The government on Tuesday moved the Supreme Court seeking six months' time to set up an independent environment regulator, which will evaluate projects seeking green clearances, enforce terms for approvals and impose penalties on defaulters.
Stating that it needs, at least, time of six months to complete the whole process to comply with the apex court's directions of January 6, the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) said that it has circulated a draft note proposing the functions and broad structure of the proposed regulator/authority to the concerned ministries/departments for comments and the same will be sent for cabinet approval.
While the cabinet will take a view on the proposal, MoEF proposes that the regulator may have the functions of overseeing the process of accredition of Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) consultants; improving the quality of EIA reports and appraisal of projects or activities for environment clearance; enforcing the conditions stated in environment clearances and implementing the National Forest Policy, the government said in its application.
According to the ministry, the details of staffing requirements of the regulator, both at Centre and state levels, will be worked out only after the cabinet approval and thereafter a notification will be issued after getting it vetted by the law ministry.
It further said that the proposed regulator cannot be given powers to impose penalty on the polluters as such directions under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, can only be imposed on polluters by the competent court of law. Besides, the Act doesn't provide for any civil penalty that can be imposed by government or any other government-appointed authority.