Corporates violating environmental norms may have to shell out a stiff penalty.

The existing penalty of Rs 1 lakh for violation of environmental norms by corporates was “pathetic”, the Environment and Forests Minister, Ms Jayanthi Natarajan, said at a convention on ‘Corporate Perspective on Sustainable Development: Rio+20 and Beyond' here.

“We are reviewing it (the maximum penalty imposed on the corporates)… I would like to really make it a very stiff penalty, but I would not quantify now,” Ms Natarajan told newspersons on the sidelines of the convention on Wednesday.

She said discussions in this regard were on within Ministries, as the proposal would require amending the existing Act, as also Cabinet and Parliament clearances.

Earlier, inaugurating the convention, Ms Natarajan said, “Economic growth, social development and environment protection are the three pillars of sustainable development.”

Taking a dig at rich nations putting pressure on developing countries over emission norms, she said “Sustainability has different meanings for different contexts. For example, while developed countries are grappling with lifestyle sustainability, the developing countries are tackling issues of livelihood sustainability. For example, one cannot lecture a starving man on the virtues of Aitkens diet, or a villager with no electricity on wood conservation.”

Mr C.S. Verma, Chairman, SAIL, said, “For manufacturing companies in India, reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is the primary focus area.” He said the Department of Public Enterprises had released guidelines for sustainable development, which make it a part of the MoUs that the public sector units sign with the Government, according to an Environment Ministry release.

Mr S. Vasudeva, Chairman and Managing Director, ONGC, said it was important to, “Create an equitable and enabling framework and its diligent implementation and act fast on not only the push factors but also pull factors, that incentivise volunteerism.”

aditi.n@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on March 21, 2012)
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