The environment ministrys 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 despite 5% of the project cost with Maharashtra government as a guarantee for completing the environmental restoration work. The ministry had imposed a condition of restoration of the damage done by the company as a condition for giving clearance to high-end real estate project.
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 present Rs one lakh to Rs 10 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 body of the act itself, said a ministrys document on proposed changes in the law.
Taking a clue from NGO interventions in cases such as Lavasa and Vedanta Resources aluminum mines in Orissa the government intends to include mandatory public disclosure statement by companies on environmental aspects in EPA.
The ministry had issued show cause notices in both these cases after receiving complaints from NGOs. Disclosure statements need to be put in the public domain to ensure oversight by the civil society, the document reads.