PM cautions against return to license raj in env sector

New Delhi, Feb 3 (PTI) Against the backdrop ofEnvironment Minister Jairam Ramesh''s green activism, PrimeMinister Manmohan Singh today cautioned against return to thelicense permit raj system while favouring enforcement of theregulatory standards to prevent green damage.

Singh also backed the "polluter must pay" principle todeal with the issue of residual pollution that may be causeddespite regulation.

"The central principle that must be enshrined in anysustainable development strategy is that incentives facing alleconomic decision makers must encourage them to act in amanner that is environmentally benign," he said inauguratingthe Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 2011 here.

Singh''s remarks come in the wake of the environmentministry raising the red flag recently over severalmulti-billion dollar projects citing green concerns.

"We must put in place a structure of regulatory policieswhich will prevent potentially damaging behaviour. This iswhat we do by setting regulatory standards and enforcingthem," he said.

"I must emphasise that standards are not enough. Theymust also be enforced which is often difficult," Singh said atthe summit which was attended by Presidents of Afghanistan,Dominican Republic and Seychelles Hamid Karzai, LeonelFernandez, and James Alix Michel respectively.

At the same time, Singh said it was necessary to ensurethat the regulatory standards do not bring back the licensepermit raj which the government had got rid of in the wake ofeconomic reforms of the early nineties.

To deal with the issue of residual pollution causeddespite regulation, the Prime Minister emphasised on thepolluter must pay principle.

"This will discourage the polluters and also provide ameans of financing the corrective steps necessary to counterthe pollution caused," he said.

Noting that India was setting standards for most energyconsuming industries, Singh said "as a general rule we aretrying to establish the principle that the polluter must paythough that is much more difficult to achieve in all cases".

He said last year, the government had introduced a cess offive per cent on the use of coal both domestic or imported tobuild the corpus of a National Clean Energy Fund.

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