Now environment cess for polluting industries

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New Delhi, Nov 16: A Parliamentary panel has taken serious note of the fact that industries which do not comply with pollution norms get away rather easily as the compliance based on the criminal justice system takes extremely long time to get resolved. Besides, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) do not have the legal capacity to pursue the case, which requires a change in the regulatory framework, said the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Environment and Forests in its latest report.

The Standing committee also told the Ministry that by just issuing notices and direction, CPCB should not feel that it had done its job. The Board should rather see to it that notices and directions were enforced and complied with. It advised the Ministry to maintain a centralised data on the overall compliance status by industries. The Committee has been informed that there was no centralised database which could present the real picture of pollution load being created from individual industries, and its impact on environment.

In view of the increase in pollution from various industries, the Committee has recommended an environmental cess on them on an annual basis, based on their turnover. This money, the committee said, should be collected to pay for regulatory institutions and their facilities. ''The Environment Impact assessment will need funds for scrutiny and for appraisal,'' the Report said. It said it would like the CPCB to check the industrial effluents entering the river which could not be naturally flushed on account of heavy withdrawal of water for civic consumption.

The Committee is of the view that emphasis should be more on incentivising compliance, as catching and penalising the polluting industries in a cumbersome judicial process was difficult, more so when the judiciary was already overburdened.

It has advised to the Ministry to notify the guidelines for environment processing of used oil/lead batteries at the earliest to check the damage.

Currently the CPCB depends on the state boards to collect the data but these boards do not submit this information in a consistent format and many of the smaller boards do not even have the expertise and resources to collect and present the data.

Under the current system, CPCB has no ability to take action against state pollution control boards if they do not provide the requested information.

UNI

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