keep the huge corporations from polluting the environment. Further, the government also plans to fine the violator a fine of 1 crore per day for every extra day the violator continues the violation.

    "The law ministry has already cleared the draft of the Environment Laws (Amendment) Bill - meant to amend the existing Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 - and sent it back to the environment ministry. It will now go to the Cabinet and will be introduced in the Parliament after the recess", said an official.

    Under the proposed amendment, the violator will be allowed to appeal before the National Green Tribunal against the order of the adjudicating authority. But then, the violator will have to deposit 75% of the amount of penalty imposed by the adjudicating authority.



    The decision to move this amendment in the Parliament has been long overdue. A mere fine of one lakh is pretty small. A hefty fine of one crore seems to be the way to go if we have to stop the huge corporations and influential individuals from polluting Mother Earth. The Bill is supposed to be passed without any objection in the Parliament. Now what is left is the passing of the Bill and its implementation. This comes only days after the huge gala event near Akshardham Temple – World Culture Festival. The whole episode was a matter to forget for both Sri Sri and the NGT. Such incidents will be curtailed and will protect the environmental laws in the future. In the future many such huge corporations will think twice before spreading the grey cloud of pollutants into the lungs of our Mother Earth.

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