Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (November 21, 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 (November 21, 2022)

Kolleru lake encroachment

The wildlife management division of Eluru district, Andhra Pradesh and the state forest department are effectively managing the Kolleru Wildlife Sanctuary and carrying out demolition of illegal encroachments in the Kolleru lake, a joint committee report filed before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) November 17, 2022 stated.

The report was sought by NGT in April this year following a petition by Daram Govinda Rajan, a resident of Chataparru village. The applicant flagged massive illegal encroachments by construction of ponds leading to ecological destruction in Kolleru lake, one of the prominent lakes in Eluru and Krishna districts of Andhra Pradesh.

The seasonal encroachments in the area, mostly for aquaculture, have been tackled by registering offence cases, demolishing bunds and village-level awareness programmes, the report mentioned. All the district-level departments related to Kolleru lake management are putting their best possible efforts to protect and conserve the lake area.

There are no large-scale deaths of birds or fishes observed in the place (as alleged in the complaint) and the water quality of the lake is suitable for wildlife propagation. 

The Kolleru Lake basin supported more than 400,000 birds in the recent past, the analysis showed. It harbours 50 per cent of the South Asian population and over 30 per cent of the global population of spot-billed pelicans, “which is a remarkable increase in number of particular important species after declaration of Sanctuary”. 

Haryana illegal sand mining

Three mining companies involved in illegal sand mining in village Pobari in Yamuna Nagar district of Haryana were directed by NGT to pay Rs 18.7 crore in environmental compensation.

Development Strategies India Ltd, Delhi Royalty Company and Mubarikpur Royalty Company were ordered to pay Rs 2.5 crore, Rs 4.2 crore and Rs 12 crore respectively.

The amount has to be deposited within a month with the Haryana State Pollution Control Board and utilised for restoration of the environment by preparing and executing an action plan in consultation with the district magistrate, the NGT order dated November 18, 2022 said. 

The action plan should cover restoration of degraded areas, post-mining remedial measures, restoring natural flow of river and taking other restitution activities, as required. The district environment plan may also be taken into account, the order stated.

Development Strategies India violated the requirement of undertaking replenishment study, the monitoring committee looking into the matter said. Not developing green belt, not implementing progressive mine closure plan, not installing CCTV cameras and not having GPS system, diversion of river flow, illegal instream mining, not providing weigh bridge at the entry of the mining lease area were clear violations by the company.

Delhi Royalty Company was also found to have not installed boundary pillars and continued mining even after termination of the lease and using groundwater transported through tankers, instead of using treated sewage water, the committee noted.

Mubarikpur Royalty Company was also found crossing the prescribed depth for mining, it added.

Hospital operating in a non-conforming area

NGT directed the concerned authorities to file their reply on the matter of a hospital running in a residential plot in non-conforming area in Una district, Himachal Pradesh. 

The court listed the matter for further consideration for January 23, 2023.

Naveen Kumar, the applicant, said that Shivalik Hospital is running a 10-bed hospital in violation of the  master plan of the state department of town and country planning. The hospital authorities haven’t obtained the ‘consent to operate’ under the Water Act, 1974 and authorisation under the Biomedical Waste Management Rules, 2016.

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