New Environmental Conservation Act will curtail the role of Department of Environment

Kathmandu– The Ministry of Forest and Environment has tried to limit the role of Department of Environment in the new Environmental Conservation Act-2075.

The role of the Department of Environment has been reduced in the proposed draft of the Environment Protection Act prepared by Ministry of Forest and Environment.

At a time when the voices have been raised to make the department active in the works related to the environment, the Ministry prepared the Environmental Conservation Act 2075 putting more authority on itself.

Director General at the Department of Environment Jhalakram Adhikari accused the concerned authority of not consulting the department while drafting the Environmental Conservation Act.

“We were ready to give suggestions based on our experiences, but the concerned authority did not consult with us,” Adhikari said, adding, “It is up to the Ministry whether to incorporate our suggestions or not.”

Adhikari said that green certificate, agency related to the pollution area and environment laboratory among others should be included in the draft of the Environmental Conservation Act.

According to environmentalists, the provision mentioned in the Article 3 of the proposed draft even states that the role of the department has been neglected.

Even if the Ministry approved the environmental impact assessment (EIA), the department should have the authority to cross check the EIA, the environmentalists said. The Department has also floated different opinion on the proposed draft.

Director General Adhikari said the provision should be included in the Act to take the approval of the department while carrying out works mentioned in the Article 3.

He said the provision should make it mandatory for the concerned authority to take prior approval from the department while carrying out research in the area under the local and province level.

Similarly, the environmentalists have also said that it is necessary to add many issues which are not included in the Environmental Conservation Act.

He said that there should be the role of the department to operate the environmental laboratory, carry out works related to the authentication of environmental laboratory operated by the private sector, to bring new technology in environment sector, and to recommend the survey and research among others things.

Adhikari said that there should be a provision that the department should carry out works to promote the cooperation and coordination of environmental activities of local, provincial and federal government.

He said that they had submitted the suggestions in written form to the concerned authority to clarify the role and working area of the department to make the works of the department effective as the Department of the Environment is the only agency to carry out works related to the environment in the Act.

Likewise, the Article 12 of the proposed draft states that the Ministry can impose ban on importing and exporting and buying and selling of hazardous waste. The environmentalists are of the opinion that it would be more effective if these kinds of minor works are given to the department.

Environmentalist and advocate Padam Shrestha said the works would not be effective if the Ministry takes the responsibility of all the things.

Though the Department of Environment was established in 2012, the department does not have any role yet.

The duty and rights of the department have not been mentioned in the Environmental Conservation Act 2053.

The department has been working as per the decision of the ministerial level meeting held on January 29, 2014.

Questions have been raised behind the intention of the Ministry of Forest and Environment to limit the role of the department in the new Act at a time when people from various quarters have been criticizing the department for failing to work as per the Act.

Environment activist Basanta Paudel said the Ministry has to focus more on making the Department of Environment powerful rather than reducing its role.

Spokesperson at the Ministry of Forest and Environment Sindhu Dhungana has also admitted that the area of Department of Environment has been narrowing down. She, however, defended the Ministry has not done all these intentionally.

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