Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (August 26, 2022)

Down To Earth brings you the top environmental cases heard in the Supreme Court, the high courts and the National Green Tribunal
Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (August 26, 2022)

Mental Health Care Act, 2017

The Bombay High Court August 23, 2022, gave the Government of Maharashtra time till August 29 to make a statement about the timeframe within which the state mental health authority would be formed under Section 46 of the Mental Health Care Act, 2017.

The court’s move came in the wake of a petition filed by Harish Shetty, a doctor by profession. The petitioner had filed a public interest litigation alleging ineffective implementation of the Mental Health Care Act, 2017 as far as the state of Maharashtra was concerned.

The Act of 2017 is enacted to provide mental healthcare and services to persons with mental illness and to protect, promote and fulfill the rights of such persons. Chapter VIII contemplates the establishment of the State Mental Health Authority.

The Advocate General told the court that the Authority was formed October 23, 2021However, the non-official members contemplated under section 46(1)(g) to (n) had not been appointed.

The court stressed that the authority be made functional as soon as possible.

Pachin and Senki river restoration

The National Green Tribunal (Eastern Bench, Kolkata), August 25 directed the Chief Secretary of Arunachal Pradesh to file a personal affidavit about action taken to provide adequate funds for the rejuvenation of the Pachin and Senki rivers and their tributaries by October 31.

The tribunal also directed the Government of Arunachal Pradesh to complete the entire process of technical and financial bids for the rejuvenation of the Yagamso river in Itanagar.

The timeline for the completion of the project should also be mentioned in the compliance affidavit, the tribunal said.

Soapstone mining in leopard habitat

A second petition was filed before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) August 25, objecting to the report of a joint committee appointed by the tribunal to look into the grant of environmental clearance (EC) in Uttarakhand.

The petitioner, Suraj Singh Karki, had initially appealed to the NGT to quash the environmental clearance granted March 12, 2021, by the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), Uttarakhand.

The mining lease measuring 10.841 hectares was for the extraction of soapstone in Nayal Dhapola village, Bageshwar district.

The NGT had January 21, appointed a joint committee comprising of the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, District Magistrate, Bageshwar and the Regional office of the Central Pollution Control Board to look into the matter.

The Joint Committee had failed to address the issue of mining affecting the habitat of leopards found around the mining lease area, the appellant said August 25. The SEIAA had also granted the EC without considering the impact and danger of mining in a seismologically dangerous zone.

Katepurna reservoir fishing

The Bombay High Court August 23 dismissed a petition filed by the Katepurna Matsya Vyavasaya Sahakari Sanstha Maryadit for undertaking fishing activities at Katepurna Reservoir in Maharashtra’s Akola district.

The petitioner is a cooperative society and its members are local fishermen, as well as project-affected persons under the Katepurna Irrigation Project. The society has been awarded fishing contracts since 1990 at the Katepurna Irrigation Project. These contracts were for a duration of five years each.

On February 8, 1988, the revenue and forest department of the state issued a notification declaring the area to be a sanctuary called the Katepurna Wildlife Sanctuary.

According to the society, it had been issued the fishing contract till June 30, 2023. It was thus entitled to undertake fishing activities at Katepurna reservoir. However, on December 11, 2020, its members were restrained by officials of the forest department from undertaking such activities.

The society, in its writ petition, had sought a declaration that it was entitled to continue to undertake fishing activities.

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