Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (June 2, 2020)

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 (June 2, 2020)

COVID-19 negative individuals should not be ‘detained’ in quarantine centers: Allahabad HC

The Allahabad High Court (HC) on May 30, 2020 directed those who were quarantined and tested negative for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Uttar Pradesh — including migrant workers — be released once their quarantine period is over.

“People who completed their quarantine period and tested negative cannot be further detained in quarantine centres against their wishes. It would be in violation of personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution of India,” the court added.

The state’s chief secretary was asked to set up a three-member committee in every district to ensure smoother, greater and more effective functioning of the state’s quarantine centers. The committees should ensure the centres are not only functioning properly but are also maintained, controlled and administered efficiently.

The HC also entrusted the committee the task of providing help, assistance and guidance to those who are quarantined and ensure they are released forthwith, “provided they tested negative after completing quarantine period and there is no legal impediment in releasing them,” said the order passed by Justices Shashi Kant Gupta and Saurabh Shyam Shamshery.

The HC was hearing a plea filed for the release of the members of the Tablighi Jamat who were quarantined after they returned to Uttar Pradesh after visiting Markaz Nizamuddin in Delhi on March 5.

Protection and restoration of water bodies

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on June 1 directed all states and Union territories (UTs) to submit information to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on:

  • Number of identified water bodies
  • Location details
  • Water quality status
  • Compliance status with respect to designated best use
  • Identified water bodies requiring restoration
  • Prioritisation of the water bodies requiring restoration
  • Detailed action plans for restoration of identified polluted water bodies

The states and UTs have to submit the details by July 31. These reports will then be compiled by the CPCB and a report filed before the NGT by October 31.

The NGT in its order emphasised the importance of harvesting surplus water during excessive rains from areas of catchment. This is to be done by:

  • Enhancing capacity of existing ponds / water bodies
  • Creation of water harvesting structures in sub-watersheds to the extent possible
  • Setting up of additional water bodies and water harvesting structures wherever viable
  • Utilising available funds including under Mahatma Gandhi Employment Guarantee Act
  • Involving the community at large on every level

Gram Panchayats can play an important role in the matter and once adequate capacity enhancement of waterbodies takes place, excess flood and rain water can be channelised using appropriate water harvesting techniques, the NGT said.

This needs to managed by district magistrates in coordination with the Department of Irrigation and Flood Control or other concerned departments, the NGT added.

District magistrates were asked to hold a meeting of all stakeholders for the purpose according to the District Environment Plan or Watershed Plan within a month.They also need to ensure the restoration of at least one water body in every village as far as possible, apart from creating any new ponds or water bodies.

Action taken in this regard has to be compiled at the state level and reports furnished to the chief secretaries of the states by concerned district magistrates. A consolidated report of the state should then be forwarded to the CPCB by August 31.

Tree cutting and effluent discharge near Delhi’s Anand Vihar railway station

The NGT on June 1 directed Delhi’s principal conservator of forest to look into the cutting of trees outside Anand Vihar railway station. It also directed the Delhi Pollution Control Committee and the East Delhi Municipal Corporation to take adequate steps for the treatment of effluents being discharged in the drain at Anand Vihar.

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