V. MONITORING MECHANISMS AND ENFORCEMENT SYSTEMS
The absence of a permanent system for generating and maintaining, on a regular basis, basic data on various aspects related to the environment is a serious problem in Nepal. A unified system does not exist under which relevant data can be generated on principal natural resources such as land, water, forests and biodiversity, and changes occurring in their use over time. Similarly, data systems do not exist either on the extent of untreated toxic effluent discharges into the natural system or the effects of such discharges on ecosystems and human health. Emissions from industrial establishments and vehicles are becoming more and more of a serious problem, particularly in the fast-growing urban centres. Except for a "project approach" for measuring some of the environmentally damaging consequences (e.g., vehicular emissions in the Kathmandu Valley), there are various contributing factors to such pollution.
As stated above, umbrella legislation on environment protection has just been passed and regulations have to come into force making the Act fully operational. The monitoring mechanism envisaged in the Act is the appointment of environment inspectors or the assignment of other officials to act as inspectors. The functions of such an inspector, among others, are: (a) to monitor the actions taken to reduce, eliminate and control pollution according to the Act and its regulations; and (b) to monitor whether the conditions attached to the permit for a particular project have been followed. The inspector has the right to inspect the premises concerned, factories, equipment, vehicles, livestock, documents etc., and is authorized to impose a fine of up to Rs 5,000 on any individual or institution obstructing his or her work, subject to appeal to the appointed authority. According to the authorities concerned, the inspectors will be drawn from the respective agencies under the overall responsibility of the Ministry of Population and Environment. The agencies concerned with the environment, such as the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation and the Ministry of Water Resources, are all working on regulations necessary to carrying out their respective functions in coordination with the Ministry of Population and Environment. However, it will take some time for all the regulations to be put in place and the coordination mechanism to evolve and function.
The EIA guidelines deal in detail with monitoring and evaluation as well as spelling out the principles, types and intensity of monitoring. They also deal with indicators and the institutional aspects. Follow-up action on implementation of the guidelines has been slow, perhaps in anticipation of the umbrella legislation becoming effective.
Currently, "environmental administration is dispersed over a wide range of unrelated governmental agencies that lack intersectoral coordination and cooperation" (National Planning Commission/World Conservation Union, 1991a). The monitoring functions are spread among different agencies as provided for in the respective legislation. Much of the legislation has not been adequately designed, nor properly supplemented with supporting regulations. Hence, the monitoring work is weak and, in many cases, non-existent. A brief review of the existing monitoring mechanism shows that the monitoring function in the Ministry of Population and Environment is incorporated in the Environmental Standards, Monitoring and Evaluation Section under the Environmental Division. Monitoring at the Ministry of Finance, is undertaken through the Monitoring and Evaluation Division, whereas at the Ministry of Industry and Ministry of Water Resources, the monitoring function is performed by the Planning Divisio n. In the departments, the monitoring function is mostly combined with the planning function and, in some cases, with the management function. In the Department of Forests and Department of Industry/Irrigation, the monitoring function is under the Planning Division. In the Department of Soil Conservation and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, the environment function comes under the Parks and Sanctuary Management Division and Management and Monitoring Division, respectively. Most departments have district offices which do the on-site monitoring. The monitoring function is usually all embracing and is not limited to the environmental aspects. As a matter of fact, the principal work is the monitoring of the development activities of the implementing agency, with environmental monitoring being a subsidiary activity only. In other words, environmental monitoring has yet to be institutionalized.
In the forestry sector, the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation is basically the policy and programme formulating agency, and the Department of Forests, the Department of Soil Conservation are the implementing agencies as well as the monitoring agencies in their respective areas. In certain cases, the authority has been vested in a specific project or agency such as the Bagmati Watershed Management Project, which is directly supervised by the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation. Apart from such exceptions, the Department's jurisdiction covers the whole country. The Department of Forests, for example, is the custodian of the all the national forest areas and is supposed to preserve, maintain and utilize the forests. The Forest Act and regulations empower the Department to take punitive actions against those destroying or damaging forest property. The maximum penalty is a Rs 10,000 fine and imprisonment for one year, with minor penalties for smaller offences. The penalty is not spec ific to environmental damage, as it is of a generic nature dealing with forest encroachment and property damage. The Department of Forests, the Department of Soil Conservation and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation have district offices which are authorized by the Forest Act and regulations to undertake supervision and monitoring activities in their respective jurisdictions.
In the industry sector, the main monitoring agencies are the Department of Industry/Irrigation, and the Department of Cottage and Small-Scale Industries. In the industrial policy 1992, NBSM has been designated as the agency for monitoring industrial pollution. Since 1994, NBSM has been continuously monitoring the effluents of tanneries, wool processing industries and distilleries.
The monitoring system under the new legislation will be clarified once the regulations come into force. In the current situation, the ministries are responsible for policy formulation and adaptation, while the departments and agencies under them are responsible for implementation and, hence, monitoring the enforcement. It should be noted that enforcement of existing provisions with regard to the environment is minimal, except in the case of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation and the Department of Forests which have traditionally carried out some policing work in order to prevent and contain forestry encroachment and the poaching of wild life, respectively.