The Andhra Pradesh government will soon bring in a new legislation for effective enforcement of various environment laws, billed as the first of its kind in the country, in the aftermath of the LG Polymers Limited vapour leak tragedy that left 13 people dead last month in Visakhapatnam.
The main feature of the proposed Environment Improvement Act will be the Environment Damage Compensation (EDC) that will be imposed on industries violating environment laws.
The Andhra Pradesh government will introduce the EDC, which will enable recovery of damages from violating industries towards loss of human life, property, flora and fauna and also the ecosystem, a top official of the Environment and Forests Department told PTI in Amaravati.
The state Council of Ministers, which will meet in Amaravati on Thursday, is expected to clear the draft legislation for introduction in the coming Budget session of the Legislature.
As per the proposed legislation, EDC would be levied on violating industries in case of any unauthorised activity, release of pollutants exceeding permissible limits, degradation of air quality, contamination of water resources, soil and groundwater, adverse effect on human health, damages caused to property, natural assets and productive assets, besides loss of ecosystem services.
The amount realised through levy of EDC and other penalties would be credited to a Green Fund that would be utilised for protection, improvement and management of environment.
The AP Environment Improvement Act is also intended to improve compliance mechanisms in all industries, introduce third-party audit, install real-time pollution monitoring equipment and introduce a monetary penalty regime for violation of pollution norms.
The existing laws primarily are no objection and clearance-oriented and do not have sufficient provisions for ensuring compliance and environmental auditing. The proposed law will address that and ensure effective enforcement of various provisions of the environment acts, the official said.
The proposed act would apply to all industries, factories, mining operations and all other activities governed by the Water Act, Air Act and Environment (Protection) Act.
The move comes over a month after styrene gas leaked from the LG Polymers Limited's plant at R R Venkatapuram village near Visakhapatnam on May 7, leaving 13 people dead and affecting around 1,000 people, many of them collapsing to the ground.
Under the proposed law, all major polluting industries in the red and orange categories will have to mandatorily install Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations, Continuous Effluent Quality Monitoring System and transmit the data to the AP Pollution Control Board for monitoring.
For minor violations, monetary penalties will be levied so that the industries will be spurred to ensure compliance with the pollution norms. The EDC will cover the major violations, the official added.