Mumbai-based NGO asks Maharashtra govt to act against environmental violators
Vanashakti has appealed that only designated officers should register cases
Vanashakti, a city-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) has highlighted the need to prioritise and properly register first information reports (FIRs) against those violating the Environment Protection Act (EPA) in a letter it has sent to the principal secretary (environment), divisional commissioner and all collectors. According to the NGO, authorities are getting FIRs registered by lower rank officials, which are subsequently quashed at magistrate courts because they are legally invalid. Vanashakti has appealed that only designated officers should register cases.
In its letter, Vanashakti has said that according to EPA, a collector is empowered to register an FIR and under section 19 of the Act, further sub-delegation is not permitted. Other than a collector, those authorised to register FIRs according to the EPA are the head of Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB); regional officer of MPCB; secretary of the environment department; and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
“We have as part of the Wetlands Grievance Redressal Committee and Mangroves Protection Committee time and again highlighted the fact that FIRs filed by circle officers of the revenue department are not valid in a court of law. Yet this practice continues year after year and day after day. None of these FIRs stand the test of law,” wrote Vanashakti in its letter, adding that these invalid FIRs end up indirectly enabling those violating EPA.
A recent example is the case from last month in which an area circle officer filed an FIR in Kalwa Police station related to Kharigaon toll plaza region, following a complaint of dumping on wetlands, coastal regulations zone (CRZ) and mangroves area.