ENVIS Centre, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India

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Green ministry to SC: Not liable if rules not followed

Hindustan Times, New Delhi, 8th May, 2013

The environment ministry has shunned responsibility in implementing its own green rules and says it cannot be liable for failure to implement them as it was the job of the state government.

In a petition filed in the Supreme Court, the ministry said that it was not "feasible and practical for MoEF to monitor implementation of each and every notification."

The ministry moved SC challenging an order of the National Green Tribunal, which had imposed a fine of Rs. 1 lakh on the ministry for its failure to implement its notification for declaring 15 km around Kaziranga National Park in Assam as 'no development zone' for industrial activity. The money was to be deposited with Director of Kaziranga National Park.
The tribunal held that the ministry and the state government had failed to carry out their duties in implementing the provisions of the 1996 notification. The notification was issued to protect the rich Kaziranga wildlife from adverse impact of industrial activities in the area.

The ministry told the Apex Court that it could act only if there is any complaint of violation of its rules and it would attract the penal provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

The ministry also said that the notification was sent to Assam government in 1996 and the state pollution control board should have taken the notification into account while giving consents to operate to the industries.

The ministry has six regional offices across India, including one in Shillong, to ensure that its rules are followed. But, they are blatantly flouted and the ministry blames lack of manpower for its failure to enforce regulations for environment protection.