Court Digest: Major environment hearings of the week (July 22 -26)

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

By DTE Staff
Published: Saturday 27 July 2019

Dumping of construction waste

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on July 23, 2019, directed the constitution of a Committee to inspect rampant dumping of construction materials on the flood plains of the rivers flowing though Pune and Pimpri-Chinchawad cities in Maharashtra, particularly the Mula-Mutha river.

The committee comprised of the chief engineer of the state's water resources department, the district collector of Pune, the member secretary of Maharashtra's Pollution Control Board (PCB), the SEIAA, Maharashtra and a senior scientist from the Central PCB, regional office at Pune.

The committee after inspecting the areas in question and verifying the facts has been entrusted to take appropriate measures and submit a report within six weeks.

Jharkhand’s asbestos mines

The National Green Tribunal (NGT), on July 22, 2019, heard the case of restitution of areas that were earlier under asbestos mining in Jharkhand.

The tribunal had, in October, 2015, directed Rajasthan, Karnataka, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh to list all abandoned asbestos mines and, in consultation with Indian Bureau of Mines, formulate a programme to visit and inspect each mine and submit report.

The director of mines, Jharkhand submitted a report in April, 2019 stating that certain steps have been taken and a detailed project report on the rehabilitation of the abandoned mines has been prepared with the cost of Rs 13.45 crore.

NGT has directed the state's chief secretary to oversee and implement the measures, particularly setting up of fencing with barbed wires, retaining wall and other steps and submit a compliance report by October 30, 2019.

PWM rule compliance

Take further action and meet the gaps regarding the implementation of the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 (PWM Rules), the NGT told the states and Union Territories (UTs) on July 22, 2019.

According to a report filed by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on May 30, 2019, the annual reports about the implementation of PWM Rules have not been submitted by the states of Haryana, Jharkhand, Lakshadweep and Mizoram.

In its report, the CPCB has also made further observations and recommendations which included state pollution control boards to ensure that the annual reports are to be submitted to it on July 31 each year along with the action plan.

The NGT also asked the CPCB to monitor the action taken by the states and UTs and furnish its further status report by August 30, 2019.

Pollution by industry in Raigarh

A new committee would look into and furnish an updated report on pollution caused by industrial units in the Tamnar and Gharghoda blocks of Chhattisgarh's Raigarh district, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed on July 22, 2019.

The operation of thermal power plants and coal washeries had been resulting in the contamination of water, air and land, with adverse impacts on the environment and health of the inhabitants.

A committee comprising of scientists from the Central Pollution Control Board, the Indian Institute of Technology, Dhanbad, and the Indian Institute of Forest Management, Bhopal, had written a report which pointed out certain deficiencies such as mine fires, insufficient green belt, no work on the diversion of the local Bendra nallah and embankments on the river Kelo.

The NGT found the report inadequate, as it did not address issues on the carrying capacity of the area, remediation measures, improved quality of soil, adequacy of the pollution control devices, fly ash management and ambient air quality with regard to PM2.5.

Stone crushers in Mahendragarh

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on July 24, 2019 ordered deputy commissioner of Mahendragarh, Haryana to close all illegally operating polluting stone crushers in the district and to initiate action against them.

The stone crushers were close to plantation, reserved forest and educational institution, according to the application filed by Mahendra Singh.

The area has been already suffering from scarcity of drinking water and the operation of stone crushers would lead to extraction of ground water, it added.

The tribunal also directed the deputy commissioner of Mahendergarh to assess the compliance of environment norms including the siting criteria, the ambient air quality, the carrying capacity of the area for permitting such polluting activity and health impact on the inhabitants.

Protection of mangroves

The NGT, on July 23, 2019, directed Goa's coastal authority to inspect the stretch of Chapora river along which there were mangroves. It sought a detailed report after verification of facts and circumstances set out in an application by Sagardeep Sirsaikar regarding the protection of mangroves.

Camurlim village near the river, containing the highest density of mangroves, was facing threat due to land filling of creeks and illegal constructions at Bardez, Goa, according to the application.

It was stated that the area where the construction was being undertaken falls under the no development zone according to Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification, 2011. As the area consists mostly of mangroves, it has been classified as CRZ-I according to the coastal zone management plan of Goa, 1996.

Raj Mahal hills

The NGT on July 24, 2019 considered remedial action against damage to the hills of Raj Mahal in Sahebganj district, Jharkhand.

A bench led by Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel, SP Wangdi and K Ramakrishnan had, in December 2018, asked Jharkhand’s PCB and the divisional forest officer of Sahebganj to file a report within a month. But no report was received even after six months.

The tribunal directed member secretary of the state PCB to be present on the next date of hearing, failing which non-bailable warrant would be issued against him.

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