Kolkata: In addition to slapping penal offences, the West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) is likely to impose environmental compensation under the ‘Polluter-Pay’ principle on offenders — people who will light fireworks despite the blanket ban by Calcutta High Court. Empowered by the Supreme Court and National Green Tribunal, an environmental regulatory body, like the PCB, can impose a compensation up to Rs 5 lakh. Besides, WBPCB will also prosecute the offenders under Section 15 of Environment Protection Act. If proved guilty, the offender can land in jail for five years, apart from paying a penalty up to Rs 1 lakh.
Only WBPCB officers are empowered to prosecute under EPA. They are likely to meet state advocate-general Kishore Dutta to finalize the legal steps to be taken against those who violate the HC order. In 2019, WBPCB had booked as many as 25 people and housing societies under EPA for the first time. Eventually, 15 were prosecuted on Diwali and New Year’s night for lighting banned fireworks. The case is now being tried and most of the accused are on anticipatory bail, said a WBPCB officer.
“Apart from the Calcutta High Court order, the National Green Tribunal will pass an order in connection with fireworks on November 9. On November 10, the HC is supposed to deliver another judgment. After these, we will work out our road map,” said WBPCB chairman Kalyan Rudra.
Police will book offenders under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code and the fire brigade will book them under Section 24 of Fire Service Act, sources indicated. Cops said they were also booking offenders under sections of the explosives act and disaster management act.
The Bidhannagar City Police commissioner held a coordination committee meeting with representatives of fire services department, CESC, Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation and other stakeholders in presence of senior police officers on Saturday, calling for steps to be taken at all levels to ensure the HC ban on firecrackers is maintained in the commissionerate area. A similar meeting will be held by Kolkata Police on Monday.
“We have initiated special drives to stop the sale of firecrackers in our area and checks are being conducted at nakas to stop entry of crackers into the Bidhannagar jurisdiction. We also sought help from other stakeholders to undertake large-scale awareness drives. We have made some special awareness videos which we will upload on our social media channels soon,” said Mukesh Kumar, the Bidhannagar police commissioner.
Kumar said they will also launch a fresh campaign with special focus on high-rises. “In the past, we have seen people in high-rises go to the terrace and burst crackers. We will take stock of that, too, and have already started sending advisories to residents’ welfare associations that strict action will be taken if anyone is found guilty of bursting crackers,” said a senior officer.