The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) is developing a mechanism to help it determine the extent of damage caused by a polluter – be it an industrial unit, a hospital or a restaurant – and fix the penalty accordingly. To date, the DPCC used to impose environment compensation on polluting industries mostly arbitrarily, as a result of which many industries got the chance to challenge it.“The DPCC has been imposing environment compensation on polluting industries as a deterrent following various court orders. But as there was no basis for calculating the environment damage in terms of money, the amount of penalty was often challenged by the polluter. Hence, there was a need to develop a mechanism,” said a senior official of the DPCC. A four-member committee with DPCC’s member-secretary as chairperson has been formed to develop the mechanism. “The preparation of guideline by the DPCC for calculating compensation for environmental damages is a step in the right direction. Hope this results in adequate and appropriate compensation amounts. This would send a clear and consistent signal disincentivising pollution and would also reduce the legal challenges due to arbitrariness in calculating damages and penalties,” said Ajay Mathur director general of TERI. The initiative was taken after the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) held a meeting in March this year and directed the DPCC, along with other state pollution control boards, to develop the mechanism. “The new mechanism will take into account various aspects such as the category of industries (red, orange or green industry), its location, number of days the violation has been taking place and the scale of operation (small scale or large scale) among others,” said another official, who is also a member of the committee, but is not authorised to speak to the media.To make it simpler, one of the committee members said that the amount would be highest if it is a red category industry (triggering highest pollution), located in a non-conforming area and is a large scale industry.“Time has come to use fiscal instruments more innovatively for effective deterrence based on ‘polluter pays principle’. This will have to be combined with strong monitoring and surveillance for real reduction in emissions,” said Anumita Roy Chowdhury, Executive Director (Research and Advocacy) at Centre for Science and Environment. “It was also decided that for repeated offenders the compensation would be raised on an exponential basis for each repeat violation. Even though initially we would be dealing with industrial units only, for trades such as hotels, restaurants, and hospitals the mechanism would be decided at a later stage,” said a DPCC official.