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Govt mulls ` 10- cr fine for water pollution.

THE ministry of environment and forests ( MoEF) has told the Public Accounts Committee ( PAC) it is considering a proposal to impose fine up to ` 10 crore for water pollution. The PAC was informed by T. Chatterjee, secretary, environment, that ministerial discussions on this issue have already taken place.

MoEF in its written reply too had admitted that time has come to revise the penalty.

Currently, the maximum penalty under the Prevention of Pollution Act, 1974, is ` 10,000.

According to sources, many committee members said if preexisting laws are not working properly, how raising the penalty amount will work as a deterrence. Some members also privately expressed the concern that environmental issues should not affect economic activities.

The committee was also informed that MoEF is also deliberating a proposal to implement sewer tax on urban areas. According to the data, 75 per cent of water pollution is caused by urban areas and 25 per cent by industries.

The committee was told that the concept of sewer tax would work on the volume discharged by a particular household. The idea was opposed by committee members with Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam and some others terming it as anti- poor. Nirupam said in a city like Mumbai, where half of the population lives in shanties, will suffer and get penalised by the administration.

Members also pressed on MoEF officials that they should allow private complaints relating to water bodies. The members also demanded that action taken should be put on Websites for people to know as to what the ministry has done. However, MoEF admitted that the Central Pollution Control Board ( CPCB) did not compile any information on cases of violations related to water pollution dealt by State Pollution Control Boards and amount of fine realised.

The body was also informed that in the audit of 140 projects, the issue of water pollution has not been adequately addressed in the legislative framework.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Jul 18, 2012
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