Enhanced penalty and speedy trial to nail green offenders and monitoring of coastal rules violations through satellites are some of the steps the government is mulling to ensure better implementation of environmental regulations in the country.
A draft paper envisaging such stringent rules by seeking an amendment in Environment (Protection) Act 1986 is being prepared by a panel set up to examine the issues relating to monitoring compliance of environmental clearance conditions and will soon be available for public opinion.
It deals with the existing regulatory regime and the present system of monitoring, its limitations and the proposed new approach to monitoring which envisages amendment in the EP Act which in present form has failed to deter companies from blatantly violating the norms.
"The new proposed approach envisages involvement of specialised agencies or institutions in the monitoring of compliance of EC/CRZ conditions depending on their respective areas of specialisation," a senior environment ministry official said.
He said that panel pointed to various deficiencies of the EP Act, noting that in its present form it does not have enough deterrent and punitive provisions.
"The existing process of imposing penalty and punishment under the EP Act is quite time consuming, sometime taking years before the case reaches to its conclusive end.
"Hence based on the presentation made and discussions held, it was felt that action will be taken to amend the Act to provide for enhancement of penalty for non-compliance and to modify the procedure so as to decide the penalty and punishment under the Act expeditiously," the official said.
However, he did not divulge the exact penalty or punishment the draft proposes.
Moreover, it was also recognised that for monitoring of air and water quality and compliance with the emission and discharge standards involvement of Central Pollution Control Board and state PCBs would be very useful.
"It will synergise the available resources and will help in validation of data generated by other monitoring agencies, noted the panel," said the official.
Use of information technology and satellite technology for putting the information in the public domain and for inter-agency coordination was also highlighted as recommended by the Swaminathan Committee in its report related to coastal zones.
The issue relating to involvement of CPCB and SPCBs in compliance monitoring will be taken up as an agenda during the forthcoming meeting with SPCBs, the official said.
The monitoring committee whose tenure is up to September 30 will seek comments on the draft approach paper from all the stakeholders before finalising it.