Updated February 5th, 2024 at 23:08 IST

Water Amendment Bill introduced in Rajya Sabha seeks to decriminalise minor offences| Check Details

The Bill suggests amending Sec 4 to grant the Central Govt the authority to prescribe the manner in which the State Government handles pollution-related issues.

Digital Desk
Delhi ghat
Yamuna river in Delhi | Image:PTI/ Representational

New Delhi: The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act will be soon amended, as the Center has introduced the bill in Rajya Sabha today with the primary objective of decriminalising and rationalising minor offences and to encourage a trust-based governance system for the ease of living and doing business.

Key Amendments Proposed Under the Bill

  1. Centralised Oversight (Section 4): The Bill makes a suggestion to amend Section 4 to grant the Central Government the authority to prescribe the manner in which the State Government handles pollution-related issues. This centralization, as per reports, aims to ensure a standardised and efficient approach across regions.
  2. Centralised Prescriptions (Section 5): Section 5 is suggested to be altered to allow the Central Government to prescribe specific actions that states must adopt in order to improve consistency in pollution control efforts.
  3. Industrial Plant Exemptions (Section 25): Section 25 is slated for amendment to allow the Center, in consultation with the Central Board, to exempt specific categories of industrial plants from certain provisions. 
  4.  Guidelines on Consent (Section 27A): A new section, 27A, was introduced in the bill to empower the Central Government to issue guidelines related to the grant, refusal, or cancellation of consent by State Boards for the establishment of industries or treatment and disposal systems. 
  5.  ‘Stringent’ Penalties (Sections 41 and 41A): Sections 41 and 41A are to be substituted with more 'stringent' penalties for contraventions or non-compliance with directions under Section 20. The penalties range from a minimum of ten thousand rupees to a maximum of fifteen lakh rupees.
  6. Environmental Protection Fund (Section 45D): A new provision, Section 45D, has also been proposed that the penalties imposed under various sections of the Act shall contribute to the Environmental Protection Fund, aligning financial penalties with environmental conservation efforts.
  7.  Adjudicating Officer and Appeals (Sections 45B and 45C): The Bill introduced the role of an adjudicating officer for penalty determinations that, further, as per reports, will allow for an appeal process to the National Green Tribunal for those aggrieved by the officer's decision.
  8. Government Department Penalties (Section 48): Section 48 has also been revamped to impose penalties on heads of government departments or officers for contraventions. The penalties are set at one month of their basic salary.

Published February 5th, 2024 at 22:29 IST

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