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NGT suggests NGT to examine industries that cause environmental damage under PMLA
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NGT suggests NGT to examine industries that cause environmental damage under PMLA

The National Green Tribunal suggested that competent authorities, who regulate and enforce PMLA 2002, take action against industries that cause great damage to the environment and the lives of the people. “It is incumbent on the competent authorities regulating & enforcing PMLA 2002, to take action against such violators. If not against small violators at least against larger resourceful proponents whose violations can cause enormous damage to the environment and also the inhabitants. The NGT stated that the competent authority should have examined all matters relating to Large-Scale Industries and Medium-Scale Industries (MSI), as per PMLA 2002.

Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, the chairperson of the NGT bench, made this observation. The NGT bench observed that anyone who violates environmental norms, releases pollutants causing pollution, or continues commercial activities for commercial gain, is subject to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002.

The Schedule to PMLA 2002 contains the following paragraphs: 23, 25,26,27. These paragraphs were added by Section 30 of PML Amendment Act, 2012. This Act came into force February 15, 2012. The tribunal further pointed out that all the provisions relating the offences under various Environmental Statutes are in part A. The tribunal was hearing four applications, namely Akhil Bhhartiya Mangela Samad, Ashok Thakoji Tandli, Narendra Parushram Naik, Vaibhav Ashok Vaze and Ashok Thakoji Tandli. The applicants complained of the discharge of untreated effluents into Navapur’s Arabian Sea and into nearby creeks and nallas, in flagrant violations of Environment (Protection) Acts 1986, Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Acts 1974 and 1981 by industries established in the industrial zone, Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) Tarapur.

The tribunal observed that in the case in which environmental norms weren’t followed by not operating Effluent Treat Plan (ETP), discharging partially- or totally untreated pollutants, or causing violations, the tribunal commissioned the Scheduled offence. This crime is considered proceeds of crime under PMLA 2002. By showing it in part of business proceeds, it amounts to projecting or claiming that it is untainted. The entire activity is covered by section 3 of PMLA 2002. The Court observed that PMLA 2002 was originally enacted to cover terrorist activities, illegal trafficking in drugs, enemies of the nation, etc. It only applied to a limited number of statutes. Enforcement Directorate had been applying PMLA 2002 in a narrow area.

“It has failed to recognize the fact that PMLA 2002’s scope has been widened or enhanced, at most, since the amendment Act of 2012 w.e.f. 15.02.2013,” the court noted, noting that eight-and-half years have passed without Enforcement Directorate taking any action against violators of environmental statutes. These statutes are listed in the Schedule, Part A of PMLA 2002. “The offences of the Environmental Acts are not cognizable. However, they are recognized under PMLA 2002. Despite the fact that violators of environmental Statutes have committed offences under PMLA 2002, no competent authority has ever taken action to bring them to justice. This has encouraged polluters ” the NGT stated.

“Parliament intends to treat environmental violations very seriously offences. This is evident from the fact, offences under the environmental laws as noted above, were included in Schedule, Section A of PMLA 2002, but enforcement machinery has failed to achieve entire goal, ” the NGT stated. The NGT stated that “Enforcement Directorate might examine the matter for appropriate actions, in the light of PMLA2002 as amended from occasion to time, especially Amendment of 2012.”

MPCB officials were also brought before the NGT for negligent, lax, careless, non-bonafide conduct, and lack of devotion. The NGT issued several directions, including that the committee be continued for a year to monitor compliance conditions in TIAMIDC by all stakeholders and submit quarterly reporting to the Registrar General, NGT.

The NGT directed to pay Rs Two Crores to MIDC as compensation and said that the amount of compensation shall be utilised for remediation/restoration of the environment, and healthcare activities. (ANI)

(This story is not edited by Devdiscourse staff.

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