Sunday, January 25, 2009

Premptive penalty, a licence to pollute

Premptive penalty, a licence to pollute

N R Madhusudan
First Published : 24 Jan 2009 08:05:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 24 Jan 2009 09:16:31 AM IST

BANGALORE: A nominal penalty is all you need to pay to get the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) on your side. At least 100 industrialists including biggies like Wipro, Salapuria Properties Pvt Ltd, Citilights Estates Pvt Ltd, Samvriddhi Builders and Developers and D Veerendra Hegde, M/s Bala Gangadharanath Global Hospitals have conveniently figured this out. They are functioning undisturbed without even having got permission from the KSPCB to operate, as they have paid the penalty beforehand.

According to section 25 of the Water Act 1974 no person shall, without the previous consent of the State Pollution Control Board, establish or take any steps to establish any industry, operation or process, that is likely to discharge sewage or trade effluents into streams or wells or on land.

Section 25 can be interpreted to cover all the buildings that are constructed at the cost of more than Rs 5 crore and less than Rs 50 crore.

Electricity and water connections to such structures are not supposed to be given till the establishment obtains consent from the KSPCB. Even after the structure is established, the industries have to obtain consent on an annual basis.

The consent for operation is given based on the effluent and sewage treatment and other norms being followed by any firm.

According to the section 21 of the Air Act 1981, no one should establish or operate any industrial plant without the previous consent of the State Pollution Control Board.

Violation of the aforesaid acts are considered to be a penal offence and if anybody violates these acts they shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than oneand- a-half year extendable to six years.

This legislation were enacted in the Parliament to deter people from violating the pollution control norms and they cannot be altered even by the state governments.

According to the information accessed by Mullhalli Suri through RTI, the KSPCB has recently approved more than a 100 such structures and projects, which did not take the consent for establishment, after collecting penalty from the agencies.

According to the section 25 and 21 of the Water Act, penal action can to be taken against these entrepreneurs but the KSPCB has regularised the structures by imposing nominal penalties.

Pollution Control Board Chairman Sarath Chandra justified this saying, “The Environment Policy has given provisions to use ‘economic instruments’ against erring industries. Economic instruments means either fines or incentives.

So we have imposed fines on them and have approved those projects.” However, experts say that there is no such provision in the Environment Policy guidelines to specifically approve the projects that have not taken the consent for establishment from the KSPCB.

Name-dropping Name Amount

WIPRO 10,00,000

SRJ Builders 10,00,000

HCL Technologies Ltd 10,00,000

Prestige Estates 75,000

Projects Pvt Ltd

BGS Global Hospital 3,75,000

D Veerendra Hegde 45,000

Larsen and Toubro Ltd 2,50,000

MindTree Consulting Ltd 7,50,000

J S Estates and 75,000

Shelters Pvt Ltd

Citilights Estates Pvt Ltd 3,30,000

M R G Realtors Pvt Ltd 3,00,000


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