K20mil fine eyed in law review


CORPORATE entities will face fines of up to K20 million under a review of the Environment Act being sought by Environment, Conservation and Climate Change Minister John Pundari.
Pundari said he has instructed the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (Cepa) to review the Environment Act 2000 and make specific amendments to measures applied to corporations and individuals who breached environment permits.
He said the current putative measures under Section 73 of the Act did not match the cost of damage done to the environment by industries. He singled out the extractive sector like mining and oil exploration activities.
According to the Act, a person who carries out an activity in relation to which a permit has been issued while that permit is suspended or cancelled is guilty of an offence.
The penalty is a fine not exceeding K250,000 for corporations and a maximum of K125,000 for others or imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or both.
Those who breach a condition of a permit can be fined a maximum of K100,000 for corporations, and K50,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or both for individuals.
Pundari said a fine of K250,000 for a mining giant was nothing compared to the cost of environmental damage that could have been resulted from a failure to comply with their environment permit conditions.
“Our people’s lives are dependent on the environment,” he said.
“That’s why I have already instructed Cepa to immediately review the Environment Act 2000 and increase the fine to K20 million so that they are liable to pay for the destruction or damage that could have been done from extracting copper, gold or oil and gas and or logging and other activities.”
He said most companies operating in the extractive sector were good corporate citizens and managed the environment well.
“But we also have some bad experiences of severe destruction being done to our environment and rivers and our people are being seriously affected as well, so it is about time, that we as a country tighten up our belts to deal with people who care less for our environment to some extent.”

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