Amendments to be tabled in Karnataka legislature
The State government is planning to amend laws related to prevention of environment pollution to give them more teeth and make offences non-bailable to ensure stringent punishment to environment polluters, including industries and factories.
Amendments will be introduced in the coming session of the State legislature, which would meet for 10 days next month.
Currently, Karnataka State Pollution Control Board officials are armed with “toothless” laws which empower them only to issue notices to factories, industries, and other establishments that release effluents to river/lake or air.
With owners of industries and factories apparently not responding to notices issued by board or department officials, the department has proposed drastic changes in the laws related to prevention of environment pollution, said Ecology, Environment, and Tourism Minister B.S. Anand Singh.
Mr. Singh, after sulking for 15 days over allocation of “low-profile” portfolio, only recently took charge and reviewed the department’s work. He said discussions were held with officials on framing changes to laws.
On the lacunae in the existing laws, Mr. Singh said security guards posted at the gates of factories would not permit KSPCB officials to visit the premises to issue notices to the management. Further, notices issued to the factories seeking explanation within 15 days on causes for pollution are not replied to, he said.
The Minister said provisions related to registration of FIR and filing of criminal cases would be included in the amendments to ensure non-bailable punishment to polluters. On tourism, he said on the lines of the Centre’s National Monetisation Pipeline policy, Karnataka’ Tourism Department was planning to “unlock value” in the State’s tourism places, Jungle Lodges and Resorts, and facilities managed by the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation. Elaborating on the proposal to hand over tourism locations such as Nandi Hills to private parties, Mr. Singh said the government would keep the ownership of the land and assets while leasing out management to private parties, which would bring revenue to both the government and private parties.
On the management of JLR property near Hampi, the Minister said JLR’s facilities remained 80% vacant while a private resort nearby records booking of 80%. “We are planning to run JLR properties by roping in private players, without selling the government’s ownership, on a profit-sharing formula,” he said.
With tourism destinations getting no footfall owing to the pandemic, the Minister proposed to spend ₹70 crore that was set aside for publicity campaigns for providing basic facilities at 10 major tourism places in the State.
On allocation of funds to the Tourism Department, the Minister said the department sought ₹650 crore in 2021–22 but only ₹228 crore was released. It was decided to hold a meeting with Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, who also holds the Finance portfolio, to seek an additional ₹200 crore in the current fiscal year, he said.
Mr. Singh, who held meetings for two days with department officials, said they were exploring the option of handing over Yatri Nivas properties of the Tourism Department to the Muzrai Department as most of the properties were attached to temples belonging to the department. Nearly 80% of the demand for accommodation at Yatri Nivas comes from people visiting temples. The issue would be discussed with Mr. Bommai, he said.
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