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Polluting environs to be termed as minor offence, littering in open may draw penalty

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

The Ministry of Environment and Forests, in an attempt to give Swachh Bharat Abhiyan a legal affect, will make littering in the open, dumping electronic waste, defacement of public places and use of banned plastic bags a “minor offence” with monetary penalties on the spot.

Minor offence will also include “manufacturing, possession and use of restricted or prohibited substance such as plastic bags below the prescribed thickness and violation of their disposal, including electronic waste”.

The Indian Express reported that to promote public awareness on cleanliness, the Environmental Laws (Amendment) Bill will be introduced in the monsoon session of Parliament to club these violations as non-cognizable crime.

“The Environment (Protection) Act (EPA) does not allow civil financial penalties to usher an active enforcement of environmental laws. And the existing criminal settlement alone is not proving effective. Penalty checks and public participation will lead to in-built social check”, reported the news paper.

The report stated that the Bill will specify minor offence in the EPA that will not involve filing an FIR or arrest. However it will attract a fine on the spot as happens in the case of “making atmosphere noxious to health” which attracts a fine of Rs 500. The required amount of fine will be governed under local municipal laws, within rules prescribed by the central law.

Prakash Javadekar, Environment and Forests Minister, has been rooting for bringing changes in the EPA to make compliance mechanism to discourage pollution, more effective.

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Experts Demand for Right Execution of Anti-Pollution Steps

There are policies and programmes to deal with air pollution

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Experts, Demand, Right, Pollution
With polluted air raising health risks in a large part of India, the situation is critical to say the least. Pixabay

 Though nine Indian cities figure among the World Health Organisation’s 10 most polluted global destinations, lack of effective implementation of pollution control measures remains a major challenge, say experts.

The Narendra Modi government’s Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, which ensures LPG connections to women from poor families, has helped lower indoor pollution. But vehicular emissions and stubble burning in the northern states remain major contributors to air pollution.

With polluted air raising health risks in a large part of India, the situation is critical to say the least and assumes significance as we get ready to celebrate the World Environment Day on Wednesday. The United Nation’s has set “air pollution” as the theme for this year’s celebrations.

“There are policies and programmes to deal with air pollution. But there are issues with their management,” said Anand Kumar, Associate Director (Environment and Climate Change) at IPE Global, a consultancy providing technical assistance and solutions for equitable development and sustainable growth in developing countries.

Experts, Demand, Right, Pollution
Nine Indian cities figure among the World Health Organisation’s 10 most polluted global destinations. Pixabay

The government has dealt with vehicular emission through several policies, but stubble burning, which leads to smog and high level of pollutant in the national capital during winters, has not been looked at properly.

Last Diwali, in several parts of Delhi concentration of PM 2.5 exceeded 1,500 µg/m3, way above the “severe” category and could result in respiratory problems to even healthy people, said Kumar.

Environmentalist C.R. Babu stressed the need to raise public awareness. “Technology cannot help much in the fight against air pollution. The natural sinks (to absorb pollutant) have either filled or have been eliminated, while sources of pollution are increasing. How many vacuum cleaners or sprays can be used to remove dust? People’s participation is a must,” he said.

Also Read- BSES Launches First Electric Vehicle Charging Station in City

Babu suggested creation of green buffers as one way. “We need multiple patches of vegetation across the urban areas. Only a carpet of greenery can absorb dust and pollutant,” he said. (IANS)