Implementing ‘Polluter Pays Principle’

John Ruskin had aptly said, “God had lent us the earth for our life time and we are here as lease holders …” A lease holder must live and behave within prescribed limits without damaging or rendering ineffective the object of lease. The question, therefore, is as to how long could we afford to wreak havoc with the environment at the current speed to not only imperil the very existence of our future generation but even threaten the existing one in living a normal and healthy life . Jammu and Kashmir is otherwise blessed by nature with bountiful flora and fauna, greenery, forests, hills , water bodies and the like but violating environment too is taking place in many forms which if not stopped right now, could boomerang into the situation like existing in Delhi, Kanpur and other polluted places. It is a matter of relief that administration is poised to meticulously implement the detailed guidelines of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), a statutory body whereby those polluting and defiling environment shall have to be penalised. It may be noted that National Green Tribunal, a quasi judicial body deals with all types of cases related to protection of environment, conserving forests and natural resources.
The State Administration has proceeded with the need of enforcing and implementing the requisite directives of levying Environment Compensation. Accordingly, State Pollution Control Board is reportedly in full readiness for levying the charges under ‘Polluter Pays Principle’. However, have such pollutants, which expectedly could be surprisingly many, been identified? Has the severity of levels of pollution caused by each identified pollutant been reckoned and tested by experts in the field so as to levy the compensation money accordingly? Has a list been prepared under an intimation to all concerned involved in the exercise? Have proper notices been served on such violators of environment detailing everything about the reasons of charging compensation money? These are a few elementary ingredients to be taken into consideration to make the exercise really meaningful and not see it ending up in a fiasco due to insufficient monitoring and implementation.
It is envisaged that pollutants of environment will now have to pay a hefty compensation primarily with intention to the operation of a deterrent measure.Not only individuals but even Government departments, health institutions and Municipal bodies shall have to face the ire for violating environment in whatever way. Since Effluent Treatment Plants(ETPs), Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs) and Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) are central to the entire gamut of preventing pollution of environment , not merely their establishment but proper and required functioning needed to be looked into and the Tribunal is committed towards that end . The reasons were many but the chief reason being without these plants, untreated effluents were discharged directly into the water bodies and with cumulative effect, it was creating havoc by contaminating the water resulting in spreading of diseases and striking a death knell to the aquatic organism as the same is starved of the required levels of oxygen.
The foremost task being to save water bodies from the scourge of pollution and since in this direction various directives, awareness campaigns and the like having proved of little avail , the choice has rightly been felt about enforcing the doctrine of “Polluter Pays Principle” or to levy Environment Compensation and very likely, when the pollutants had to pay right through their nose, the menace of pollution would be checked to a larger extent. With the sole objective of enforcing a deterrent impact, the manner of such levying, proportionate to the levels and seriousness of pollution caused having already been worked out , the next step is to enforce it . Besides, such compensation received, would generate funds to fight to lessen the adverse impact on the environment due to such pollution. What is needed is to circulate and to go in for the requisite due publicity about the entire exercise and the guidelines there under in respect of charging of Environment Compensation from the violators and defaulters of Environmental Laws in Jammu and Kashmir before seriously implanting it as early as possible.