The Polluter Pays Principle is one of the three key principles upon which the National Green Tribunal (NGT), India’s green court, relies for delivering decisions. As per Section 20 of the NGT Act, 2010, while passing any order, decision or award, the Tribunal shall apply three core principles, including the ‘principles of sustainable development, precautionary principle, and the polluter pays principle’. Adhering to these principles has been essentially underscored to ensure that the orders or decisions of the Tribunal not only take care of the current environmental nuisance brought before it, but also try to ensure a sustainable future.
The Polluter Pays Principle is important for determining punitive costs of damages from environmental violations caused by industries or individuals. The principle is applied to ensure that the costs of mitigating environmental damage are internalized by the industry or the individual found liable, and not externalized. It is also an important means for tackling public health hazards that result from environmental pollution. The principle has the potential to play an important role in shaping the performance of industries/commercial enterprises and make them adopt environmentally responsible practices.