There is talk about amending the current legislation on the protection of environment, and that is indeed good news.

The circle of those calling for tougher legislation on the protection of environment is getting larger, and that is encouraging, but the focus seems to centre on toughening up penalties for violations of the existing guidelines for the protection of environment and biodiversity, with other aspects left untouched.

Criminalising violations and stiffening punishment are indeed vital components of any envisaged reform, but they do not touch on the essence of the challenges facing the environment.

There are many factors that seem to be totally disregarded when it comes to a clean environment, and they include toxic emissions, polluting factories, unchecked use of pesticides and insecticides, and cigarette smoke in public places.

Uncontrolled use of pesticides and insecticides often cost the agricultural sector, as exporting produce to neighbouring countries was stopped; on the other hand, recent studies conducted in Western countries have confirmed that pesticides lower children’s intelligence – an ominous thought.

Pollution takes an even higher toll on life and environment in urban areas, so before thinking of increasing the penalties for violations, the government should seriously start implementing the existing legislation, giving monitoring its application a higher priority.

Violations should not be allowed to happen, but for that there is need for qualified personnel and political will to ensure the strict implementation of the law.

Once the message is clear that the government is serious about enforcing the law on environment, those contemplating defying the protecting guidelines will think twice about, or be deterred from, doing so.

Like with many other issues, once the law reigns supreme and is scrupulously upheld, there is no place for ambiguities and contraventions.