MoEF proposes to amend the Environment Protection Act to make the provisions crime-free
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change on Friday sought feedback from experts and other stakeholders as it proposed to make the existing provisions of the Environment Protection Act, 1986, free of offense.
Incidentally, existing EPA provisions will govern penalties in the case of the single-use plastic ban that went into effect on Friday.
The ministry has proposed replacing imprisonment with monetary penalties for “less serious” violations under the EPA, a comprehensive law that replaces other environmental laws such as the Water and Air Act, which would also be exempt from the crime.
However, serious violations of the EPA, which result in grievous hurt or loss of life, will be covered under the provision of the Indian Penal Code.
The amendments also propose to create an “Environmental Protection Fund”, in which the amount of fines will be paid.
A notice issued on Friday said the response received by the ministry suggested criminalizing the provisions of the EPA “to allay the fear of imprisonment for simple violations”.
After scrutinizing the feedback due by July 27, the ministry will come out with a draft notification and initiate another round of objections and suggestions from the public.
A public notice issued by the ministry on Friday said, “In order to make the existing provisions of the EPA, 1986, free of offense, this ministry is examining proposals to make amendments based on the inputs received from various stakeholders.”
Enacted under Article 253 of the Constitution, the EPA came into force on November 19, 1986. The Act “establishes a framework for the study, planning and implementation of the long-term requirements of environmental protection and lays down a system of prompt and adequate response to situations posing a threat to the environment.”
In case of any non-compliance or contravention of the existing provisions of the EPA or the rules of this Act, the violator shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine which may extend to Rs 1,00,000, or with both. ,
In the case of continuation of such contravention, an additional fine up to Rs.5,000/- for every day during which such failure or contravention continues, may be convicted for the first such contravention .
Further, if the contravention continues beyond a period of one year after the date of conviction, the offender shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years.