New Delhi, Jul 1 (IANS): In an important development, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change on Friday put out proposed amendments to decriminalise the existing provisions of three important legislations - the Environment, Water and Air Acts - and sought public inputs and experts' comments on it.
Apart from the decriminalisation, the proposed amendments to the three basic building laws also proposes creation of an earmarked fund that can be utilised for paying compensation to the affected parties, for restoration of environment or for reparation. The three funds are to be named as 'Environmental Protection Fund', the 'Water Pollution Remediation Fund' and the 'Air Pollution Remediation Fund'.
The three Acts are the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986, the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
In what can be termed as a good step for the Environment Ministry, this is a major pre-draft consultation step wherein the views and comments from public and experts are being sought at a time when the draft of the proposed amendment is not yet out. The comments/suggestions are to be submitted to the Ministry via a designated mail ID or through letters to the designated officer by July 21, the Ministry's notice said.
As per the current provisions of the three Acts, there is a provision of imprisonment or a monetary fine depending on the severity and second/repeat offence. The amendment to the Environment (Protection) Act proposes that failure or contravention or non-compliance of the provisions of EP Act such as submit reports, furnish information etc. would be dealt through imposing penalty through a duly authorised Adjudicating Officer but in case of serious violations that may lead to grievous injury or loss of life, it would be dealt with relevant IPC sections with the relevant section of the EP Act.
In case of water, the contravention or non-compliance of the provisions of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974 would be dealt with by imposing penalty through adjudicating officer but violations related to prior consent to establish/ operate would attract criminal liability. Violations under several sections are proposed to be dealt with by imposing financial penalties replacing the prosecution in court of law.
Similarly, in case of air, the contravention or non-compliance of the provisions of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 would be dealt with through imposing penalty through an adjudicating officer but violations related to prior consent to establish/operate would attract criminal liability. Just as in case of water, violations pertaining to several sections are proposed to be dealt with through imposition of financial penalties replacing the prosecution in court of law.
In all three instances, the penalty amount would accrue in the respective Fund proposed. The Ministry has claimed that it would be duly audited and accounts submitted to the Parliament.