7 May 2020
What is EPCA?
- The EPCA was constituted with the objective of protecting and improving the quality of the environment and preventing and controlling the environmental pollution in the National Capital Region, under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. The EPCA is also mandated to enforce Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) in the city as per the pollution levels.
- The reason why EPCA is an authority, and not just an advisory committee, is because it has powers similar to those enjoyed by the Centre. Specifically, it can issue directions in writing to any person, officer or authority, including for – but not limited to – stoppage of electricity, water and other services. If its directions are not followed, it has powers to file criminal complaints (under section 19 of the Act) before courts.
- The EPCA has been empowered to take Suo motu action as well as on the basis of complaints made by any individual, representative body or organisation functioning in the environmental issues sector. One of the EPCA’s important powers is the redressal of grievances through complaints.
- Given that the EPCA has been empowered to initiate prosecution, the presence of officials from so many departments and municipal corporations is a cause for concern. This is because most violations of environmental law in India happen thanks to the connivance of enforcement agencies, including municipal bodies.
- EPCA was reconstituted with 20 members after the expiry of its last tenure in 2018. Members include DG of TERI; CEO of Centre for Energy, Environment and Water; former professor of surgery, AIIMS.