Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (November 19, 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 (November 19, 2020)

Banadag railway siding

Appropriate action for pollution prevention was being taken at Banadag railway siding in Jharkhand: High-capacity field rain guns and wind screens over and above the boundary wall were installed, along with an effluent treatment plant. This was according to the joint inspection report filed before the National Green Tribunal (NGT).

In pursuance to the July 17, 2020 NGT order, a committee was constituted comprising members from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board (JSPCB) and the district magistrate of Hazaribagh, to inspect the Banadag railway siding.

It is a public railway siding owned by the Indian Railways and comes under East Central Railway. The railway siding was in the revenue village of Banadag and extends to the villages of Katkamdag and Banka. The habitation of these villages was more than 500 metres away from the railway siding.

There was no major river, except for one seasonal streamlet in the southern side, which was about a kilometre away from the Banadag railway siding. No water flow was observed in the streamlet during the inspection.

There was one pond in eastern side, about 600 metres away from the siding. Gonda dam was about 2.5 km in the north of Banadag railway siding.

At Banadag railway siding, coal from Pakri Barwadh coal mining project of National Thermal Power Corporation Ltd (NTPC-PBCMP) was being loaded and transported to its various thermal power plants.

NTPC-PBCMP had valid consents to operate under Air Act 1981 and Water Act 1974. Both consents were valid till December 31, 2023. The company also had valid authorisation under the Hazardous and Others Wastes Rules, 2016 and was valid till May 16, 2023.

Agricultural fields were found on the northern and south eastern side of the railway siding. The cultivation of paddy and other crops were observed in the nearby fields. There were no signs of pollution in the paddy or other crop fields.

No forest land was found to be encroached by the railway siding. The Union Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change had accorded Stage-I and Stage-II clearance for diversion of 6.291 hectares of forest land in favour of NTPC Ltd for construction of siding along the Banadag railway siding.

Further, coal transportation trucks were properly covered with tarapaulins for prevention of spillage and generation of dust.

Permanent boundary wall 10-12 feet in height was constructed around the railway siding. About seven to eight feet of green agro net was installed to further increase the effective height of the wall.

Construction and installation of 20-feet height windscreen (over and above the boundary wall) was under progress. To prevent dust from the loading and unloading activity, high capacity fixed rain guns were installed and were operational.

Two to three rows of plantation were observed all along the boundary wall of railway siding.

The joint committee report said public roads were used by empty trucks and no coal transport trucks of NTPC were passing through the villages.

Alang-Sosiya Ship Recycling Yard

The highly polluting method of beaching has been selected to expand the existing Alang-Sosiya Ship Recycling Yard (SRY) by granting permission for an additional 15 number of plots each measuring 100x90 metres.

This is in addition to the existing 167 plots which were already using beaching methods for the purpose of carrying out ship-breaking activities, stated the report filed by the Conservation Action Trust with the NGT, against the proposed expansion of the ship breaking yard at Alang and Sosiya villages, Bhavnagar district, Gujarat.

The appellant (Conservation Action Trust) has placed on record several studies and documents to show that the beaching method was the worst method of ship breaking, both from the perspective of environment as well as health of the thousands of migrant workers engaged in this activity.

The beaching method of ship-breaking can never be environmentally safe and protective of human health.

The report also raised faults in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report. It said the EIA report was lacking with regard to the baseline monitoring of several hazardous pollutants associated with the ship-breaking industry.

These include asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), VOCs manganese, nickel, chromium, iron, aluminium, lead, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, particulate matter (PM), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx).

However, the project proponent has only conducted baseline studies regarding PM, SO2 and NOx. None of the other hazardous pollutants have been monitored.

Baseline monitoring of sediment pollution as well as study on incremental the load of the same are critical when the project in question is ship-breaking using the beaching method. In such a case, there is a huge ecological stress on the sediments and sea water.

However, the Project Proponent failed to conduct baseline studies as well as study the impact of incremental load due to the project in question on existing pollution levels.

Waste dumping

The NGT November 17 directed the district magistrate, Keonjhar, Odisha to look into the matter of dumping garbage adjacent to a private bus stand at old town in Odisha’s Keonjhar, which was hazardous to public health.

The district magistrate has been asked to take further action as found appropriate in accordance with the law.

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