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Environmental Crime Legal Framework in Nepal

Nepal’s constitution contains provisions for protecting the environment. Part 3, entitled Fundamental Rights and Duties, outlines citizens’ rights to a clean environment, stating:

  • Each person shall have the right to live in a healthy and clean environment
  • The victim of environmental pollution and degradation shall have the right to be compensated by the pollutant as provided for by law
  • Provided that this Article shall not be deemed to obstruct the making of required legal provisions to strike a balance between environment and development for the use of national development works.
  • Article 51 highlights State policies - namely, the proper utilization of land through proper regulation and management on the basis of productivity of land, its nature, and also by maintaining environmental balance.

    Featured Legislation

    1982: The Soil and Watershed Conservation Act was signed. The legislation defines “Soil and Watershed Conservation" as acts to prevent or save any area from being destroyed from natural calamities such as flood, landslide and soil-erosion and keep the volume and flow of water in a normal condition or keep on maintaining cleanliness by preventing the flow of water from being muddy. The legislation prohibits acts of throwing away solid wastes or similar other detritus contaminating the environment or building a site for collecting or keeping such solid wastes or detritus.

    1987: The Solid Waste (Management and Resource Mobilization) Center Act was approved, establishing the Solid Waste Management and Resource Mobilization Center as the responsible authority for the management of solid waste.

    1989: The Nepal Water Supply Corporation Act was enacted. This legislation establishes the Nepal Water Supply Corporation as the perpetual, autonomous government controlled corporation responsible for the supply of drinking water, and prohibits certain acts and provides penalties/punishment for violation.

    1992: The Industrial Enterprises Act was adopted, requiring permission for the extension and diversification of environmentally sensitive industries. It also provides financial incentives for industrial enterprises that minimize harmful effects on the environment.

    1993: The Forest Act was created. The legislation ensures that trees cannot be felled in such a way that it may cause significant adverse effects in the environment or cause soil erosion in watershed areas. The government of Nepal may also impose restrictions on collection, cutting, consumption, transportation sale, distribution or foreign export of the prescribed forest products for the protection of biodiversity and environment upon publishing a notice in the Nepal Gazette.

    1996: The Environment Protection Act was brought into force. The legislation defines “Pollution" as the activities that significantly degrade, damage and harm the environment. It also ensures that no citizen shall create pollution in such a manner as to cause significant adverse impacts on the environment, designating Environmental Inspectors to inspect whether or not the acts of mitigation, avoidance or control of pollution have been carried out in accordance with this Act or the Rules framed under this Act.

    2002: The Nepal Biodiversity Strategy was unveiled. It is  is a national strategic document with a cross-sectoral approach. The overall objective is to provide a framework for the conservation of biological diversity, the maintenance of ecological systems and the equitable sharing of the benefits accrued from them. Specific objectives concern: a) preservation of indigenous and endemic species and biological resources; b) alleviation of poverty and socioeconomic development in rural areas; c) participation of local communities, indigenous peoples and the public in general; d) enhancing education for public participation and awareness; e) improvement of the management process of other natural resource sectors including forests, agricultural lands, wetlands, rangelands and mountains; g) human resource development, institutional capacity building and the empowerment of women leading to full participation at all levels.

    2003: The National Wetland Policy was drafted, defining wetlands as perennial water bodies that originate from underground sources of water or rains. It means swampy areas with flowing or stagnant fresh or salt water that are natural or man-made, or permanent or temporary. The aim of the policy is to conserve and manage wetlands resources wisely and in a sustainable way with local people’s participation and to put the conservation and management aspects of wetlands conservation within the framework of broader environmental management.

    2012: The Essential Commodity Protection Act was passed, recognizing water as an essential commodity and strictly protects drinking water. The legislation also prohibits any unauthorized use or misuse, stealing, damaging etc. of drinking water.

    2018: The National REDD+ Strategy was adopted, serving as a nationwide sectoral document aiming at Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Vision expressed by the Strategy is “Enhanced carbon and non-carbon benefits of forest ecosystems contribute to the prosperity of the people of Nepal". The consequent Mission aims to strengthen the resilience of forest ecosystems for emission reductions and increased environmental, social, and economic benefits through improved policies, measures and institutions with enhanced stakeholder capacity, capability and inclusiveness

    Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

    • Nepal’s amended Environment Protection Act (2019) has incorporated the issue of climate change into its legislation, placing the onus on the authorities to make the public aware of global warming and its effects. It also ensures the government of Nepal recognizes those sectors of the economy responsible for producing greenhouse gas so that measures can be created to mitigate its effects on the environment. For example, The current Act will incorporate more safeguards and impose higher liabilities on businesses to protect the environment, pushing for mandated submissions of environmental study reports. Said reports will require the organization to lay out foreseeable environmental impacts the project will have, and measures taken by them to reduce adverse impacts. For those organizations who do not comply with the legislation, authorities are empowered to halt the project immediately. Moreover, if the organization does not meet the criteria when submitting an environmental study report, the proposer will not be allowed to submit an environmental study report for five years, deterring frivolous proposals and ensuring that quality reports are submitted for consideration. Finally, the proposer must prepare an environmental management plan, outlining probable solutions that can be adopted and measures undertaken to safeguard the environment; this will be followed by a progress report which has to be submitted every six months. Carbon trading is also a feature of the Act, empowering the government of Nepal to engage in carbon trading with foreign governments and institutions. Punitive measures, by way of fines, will also be enforced: a fine of up to five million rupees can be levied for non-compliance, strengthening regulatory safeguards and applying harsher punishments to those members of big business who flout environmental legislation.

    References and Further Reading


    Ministry of Forests and Environment: