Court Digest: Major environment hearings of the week (March 14-20, 2020)

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
Last Updated: Saturday 21 March 2020

Dumpyard waste 

The Uttarakhand Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board (UEPPCB) filed its report on a waste dump yard set up on Khoh river banks in Uttarakhand’s Kotdwar district.

The waste of Kotdwar Nagar Nigam was disposed of at Paniyali Talli in Ratanpur, the report noted. The site, in use by the Nagar Nigam since 2008, was not developed scientifically, it added.

Moreover, the possibility of leachate from the dump site seeping into the river during rain was evident.

The UEPPCB had asked the municipality to immediately stop illegal dumping of solid waste on the river bank. It was asked to establish a solid waste processing and disposal facility in accordance with the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016.

COVID-19 preparedness 

Show cause as to why directions should not be issued for dealing with health crisis arising out of the novel coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) in India, the Supreme Court (SC) directed prisons and social welfare departments on March 16, 2020.

The court also asked officials to suggest immediate measures for medical assistance to prisoners in jails and juveniles in remand homes.

The respondents have been asked to submit their replies in writing before March 20, 2020. The reply will contain the steps being taken and the relevant data necessary.

The SC noted that even though the government had advised social distancing, the “bitter truth was that our prisons are overcrowded, making it difficult for the prisoners to maintain social distancing.”

There are 1,339 prisons in India, and approximately 466,084 inmates live in them. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, the occupancy rate of Indian prisons is at 117.6 per cent. In states such as Uttar Pradesh and Sikkim, it is as high as 176.5 per cent and 157.3 per cent respectively.

Sand mining in Kane, Yamuna and Bangey

A joint committee was formed on March 18, 2020 to seek information and action-taken reports over sand mining in rivers Kane, Yamuna and Bangey in Uttar Pradesh’s Banda district.

The committee was represented by the UP state Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), Central Pollution Control Board and UP’s state pollution control board (UPPCB).

The committee was directed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to look into sustainability of the area for the extent of mining that should be allowed or proposed in the process of granting environmental clearance, consent to establish or consent to operate.

Debris dumping in Chenab

report was filed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) Monitoring Committee on March 17, 2020 on the rampant dumping of soil in Chenab and Tawi rivers.

The dumping was underway on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway-44 between Udhampur and Banihal, where four lanes are being constructed.

The report stated that violations in regard to dumping/ disposal of the excavated debris, including unauthorised and illegal dumping, was taking place in Nashri to Ramban segment.

It added there was a lack of proper maintenance of designated dumping sites leading to passage of muck/ debris into the Chenab area. At one stage representative of the project proponent (Gammon India Ltd) sought to shift liability to an agency engaged by them. He attributed the situation to landslides in the area.

Natural conservation zone

The shrinkage of natural conservation zone (NCZ) of National Capital Region (NCR) was the topic of report filed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change on March 18, 2020.

The committee formed to look into the matter observed that to get a realistic assessment of change in the NCZ within NCR, a fresh exercise using satellite data of comparable spatial resolution and season should be undertaken. It could help analyse land use map showing NCZ on the same scale.

Committee members suggested that National Remotes Sensing Centre or other Indian Space Research Organisation insitutions should be requested to undertake the exercise. 

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