Polluter pays principle & its application in India

Polluter pays principle & its application in India


The Industrial Revolution has improved the existences of individuals from various perspectives in the 21st century. Then again, sadly, the industrial revolution has caused industrial pollution. Technology has grown definitely and manufactured products have supplanted the antiquated products. The results are the inescapable piece of the assembling interaction. Henceforth, standards, for example, ‘prudent guideline’ and ‘polluter pays rule’ are protected commands to check the corruption of the climate. In this manner, it’s an easy decision for a resident to know about the standards of environmental law. In specific cases, the effects of the industrial debacle are supposed to be capable till date.

What is polluter pays principle

The ‘polluter pay’ principle basically holds the polluter liable for the pollution caused to the environment. The polluter is liable for each harm caused to the environment. So as indicated by the ‘polluter pay principle’, the polluter needs to remunerate the victims of pollution as well as make up for the rebuilding of environmental degradation caused Under 1972 and 1974 OECD Recommendation(1)(2), the measures to be taken by the polluter for controlling the pollution is chosen by public specialists with the goal that the environment is in adequate state post the industry activity. Consequently, the polluter bears the cost of health risk caused to the public just as the cost of rebuilding of the environment. All in all, the costs of the measures ought to think about the cost of the goods and services, the production or utilization of which prompted pollution. The cost of the measures should not be joined by the subsidies as it would prompt bending in international trade and investment.


The Polluter Pays Principle was first presented in 1972 by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Guiding Principles concerning International Economic Aspects of Environmental policies where under the polluter was considered liable for the environmental harm and pollution. In this way, the Rio Declaration set out the rules for sustainable development meaning along these lines a technique to cater the necessities of the current generation without bargaining the requirements of things to future generation. In promotion of the aim of sustainable development Rio Declaration Principle 16 of the Rio Declaration cherished the Polluter Pays principle expressing that the polluter should bear the cost of pollution.

Flaws in Polluter pays principle

The facts confirm that polluter pays principle has a beneficial outcome to diminish pollution. The principle appears to be very pertinent for pollution that happens during industrial movement, despite the fact that it stays wasteful on account of historical pollution. Most agricultural nations, be that as it may, have not yet bought in to the PPP as a principle environmental approach rule. As Rege (1994) calls attention to, this is because of unfavourable economic conditions.

The flaws in this principle are as follows:

  • First and foremost, ambiguity actually exists in figuring out ‘who is a polluter’. In legal phrasing, a ‘polluter’ is somebody who straightforwardly or by implication harms the environment or who makes conditions identifying with such harm. This definition is so wide as to be unsupportive much of the time.
  • Countless helpless households, casual sector firms, and subsistence farmers can’t bear any extra charges for energy or for garbage removal.
  • Small and medium-size firms from the conventional sector, which basically serve the home market, think that it’s hard to give greater expenses to the domestic end-clients of their products.
  • Exporters in non-industrial nations ordinarily can’t move the weight of cost disguise to foreign clients because of flexible interest.
  • Numerous environmental issues in developing countries are brought about by an overexploitation of common pool assets. Admittance to these common pool assets (in accordance with the PPP) could be restricted now and again through relegating private property rights, in any case, this arrangement could prompt serious distributional clashes.

These issues make it hard to actualize the PPP as a guideline for environmental policy in developing countries. Notwithstanding the fact that Polluter Pay Principle was publicized by early conservationists as a way to decrease ecological pollution, still many think about it as a ‘vague idea’. Some set forward their contention that under this principle a polluter satisfies his commitments when he pays probably some of administrative costs of the agencies who control pollution exercises.

Polluter Pays Principle in the Indian Context

In Indian environmental jurisprudence, the ‘polluter pays’ principle incorporates environmental costs just as immediate costs to individuals or property. The Supreme Court of India has fleshed out the proportion by expressing that the ‘remediation of the harmed environment is a piece of the interaction of the sustainable development and as such the polluter is liable to pay the cost to the individual victims just as cost of switching the harmed ecology.’

  • C. Mehta v. Union of India (Oleum Gas Leak Case) (1986) – it was pronounced by the court that ‘we need to develop new principles and set down new standards, which would deal with the new issues which emerge in an exceptionally industrialized economy’.
  • The meaning of this judgment lies in the court’s detailing of the principle of the proportion of liability of industry occupied with ‘hazardous or inherently dangerous activities’. Such measure should be corresponded to the greatness and limit of the endeavour. Also, the court coordinated the industry either to move from the current area or develop a green belt around it as a condition precedent to restart the industry.
  • Further, the industry was approached to store an amount of Rs. 35,00,000/ – in a bank and a guarantee of Rs. 15,00,000/ – with the court for pay to be paid to one who can demonstrate under the watchful eye of the court of law that he endured in view of the Oleum gas leakage from the Sri Ram Food and Fertilizer Corporation. Consequently an imaginative cure was developed by the Supreme Court which was indirect application of ‘polluter pays principle’.
  • Indian Council for Enviro-Legal Action vs. Union of India (1996) – The Court held that once the action continued is perilous or characteristically hazardous, the individual continuing such action is liable to make great the misfortune caused to some other individual by his movement regardless of the fact whether he took sensible consideration while carrying on his action. The rule is introduced upon the actual idea of the activity continued.
  • Vellore Citizens’ Welfare Forum v. Union of India (1996)The Court deciphered the significance of the Polluter Pays Principle as the absolute liability for damage to the environment stretches out not exclusively to repay the victims of the pollution yet in addition the cost of re-establishing the environmental degradation. Remediation of the harmed environment is essential for the interaction of ‘Sustainable Development’ and as such the polluter is liable to pay the cost to the individual victims just as the cost of switching the harmed ecology.
  • C. Mehta v. Union of India and Ors (Taj Trapezium Case) (1996) – it was reiterated by the apex court the ‘polluter pays principle’ and underscored the need of utilization of the principle. The yellowing and rotting of the precious national monument, the Taj Mahal, involved worry for this situation. As indicated by the report of the National Environment Engineering Report Institute and Varadarajan Committee in 1990 and 1995 separately, the foundries, chemical industry and Mathura refineries were the significant polluters of the Taj Mahal.
  • The court ordered the industries to change to gas from fuel or move their location of work. The industries which didn’t consent to orders, those enterprises were closed down genuinely.
  • Justice Kuldeep Singh added another measurement to the ‘polluter pays principle’. He expressed that the labourers of the industries ought to endure because of closure or moving of location. The labourers should be given compensatory benefits as private convenience, progression of their work till the industry restart and so on.
  • From that point forward the courts have over and over have underlined that the rights and obligations of the specialists can’t be undermined with. This episode was a watershed throughout the entire existence of environmental law management.
  • C. Mehta v. Kamal Nath & Ors (1997) – The Court held that pollution is a common wrong and is a tort submitted against the local area all in all. In this way, any individual guilty of causing pollution needs to pay compensation for rebuilding of the environment and ecology. Under the Polluter Pays Principle, it isn’t the job of Government to meet the costs associated with one or the other counteraction of such harm, or in doing healing activity, on the grounds that the impact of this is move the monetary weight of the pollution incident to the taxpayer.

Author: Kavya S,
CHRIST (Deemed to be University), 4th year BA LLB

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