Overall, environment crimes dipped marginally 1.5% in 2019 compared to previous year
At least 34,671 crimes related to environment were recorded in 2019, according to a recent report titled Crimes in India 2019 released by the National Crime Records Bureau. This was a little less than 2018’s 35,196 environment-related crime cases.
While the number dipped 1.5 per cent in a year, a closer look at the data revealed a disturbing trend.
For one, offences under Air / Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act and Environmental (Protection) Act increased by over 841 per cent and 466 per cent between 2018 and 2019.
Cases registered for violating Noise Pollution Act and the National Green Tribunal Act increased by nearly 14 per cent and 7 per cent respectively.
Environmental offences increase in 16 states
At least 16 states registered an increase in environmental crimes between 2018 and 2019, according to the NCRB data. Between 2017 and 2018, 12 states had reported an increase in such offences.
Rajasthan reported the maximum number of environment crimes at 10,782 cases, followed by Uttar Pradesh (1,882) in 2019. Environmental crimes increased by over 10 and 11 per cent respectively in these two states.
The offences increased by over 262 per cent in Chhattisgarh. Three North Eastern states — Meghalaya, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh — too registered a rise in such crimes.
|Environment Acts||Offences in 2018||Offences in 2019||Percentage change|
|The Forest Act & The Forest Conservation Act||2768||2112||-23.70|
|The Wildlife Protection Act||782||618||-20.97|
|The Environmental (Protection) Act||86||487||466.28|
|The Air & The Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act||17||160||841.18|
|The Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act||23517||22667||-3.61|
|Noise Pollution Acts||7947||8537||7.42|
|The National Green Tribunal Act||79||90||13.92|
|Environment & Pollution– Related Acts||35196||34671||-1.49|
Source: NCRB data
Cases registered under The Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), at 22,667, were the highest and followed by Noise Pollution Act at 8,537 cases.
At the same time, court pendency increased by over seven percentage points — to 14 per cent in 2019.
Court pendency on environmental crimes in 2018 was 7 per cent, according to an analysis in the State of India’s Environment 2020: In figures.
At present, around 86 cases are being disposed on a single day. But the courts need to dispose of 137 cases a day to clear the backlog of over 49,800 cases in a year.
|Environment-related crimes registered||Cases pending police investigation||Cases pending in court|
Source: NCRB data
The number of cases pending police investigation increased by over 14 per cent between 2018 and 2019. At least 7,164 cases were pending in 2019, in comparison to 6,281 in 2018, the report said.
About 89-99 per cent court cases remain unresolved under five of the seven acts related to forests, wildlife, environment protection and pollution. Most of them were cases under National Green Tribunal Act, showed the NCRB report.
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