The environment ministry’s approval to Lavasa Corporation’s lake city project stipulating stringent conditions will now be a norm than exception. The ministry has decided to amend the Environment Protection Act (EPA) to include a new provision of furnishing bank guarantees for specific restoration of the environmental damage caused by project proponents.
In case of Lavasa, the ministry on November 9, had asked the Lavasa Corporation to deposit 5% of the project cost with the Maharashtra government as a guarantee for completing the environmental restoration work.
The ministry had imposed the condition that companies which damaged the environment while building high-end real estate projects would have to pay for its restoration. But, any condition of environment clearance can be challenged in the court and to prevent it, the ministry wants an explicit provision on “polluter pays principle” for damaging environment in the existing law.
For future environmental violators, the ministry wants to enhance the penalty from the present R1 lakh to R10 crore. To fast track imposition of penalties, the ministry seeks to change EPA to have a “civil administrative adjudication system”.
Some other conditions imposed on Lavasa of self-regulation and an effective monitoring mechanism would also be part of EPA. “Industrial self-monitoring, reporting and verification process needs to be refined and appropriate provisions are needed in the act,” said a ministry’s document.