Hefty fine and possible jail time for violating environmental laws

New Delhi: The Government of India has put forward a proposal to empower civil servants at the rank of joint secretary at central level and secretary at state level to set fines to be imposed on violators of laws relating to the protection of the environment.

According to the draft law prepared in this regard, those who object to the fine imposed on them can file an appeal to the National Green Court within 60 days of receiving the order.

Fine and jail

Meanwhile, failure to pay the fine could result in a prison term of up to three years or an additional fine of up to Rs 10 crore or both, the bill says. The project also suggests the creation of a special fund for environmental protection with the money collected in the form of fines.

Related changes

In the meantime, the central government has decided to change the rules on waste disposal and pollution control also along the same lines, for which the Water (Pollution Prevention and Control) Act 1974 and the Air (Pollution Prevention and Control) Act 1981 to be amended.

The draft says that instead of criminal charges being brought against offenders under existing laws, fines can be charged after the amendment.

Insurance cover

The Union Department of Environment, Forestry and Climate Change is also considering a proposal to avoid prosecution in cases where the provisions of the Third Party Liability Insurance Act 1991 are not complied with. The ministry will soon seek stakeholder feedback on the proposal and amend the law.

The law aims to provide insurance coverage to victims of accidents caused by handling harmful substances. In the event of an accident, the owners of the business where the accident occurred must pay temporary compensation to the victims. The law stipulates that the company must ensure insurance coverage in advance considering the risks of such accidents.