Kazakhstan to Double Penalties for Environmental Damage 

NUR-SULTAN – Kazakhstan is mulling the tightening of penalties for environmental damage caused by citizens and companies, said Kazakh Minister of Ecology, Geology, and Natural Resources Magzum Mirzagaliyev, reported Kazakh Prime Minister’s press service. 

Burabay resort area. Photo credit: Binur Yermukanova

The fines will be doubled from 27,780 tenge (US$65) to 55,560 tenge (US$130), according to the draft environmental code. The fines for violations by medium and large businesses will grow from 83,340 tenge (US$195) and 194,460 tenge (US$455) to 208,350 tenge (US$487) and 1,389,000 tenge (US$3,250), respectively. 

The penalties will apply to offenses such as the pollution of public places, destruction and damage of nature reserves, violation of the rules for the protection of water resources, fire safety and sanitary regulations in forests, destruction, or damage to forest fauna as well as damage or contamination of forests. 

Mirzagaliyev said the new environmental code, which will replace the code adopted back in 2007, enforces a more responsible and empathic attitude towards the treatment of animals. This follows several cases of cruel treatment of animals that caused a public outcry and were also mentioned by Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev during the expanded government meeting in July, who noted the importance of the document, particularly to educate the younger generation to show care and empathic behavior to the environment and animals.  

“But all suggestions that stipulate the tightening of punishment entail amendments to criminal and administrative codes. The wording will be later formulated by the parliament,” said the minister. 

The document, which was developed taking into account the experience of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, also envisions the closure of dolphinariums, which is what the nation’s animal activists have long been advocating for. 

“We added this idea to the bill. Local and foreign activists have called to close the dolphinariums. But it (the norm) will apply not only to dolphinariums but will also prohibit other situations related to the keeping of wild animals,” said Mirzagaliyev. 

Air quality and solid waste were the main reasons to develop the new environmental code, said Mirzagaliyev in February. He noted the ministry sought to include the regulations that would prevent the adverse environmental impact in the first place. 

Kazakhstan’s environmental policy is based on several major principles written in the draft code. It includes the ‘polluter pays and fixes’ principle, which will control large company emissions with fines and responsibility for environmental damage. 

Another principle will oblige industrial enterprises to undergo a technological audit to be offered the best available technologies (BAT) to produce fewer emissions as well as oblige local executive bodies to entirely redirect the revenue from the fines to measures that should reduce emissions.

Tokayev said in his Sept.1 state-of-the-nation address the new code should be adopted by the Parliament by the end of this year. 

The nation is also developing a draft bill on the protection of animals. It is designed to prohibit veterinary or other procedures that may cause pain for animals without the use of veterinary anesthetic drugs, inciting animals to fight one another, refusal of animal owners to fulfill their obligations to take care of their animals until they are placed in animal shelters, the organization of animal fights, use of tools or any other equipment that may cause injury or death of an animal, among other measures.

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