MoEF proposes amendments in Environment Protection Act, to decriminalize provision

What is the News?

The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change sought feedback from experts and other stakeholders as it proposed to decriminalize the existing provisions of the Environment Protection Act, 1986.

What are the current penal provisions under the Environment Protection Act(EPA), 1986?

The Environment Protection Act(EPA) came into force in 1986. It was enacted under Article 253 of the Indian Constitution which provides for the enactment of legislation for giving effect to international agreements.

Purpose: 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.

Penal Provisions: 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.

What are the changes proposed by the Government under EPA,1986?

The government has proposed to replace imprisonment with a monetary penalty for the “less severe” contraventions under the EPA.

However, serious violations of EPA which lead to grievous injury or loss of life shall be covered under the provision of the Indian Penal Code.

It has also proposed the creation of an “Environmental Protection Fund’’ in which the amount of penalty will be remitted.

Source: The post is based on the article “MoEF proposes amendments in Environment Protection Act, to decriminalize provision” published in Indian Express on 2nd July 2022.

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