Nepal | May 25, 2020

NHRC for rights friendly environment protection bill

Himalayan News Service
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Kathmandu, July 31

The National Human Rights Commission has urged Agriculture, Cooperative and Natural Resources Committee of the Federal Parliament to incorporate human rights issues in the Environment Protection Bill. The bill is under consideration in the parliamentary panel.

A press release issued by the rights body today said it provided suggestions to the parliamentary committee in accordance with Article 249 of the constitution after holding clause-wise discussion with the stakeholders and environmental experts.

The NHRC suggested that the parliamentary committee should define ‘polluter’ in the bill. “Though the constitution and the bill stipulate the provision of providing compensation to pollution victim from the concerned polluter, it is necessary to mention legal definition of polluter,” the rights body said. If a person or organisation suffered any loss or damage due to emission of polluting gases, discharge of hazardous waste or accidental pollution by anyone contrary to the bill, such a victim could submit an application to the concerned authority requesting an order of compensation for the damage caused to him/her or it, stated the bill.

The NHRC has recommended some additions in Section 7 of the bill to ensure that implementation of any development project will not infringe on the rights of indigenous people residing around a project site. The parliamentary committee has been urged to stipulate a provision which empowers all three levels of the government to halt any project implemented without getting environmental study report approved or halt a project being implemented in contrary to the approved report.

Section 16 of the proposed bill stated that waste of any specific kind that did not cause significant adverse impacts on human health and environment could be imported. The NHRC suggested the parliamentary committee to impose complete ban on import of hazardous waste.

The rights body also suggested the parliamentary committee to prescribe qualification of environmental inspector. “It will be appropriate to nominate a person who has earned at least bachelor’s degree in environmental science or environment management or environmental engineering as an environmental inspector,” the NHRC said. The parliamentary committee has been told to ensure the participation of local community in the management of protected area declared by the government.

Section 32 of the bill provided for provision of an 11-member National Council for Environment Protection and Climate Change Management chaired by the prime minister to carry out functions relating to environment protection and climate change at the national level. “The structure of the national council mentioned in the bill is not consistent with the principle of proportional and inclusive representation. Therefore, it should be made inclusive by increasing the number of members,” the rights body suggested.

The rights body said the parliamentary committee should add a provision to the bill that allowed a person to file a complaint at the NHRC in regards to human rights violation by projects operated by all three levels of the government. In yet another suggestion, it said that the bill should have a provision of recovering compensation for a pollution victim within three months.

“Any official who fails to recover compensation for the victim from the guilty within three months should be made liable to departmental action,” it stated.


A version of this article appears in print on August 01, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.


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