The Premier informed the Cabinet that there is a national plan of actions on environment protection for 2011-2015, but added that the existing mechanisms of the use of natural resources and penalties for environmental pollution do not give the desired effect.
"Forests are being cut over, water resources are being drained, river banks are being overbuilt and devastated," Azarov stated and added that the current economic mechanisms of penalties for environmental pollution are not feared or are being ignored.
"I'd like to ask you: who is the master in our house - poachers, loggers, builders, 'black diggers,' or the people and the state?" the Prime Minister stressed.
ForUm has asked experts and politicians why Ukrainians are so reckless regarding the nature and whether there is a point to strengthen responsibility for pollution of the environment.
Mykola Tereshchuk, MP of Ukraine, deputy chairman of the parliamentary committee on agrarian policy and land relations:
- Fines must be increased and responsibility must be toughened, it's obvious, but punishment alone will not solve the problem.
Every person without exceptions must realize that words "Save Mother Nature" are not just an inscription on a poster, but a vital necessity. People should instill in themselves the respect to the environment.
At all levels, starting from the cradle, we must promote healthy life stile and to hold nature protection measures. Otherwise, the situation will not change.
Mykhailo Chechetov, MP of Ukraine, first deputy chairman of the party of Regions faction:
- We must thank God for such paradisiacal climate conditions we have in Ukraine. Take Asian or African countries, where there is 50 degree heat and there is no rich soil. We were blessed with such treasures but it does not mean we can use them for free and soundlessly.
The position of the President and government, aimed at preservation of environment, is absolutely correct. We must instill care for nature from childhood. On the other hand, those adults who do not understand this must be punished.
Unfortunately, what we had in USSR we left behind. Sometimes we adopt really bad things from the West, including drugs and murders. But there are many positive examples to follow. In many countries, for example, if you drop a cigarette stub and miss a garbage bin you'll have to pay 200 dollars of fine. If we fine with 200 dollars for every dropped stub, we will be able to cut the staff of street cleaners twice.
Anatoly Seminoga, MP of Ukraine, head of the parliamentary committee on ecological policy and Chernobyl disaster:
- The problem of natural resources protection is complex. And this is due incomplete work of the authorities, prosecution and law enforcement departments. For some reason the preservation of the environment takes the tenth places among priorities in Ukraine, while in European counties this problem is on top of the list. There people understand that natural resources is the biggest treasure of a country, without which the country does not have a future.
We have egoistic economy or economical egoism. We only consume, while the natural resources are not endless.
Secondly, we have a problem of absence of ecological culture among our citizens. For our fellow citizens it is a big problem to go for a picnic and then clean after themselves. We should teach our children to respect the nature. We need to introduce social advertisement, which teaches people to collect garbage and care about natural resources.
At the same time, the problem must be solved at the legislative level. We have to systemize fines, as for the moment it turns out that for a plant director one thousand hryvnias of fine is nothing comparing to the cost of official trash pickup service. That's why people keep contaminating forests and plantations.
Until we have a priority of ecology in the country's development we won't be able to establish order in this sphere.
Alexiy Vasyliuk, expert, deputy head of National ecology center of Ukraine:
- I support the increase of fines, but the problem is that it will not solve the case, as there are other constituencies preventing the success, in particular, powerless state ecological inspection.
Despite the fact that the inspection has very small staff, some regional departments of the inspection are totally corrupted. The inspection needs to be refilled and shaken-up.
Another problem is toothless public ecological inspectors. During Soviet times public inspectors could even confiscate weapons, while now they are absolutely helpless. We need to adjust the rights of both public and state inspectors. Besides, we do not have a habit to observe environmental legislation. Wherever you go there are dumps, unauthorized slashes, pouching.
The question is not to fine, but to detain an offender. For example, I go to Luhanks region and see illegal mining on the preservation area. Such actions should result not in a simple fine, but in imprisonment for five years. But the only thing I can do is to report to the ecological inspection and to wait for a response for a month. During this month they will go on the place and will write me back that the violation has not been confirmed, as there is no equipment left. We do not have proper response units in this sphere.
I stand for the increase of fines by hundred times, so the offenders start fearing. Unfortunately, I doubt these fines will ever be executed, as we do not have a corresponding department to follow such cases.
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