Cabinet Co-Spokesman and Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila
An Effluent Tax is among new stricter measures planned by the Government via a new Environmental Act, the preliminary work of which was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers this week.
Energy Minister and Cabinet Co-Spokesman Udaya Gammanpila said there would be around 42 amendments to the existing Act enacted in 1980. Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera this week got Cabinet approval to proceed with amending the Act.
“The amendments propose far-reaching measures including an Effluent Tax to discourage environmentally-harmful discharges from factories and others. The tax will be based on the degree of contamination. This will financially incentivise industries to become fully environmentally-friendly,” Gammanpila said at the weekly post-Cabinet meeting media briefing.
He said the new Act would also focus on environmentally friendly management and use of chemicals as well as hazardous discharges and waste.
The Minister opined the National Environmental Act of No. 47 of 1980 needed to be strengthened in line with rapid industrial and urban development.
"The Central Environmental Authority, though it can bite, doesn't have strong enough teeth," quipped Gammanpila.
Strengthening of CEA's two major tools – licencing process and conduct of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIAs) – is another focus along with new and proper ways of assessment of damages to natural resources.
The Act underwent two previous amendments, once in 1988 and later in 2000.