Court Digest: Major environment hearings of the week (October 12-16, 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
Published: Sunday 18 October 2020

Karnataka green labs

The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) reported to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on accreditation for environmental laboratories.

The state has only three such private labs recognised by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC).

The state has more than 65,000 working industries; they need water, air, noise and soil samples monitoring according to the Water and Air Act. It is impossible to get the samples analysed by these limited MoEF&CC recognised laboratories.

Also, it was not practical to analyse samples at labs located far away from an industry.

The KSPCB chairperson extended by six months the time to get recognition from the ministry by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL)-accredited laboratories.

This will help industries comply with mandatory tests like those of water, air, noise and soil.

The report requested the NGT to permit the NABL accredited laboratories to get MoEF&CC recognition in reasonable time in the interest of the environment and public at large.

The autonomous NABL, under the Department of Science & Technology, was established to provide third-party assessment of quality and technical competence for testing and calibration laboratories.  

DSR for Banka district

The NGT October 14, 2020 directed a fresh district survey report (DSR) on sand mining in Banka district of Bihar. An application filed in the NGT had noted that an interim DSR had been prepared for sand mining in Banka district in 2018 but had never been finalised.

The NGT also directed that the DSR must be prepared through consultants accredited by the National Accreditation Board of Education and Training / Quality Control Council of India.

The DSR so prepared should be submitted to the district magistrate who would verify it only in respect of the relevant facts pertaining to the physical and geographical features of the district.

After such verification, the magistrate would forward the DSR for examination and evaluation by the State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC).

The SEAC, after appraisal of the report, would then forward it to the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority for consideration and approval provided it met all scientific / technical requirements. 

EPR under PWM Rules 2016

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has received around 160 comments from various stakeholders and organisations on the guidelines document for Uniform Framework for Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR) under Plastic Waste Management Rules (PWM Rules), 2016.

The comments were received from Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, organisations working in the area of waste management, industry, industry associations, civil society organisations and citizens.

These comments are currently being compiled and reviewed by the MoEF&CC. Subsequently, the EPR framework would be finalised.

Some of the features included in the document for Uniform Framework for Extended Producers Responsibility are:

  • The EPR should be brand-neutral and geography-neutral
  • Penalties should be imposed on the producer / importer / brand owner for the portion of waste not collected against the targeted collection. The fees would be used for creating infrastructure for plastic waste management
  • The uniform framework for EPR consists of three models for the producers / importers / brand owners for selection of mechanism under which they want to implement the EPR

The guidelines provide for the following three models:

  • Fee-based model
  • PRO-based model
  • Plastic-credit Model

While adopting any one of the models or both the models at the same time, the producers / importers and brand owners need to register themselves at the national registry.

This was stated in the action taken report by the MoEF&CC in the matter of original application No. 29/2020 (Avani Mishra Vs Union of India), uploaded to the NGT site October 12, 2020.

Canacona National Highway Bypass

The project proponent responsible for the construction of Canacona National Highway Bypass had planted mangroves on National Highway-17. This was one of the conditions given in the no-objection certificate September 1, 2019.

The Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA) said since one section of the project was within 300-500 metres from the turtle nesting site, a no-horn zone was imposed while granting permission. This was partially complied with by planting mangroves.

The affidavit-in-reply by the GCZMA was in response to the following objections raised by Dattaprasad Prabhu Goankar before the NGT:

  • Non-compliance of conditions in coastal zone regulation September 28, 2015 granted for construction of Canacona National Highway Bypass on National Highway-17. This involved construction of three bridges over Talpona river, Galgibag river and Maxim creek
  • Non-compliance of conditions in NOC September 1, 2017 granted by the GCZMA for felling of mangroves and putting up of sound and light barriers on Mashem bridge
  • Non-compliance of conditions in NOC April 30, 2019 granted by the GCZMA for temporary earth filling in Galpibag river

The report by GCZMA informed the NGT that the project was completed November 29, 2019.

The GCZMA had been continuously monitoring the work of the construction of Mashem Bridge. The project proponent had removed the mud which was put to facilitate the construction of the bridge.

Mining in Bhilwara

The NGT granted time to the Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board (RSPCB) for submitting a final report on remedial actions against illegal blasting and mining by Jindal Saw Ltd, Bhilwara, by January 31, 2021.

The report by the RSPCB August 19, 2019, had acknowledged vibrations in the buildings in the vicinity of the mining activity.  The adverse impact was on structural as well as non-structural aspects.

The report recommended that ‘tell tales’ (equipment to monitor cracks) be installed across the cracks. The mining area was to be pre-split from the village. A team of experts had been deputed the report had stated.

The NGT October 10, 2019 had accordingly directed the district magistrate of Bhilwara to furnish a fresh report on the matter.

A report October 1, 2020 by RSPCB stated that the interim study reports of CSIR–CIMFR, Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh, CSIR-CBRI, Roorkee in Uttarakhand and the Department of Hydrology, IIT, Roorkee had been received from the district collector of Bhilwara.

The team of CSIR-CBRI, Roorkee, had started the remaining study of geotechnical investigations and monitoring of cracks in houses of Pur village from September 28, 2020, which would be completed shortly.

The report requested that the interim study reports be taken on record and said the delay in submission of final reports along with mitigation measures for the existing problems in Pur village should be acknowledged due to the present COVID-19 pandemic situation.

The interim reports are on ‘blast induced vibrations and air overpressure and investigation on its damage potential vis-a-viz housing structures’ and ‘hydro-geological study’.

The first interim report found the extent of damage potential on the housing structure based on field trials in the area. The report was based on the investigation carried out by the team. The details of blasting field trials, monitoring of the blasts induced ground vibration and status of the work done had been mentioned.

The second study was based on the survey of the area within a two-km radius from centre of Pur village, using a series of filed experiments.

The committee also developed a lithofacies map of the subsurface zone of the study area and aquifer characterisation at different depths. It also conducted chemical analysis of the water supply and the ground water samples and estimated the ground water flow regime. The investigations by the committee were on-going.

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