By Mahitab Assran
The government has announced a draft law outlining offences for harming natural reserves, reports state-owned Al-Ahram. The law would protect the environment from pollution and destruction through the formation of the Nature Protection Agency (NPA), which would fall under the Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs.
The draft proposes making it illegal to damage, catch, kill or transport protected animals, fish or plants in whole or any of its parts and offspring, living or dead. The plants and wildlife protected would be determined by the NPA.
It would be also illegal to damage habitats, food sources, pollute the water or area or damage the “natural beauty” in protected areas.
Punishments for offences would include prison sentences or fines up to EGP 200,000. Repeat offenders could see these punishments doubled.
The NPA would be partly government funded with the deficit made up by fees for licenses and permits, fines and compensation, and loans and grants that the NPA’s board of directors agree upon.
The bill also states that the NPA will cooperate with other International and Arab organisations that work for the protection of the environment.
Dina Thou El-Faqqar, an environmentalist activist, is not convinced the bill will actually be enforced in reality, sating: “No one will be punished.”
The Protected Areas Department under the Environmental Affairs Ministry “does not have access to any funds and can hardly ever be reached in order to report such illegal incidents”, she said. “There is no criteria of what should be considered ‘protected’ and ‘endangered’ and what is not; it’s all someone’s personal opinion.”