Polluter pay Principle

There are many laws made in order to protect the environment in which one of the most important is The Polluter Pays Principle. It was first introduced in 1972 by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) which is concerned about the International Economic Aspects of Environmental policies. Under this principle, the polluter was held liable for the environmental damage and pollution he caused. The Polluter Pays Principle shifts liability on a polluter who pollutes the environment and is liable to compensate for the damages he caused to the environment.


In India, the ‘polluter pays principle was first introduced in 1996 in the Indian Council of Enviro-Legal Action vs Union of India. In this case, the court held that reversing the imbalance caused to the ecology is part of the industrial process and it is the financial responsibility of industry to take prevention and control measures for the pollution caused The financial burden cannot be shifted on the shoulders of the government.


Vellore Citizens’ Welfare Forum vs. Union of India 1996(5) SCC 647
In this case, The Court interpreted the meaning of the Polluter Pays Principle in the form of absolute liability for causing harm to the environment which may extend not only to compensate the victims of the pollution caused but also the cost of restoring the environmental degradation because Remediation of the environment is part of the process of ‘Sustainable Development. So, the polluter is liable to pay the cost for the suffering victims and the cost for the restoration of the environment.


The Oleum Gas Leak case (M.C. Mehta vs. Union of India) AIR 1987 SC 1086
In this case, The Court held that any enterprise which is engaged in producing hazardous or which poses a potential threat to the health and safety of persons who are working in their factory and to those persons who are residing in the surrounding areas, are absolutely liable for the peoples and should also ensure that no harm will cause to the health of people and environment. If any harm then the enterprise is absolutely liable to compensate for the harm caused.


M. C. Mehta vs Kamal Nath & Ors (1997)1SCC388
In this case, The Court held that pollution is a civil wrong against the community, and as a civil wrong the person responsible for causing pollution has to pay damages in order to restore the environment and ecology. Under the Polluter Pays Principle, it is not the role of the Government to bear the costs of such damage, or in carrying out any type of remedial action, because it would shift the financial burden from the industry to the taxpayers.


Although the Polluter Pays Principle helped in dealing with the damages caused to the environment, the provision remains an inadequate remedy as the problem persists regarding who is the actual polluter in any case. The polluter could be anyone in a part of the “production chain” and it is difficult to impose the liability when the courts consider the extent and contribution in causing pollution and more effective provisions should be made in order to determine the liability of a person responsible and other provisions should be considered in order to protect the environment.

Aishwarya Says:

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