New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has suggested the authorities regulating PMLA, to take action against industries that cause damage to the environment and its inhabitants.
“It is incumbent upon the competent authorities regulating and enforcing PMLA 2022 to take action against such violators, if not against small violators, at least against substantial resourceful bigger proponents whose violations are liable to cause huge damage to the environment as also the inhabitants. At least matters of Large Scale Industries (LSI) and Medium Scale Industries (MSI) should have been examined by the competent authorities under the provisions of PMLA 2022,” said the NGT.
The NGT bench, headed by Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, noted that when anyone violates environmental norms, discharges pollutants causing pollution, and continues commercial activities for gains, then such activities attract the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.
The tribunal noted that in the present case where environmental norms were not followed, by not operating Effluent Treatment Plan (ETP) or by discharging partially or completely untreated pollutants, resulted in the commissioning of the Scheduled Offences. The revenue earned by committing such a crime is the ‘proceeds of crime’ as defined in PMLA 2002.
“The offences under Environmental Acts, as such, are non-cognizable, but under PMLA 2002, offences are cognizable. Since competent authority has never resorted to proceed against violators of environmental Statutes despite committing offences, which are included in PMLA 2002, this inaction has encouraged polluters to continue violation with impunity,” the NGT said.
The NGT pulled up MPCB officials for a negligent, lax approach, careless attitude, non-bona fide conduct and lack of devotion to duty.
The NGT also directed to pay Rs 2 Crores to MIDC as compensation and said that the amount of compensation shall be utilised for remediation and restoration of the environment and healthcare activities.