Court Digest: Major environment hearings of the week (August 26-30)

Down To Earth brings you the top environmental cases heard in the Supreme Court, the high courts and the National Green Tribunal through the week

By DTE Staff
Published: Saturday 31 August 2019

Compensatory afforestation

The Supreme Court on August 26, 2019 directed the secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and chief secretary of Andaman and Nicobar Islands to find alternatives to provide compensatory aforestation to farmers from Andaman and Nicobar Island.

The Indian Ocean Tsunami, which hit the islands in 2004, had washed away lands of many farmers. The Additional Solicitor General ANS Nadkarni had, previously, informed the apex court that there was hardly any land available for compensatory aforestation as 87 per cent of the land mass has already been declared as a natural notified forest.

The SC has asked the authorities to submit a report within six weeks.

Mining around Jaisamand Lake

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on August 26 directed the Directorate of Rajasthan's Mining and Geology, to pay Rs 5 lakh as environmental compensation for not taking proper action on illegal mining activities surrounding Jaisamand lake and its catchment area. 

The application was filed by one Nanga Ram Dangi in 2014. He had also raised the issue with regard to depletion of wells used for irrigation as well as drinking purposes.

After taking into consideration the status of the entire area and the illegal mining in September 2018, the court granted the Directorate of Mines and Geology three months’ time to shut down all types of mining activities in the catchment area, and also in the area surrounding Jaisamand Lake.

The application, filed in 2014, was taken up on various dates of hearing because of non-compliance of orders.

The states' Mine Secretary, meanwhile, claimed that there is no illegal mining. However, Dangi in July countered the claims with various documents, including photographs of big mining pits in Awara, Boria, Sulawas, Bambora villages. All these sites are in Makradi river.

The imposed fine must be deposited with the Central Pollution Control Board within two weeks, the NGT said.

Encroachments in Bharatpur

Enkasa Mines and Minerals Pvt Ltd is illegally transporting mined materials through forest in Bharatpur district's Ghoghor village, Rajasthan, the NGT was told on August 29.

The miners have constructed a road in the forest land without due permission from the Forest Department and several complaints have been lodged with the department, stated an application.

Besides, the road originally constructed for the villagers have been encroached upon by the miners.

The chief conservator of Forest, Bharatpur informed the NGT that even though they had removed the encroachment and diversion of the roads, they are finding it difficult to take further action “in view of lack of sufficient manpower and unmatched illegal force” of the miners.

The tribunal directed the district magistrate, the conservator of forest and police to assist the forest department officials in removing the illegal encroachment wherever it is done and file a compliance report within four weeks.

Effluent treatment plant in Vapi

The NGT on August 28 sought a compliance report from a joint committee on remedial measures taken for the common effluent treatment plant (CETP) in Vapi Industrial Cluster in Gujarat.

An application was filed regarding pollution of river Daman Ganga and drain Bill Khadi in District Valsad in Gujarat on account of discharge of effluents by industries and CETP in Vapi.

The tribunal had sought information about the units responsible for discharging effluents beyond norms in CETP inlet.

It was stated that the effluents by individual contributors were collected in a common drain and CETP has no opportunity to assess the inlet norms of the individual industries.

With respect to the past violations, “compensation as assessed by the committee in respect of individual units as well as CETP is liable to be recovered as interim compensation on ‘Polluter Pays’ principle,” the court said.  

Limestone mining in Tamil Nadu

The NGT on August 26 expressed its disappointment with the report forwarded by the District Collector on limestone mining in Tamil Nadu's Ariyalur district.

The tribunal stated that the report did not mention about the installation of any air pollution controlling mechanism and whether the conditions of environment clearance /consent to operate /consent to establish and mining lease have been complied with.

The report mentions that “limestone to the depth of seven metres from limestone mine 1 and for the depth of five metres from limestone mine 2 have been extracted. But it is not known as to whether it is within the permissible limit,” the tribunal said.

It added that 12,000 litres of water per day was being used for domestic purpose and for the purpose of green belt development and water sprinkling activity. However, it is not clear whether any permission has been obtained from the concerned authorities for installing the borewell, the NGT said.

The tribunal directed the committee constituting of Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and the District Collector to ascertain all the aspects and submit a factual report. It also asked the committee to assess the compensation for damage caused to environment for any violations found.

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