Prime Minister Narendra Modi initiated the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in October 2014. Now, the flagship mission is picking pace with a legal intervention added to its mold. The Ministry of Environment and Forests is going to introduce the Environmental Laws (Amendment) Bill to add violations like littering, throwing waste in the open, dumping electronic waste, defacement of public places and use of banned plastic bags to the non-cognizable criminal offense category. It will count as a minor offense with on-the-spot fines.
This means that though the offense will not call for FIRs or arrests, it will have monetary penalties much like the penalties which come under the category of ‘making atmosphere noxious to health’, the section 278 of Indian Criminal law.
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Littering is a common occurence in India, one may even refer it to as chronic. People can’t help but litter everywhere, be it roads, railway tracks, floors, water bodies etc. Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was a mission to make people more responsible towards their surroundings and make them take charge of the cleanliness around them. This legal step is in the hope that it will become a part of a larger system with social checks on littering.
Minor Offenses will also include regulation checks on the kind of material being used. For instance, the use of thin plastics when banned will earn people a penalty. Also, people will have to follow a certain way of disposing the waste. The authorities hope that this will make people more accountable.