By Deepti Purwar, Law College Dehradun. 

Saving the environment is the need of the hour. Environment refers to the sum total of what is around us i.e. Plants, animals, humans. We cannot live without other fellow beings and our surroundings but the celerity with which we are destroying the environment will only lead to the destruction of the life from this earth. Therefore protecting the environment is of paramount importance today which is why everyone should contribute towards saving the Environment.

Save the Environment and you will Save the Life and Future should be the motto of every country and every individual. Thus to save the Environment various efforts were made. One of such effort is the adoption of Polluter Pays Principle.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)  recommended Polluter Pays Principle (PPP) as the ‘Guiding Principle of the International Economic Aspects of Environmental Policies’ in 1972. In 1973 the Council of the European Communities approved the First Program of Action on the Environment and the PPP was made one of the principles of the Community environmental policy. The PPP has been mentioned as one of the principles in many regional and international conventions. Thus, the polluter pays principle is one of the most efficient principles of environmental policies.

Meaning of Polluter Pays Principle:

The Polluter Pays Principle (PPP) is an environmental policy principle which requires the costs of pollution be borne by those who cause it. It aims at determining how the costs of pollution prevention and control must be allocated and the polluter must pay. The polluter pays principle has also been applied to emissions of greenhouse gases which cause climate change by the Rio Declaration of 1992.

India and Polluter Pays Principle:

India accepted Polluter Pays Principle as an integral part of sustainable development in India. The Courts in India have played an active role to preserve the environment and to implement sustainable development.

The Supreme Court in Indian Council for Enviro-legal Actions v. Union of India [1], recognized polluter pays principle as an integral feature of sustainable development and observed that theremedy and betterment of damaged society is part of the process of sustainable development.

A writ petition under Article32 of the Constitution was filed in the Supreme Court and the Court asked for a report to be prepared by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute(NEERI) on the available remedial alternatives. NEERI suggested the application of the Polluter Pays principle for the deliberate release of untreated acidic process waste water and negligent handling of waste sludge. Adopting this principle, the Supreme Court directed that the task of determining the amount required for carrying out the remedial measures, its recovery and the task of undertaking the remedial measures is placed upon the Central Government.

 In the M.C. Mehta v. Union of India & Ors(Calcutta Tanneries Case) [2], the Polluter Pays principle relating to relocation of industries was applied with a direction to those relocated industries to pay 25% of the cost of land. Those who did not pay for the cost of land were directed to beclosed.

Measures taken by NGT:

According to National Green Tribunal, every household in the city of Delhi will now have to pay a minimum environment compensation of Rs 100 for generating sewage. 76 per cent pollution  of river Yamuna is generated in NCT, Delhi, which is the result from discharge of industrial effluent and untreated sewage. There are a number of drains which carry these effluents to Yamuna and with the passage of time have converted it into stinking drain of effluents and sewage

The Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar clarified that the compensation in this regard would be directly proportional to the property tax or water bill whichever is higher and for those who reside in unauthorised colonies or not paying water bills, the amount would be in the range of Rs 100 to Rs 500.

NGT directed the Delhi government, Delhi Jal Board and all Municipal Corporations, Cantonment Board, electricity companies like BSES and all other civic authorities to require payment of environmental compensation from every household which is generating sewage in the entire NCT of Delhi on the Polluter Pays Principle.

The funds collected will be used to provide new sewage treatment plants (STPs) and other requirements as part of the NGT’s “Maili se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalisation Project 2017”.

Finances for the project shall be resourced by the Ministry of Water Resources under the National Mission for Clean Ganga.

The Tribunal allowed “phase implementation” of the Yamuna project. The first phase, which is expected to cost Rs 3,659 crore, will take up revitalisation of two drains — Najafgarh and Delhi Gate drains — which cause 63 per cent of the river’s pollution. The cost of the project is Rs 3,659 crore, which includes establishing of new STPs as well as providing of interceptors and sewer line.

The NGT also directed the Delhi Kal Board to submit the action plan for completing the first phase within a week. The Tribunal said there will be no “further extension” and erring officers will be held “personally liable” for default.

NGT imposed complete ban on burning of waste in open including garbage, leaves, plastic and crop residues, and violators will be fined Rs 5000 under Sec 15 of National Green Tribunal Act,2010 to tackle air pollution in NCT based on the Polluter Pays Principle.

NGT also directed the government to immediately spread mass awareness regarding ill-effects of burning waste materials in open areas. Any person who notices burning of such material would have a right to complain in writing or otherwise to SHO of concerned area, concerned Municipal Corporation, Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and its regional branches and to the heads of the concerned departments.

Other Measures:

Delhi Pollution Control Committee to ensure that all common effluent treatment plants (CETP) operate at optimum capacity.

Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development and other authorities to ensure all industries discharge trade effluents only in drains.

Delhi Jal Board to ensure all existing Sewage treatment plants operate to optimum capacity.

Delhi Jal Board , Delhi Development Authority, revenue department to take possession of required land, on which STPs are to be built, in 4 weeks.

All STPs to release effluents according to standards DJB and DSIIDC to introduce online monitoring system at specified observation points DJB to get desludging vehicles to transport sludge from septic tanks to nearest STP.


Policy of environment compensation adopted by NGT is a step towards environment Justice. To protect environment for the succeeding generations it was important to enact a legislation towards preservation of environment. Polluter Pays Principle is an effective check on the environment degradation. It is based on the principle that one must pay for his wrongs. The Polluter will have to pay compensation and the funds so collected shall be utilized in cleaning Yamuna.

Polluter Pays Principle is a precautionary measure taken by the Government of India for the preservation and restoration of the environment. This principle is not absolute in its application. Vehicles more than 10 years are still functioning on the roads, domestic garbage is still burnt instead of decomposition. Mass awarness is still lacking in the population. Public seminars and conferences should be organized for effective participation of individuals.

[1] AIR 2011

[2] AIR 1996