Updated: July 2, 2022 8:02:22 am
The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change sought feedback from experts and other stakeholders on Friday as it proposed to decriminalise the existing provisions of the Environment Protection Act, 1986.
Incidentally, the current EPA provisions will govern the penalties in case of the single-use plastic ban that came into effect Friday.
The ministry has proposed to replace imprisonment with monetary penalty for the “less severe” contraventions under the EPA, an overarching law that supersedes other environment laws such as the Water and Air Act, which will also be decriminalised.
However, serious violations of EPA which lead to grievous injury or loss of life shall be covered under the provision of Indian Penal Code.
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The amendments also propose the creation of an “Environmental Protection Fund’’ in which the amount of penalty will be remitted.
A notice issued Friday stated that feedback received by the ministry suggested decriminalisation of the provisions of the EPA “in order to weed out fear of imprisonment for simple violations”.
Once the feedback, due by July 27, is examined, the ministry will come out with a draft notification and begin another round of objections and suggestions from the public.
“In order to decriminalise the existing provisions of the EPA, 1986, this ministry is examining the proposals to make amendments… based on inputs received from various stakeholders,’ a public notice issued by the ministry Friday stated.
Enacted under Article 253 of the Constitution, the EPA came into force on November 19, 1986. The Act establishes “the framework for studying, planning, and implementing long-term requirements of environmental safety and laying down a system of speedy and adequate response to situations threatening the environment.”
In case of any non-compliance or contravention of the current provisions of the EPA, or of the rules under this Act, the violator can be punished with imprisonment up to five years or with a fine up to Rs 1,00,000, or with both.
In case of continuation of such violation, an additional fine of up to Rs 5,000 for every day during which such failure or contravention continues after the conviction for the first such contravention can be levied.
Further, if the violation continues beyond a period of one year after the date of conviction, the offender can be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years.
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