Court Digest: Major environment hearings of the week (October 21-25)

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 26 October 2019
Photo: Getty Images

Polluted waterbodies in Bengaluru

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on October 21,2019, expressed its unhappiness at the reports furnished by the Karnataka government on polluted waterbodies in Bengaluru.

The waterbodies — Bellandur lake, Agara lake and Varthur lake — were being polluted due to discharge of untreated sewage and other effluents from residential/commercial/industrial buildings. The issue was being monitored by the NGT in the last five years by way of different orders.

The court noted:

  • The report furnished lacked information on the status of sewage treatment plants to be constructed
  • It showed that Bellandur lake area has yet not been fenced to prevent encroachments
  • The illegal colony in the lake belt has not been shifted and CCTV cameras and watch towers have not been installed
  • De-silting and de-weeding have not been done as directed
  • Road was illegally constructed within the lake by dumping construction and demolition debris, which has not been removed.
  • Non-compliance regarding deposit of Rs 25 crores by Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and furnishing of performance guarantee in the sum of Rs 100 crores by Karnataka government for which there is no explanation

The NGT directed that these deficiencies have to be rectified and compliance ensured in terms of its order of December 6, 2018.

It also directed the additional chief secretary (Urban Development), Karnataka along with the commissioner of BBMP and other concerned authorities to remain present before the tribunal on the next date of hearing.

Kali Nadi, Krishni and Hindon river pollution

The NGT, on October 21, directed the Uttar Pradesh government to continue with the necessary steps in the matter of pollution in Kali Nadi, Krishni and Hindon rivers, which was causing diseases and deaths of inhabitants of the area.

The court ordered that the measures should be overseen by a committee and the process of tender, detailed project reports (DPR) and other procedures reduced by using the Government e-Marketplace (GeM) portal.  

The tribunal had, in its order of August 8, 2018 after going through various studies, said that there was contamination of groundwater and “more than 71 persons died from cancer and more than 47 persons are bedridden in the Gagnoli village in Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat district.”

Industries like sugar mills, distilleries, paper mills, electroplating, slaughterhouses, wet blue hides and others were polluting the water in these rivers. A monitoring committee constituted by the tribunal was informed that 124 industries were not meeting the standards.

The court, on September 20, 2019, noted water supply was made available in 41 of 148 villages, but approval of DPR was pending for several projects.

Further, the tribunal found that the information with regard to the health surveys and water supply to all the affected areas was not adequate and the estimated date for completion of the actions for treatment of sewage gap in the river was too long.

Accordingly, the NGT directed the chief secretary of Uttar Pradesh to look into the matter, take action against erring officers and ensure remedial action in terms of augmenting water supply to the affected villages.

It also asked the chief secretary to examine the possibility of sending a high powered committee to the area for expediting approvals.

A report, submitted by the chief secretary on October 20, 2019, stated that requisite steps have been taken on the subject of water supply to the affected areas and till then drinking water would be supplied through tankers. Persons affected health wise would be treated in “higher referral specialised hospitals”.  

Further, compensation of Rs 2.75 crores has been recovered and till the defaulting units pay the assessed compensation, their consent to operate would not be renewed.

In its order on October 21, the court ruled that the use of land covered by the legacy waste has to be explored for sewage treatment plants/waste processing plants/ green belts/ bio-diversity parks, “if the use is otherwise permissible under the relevant environmental law.”

Fly ash disposal in Jhajjar

The NGT on October 24 heard the matter of accumulated fly ash at the units of NTPC Aravali Power Co and Jhajjar Power Ltd (CLP India) in Jhajjar district of Haryana.

It was causing air pollution resulting in diseases to the residents, according to a complaint. The complainant also alleged that he was suffering from tuberculosis due to the pollution, as stated in his medical report from the Civil Hospital in Jhajjar.

The issue was earlier reviewed by the tribunal on July 1, wherein, the tribunal had asked NTPC, Jhajjar Power, chief medical officer of Jhajjar district and the Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) to submit a report.

The report also mentioned action plan for disposal of such fly ash.

The NGT directed the HSPCB to ensure that the thermal plant revises the plan and a performance guarantee of Rs 50 lakhs is taken from the unit.

Plastic use by Amazon and Flipkart

The NGT on October 22 directed the Central Pollution Control Board to submit a status report on the complaint of excessive use of plastic packaging materials by e-commerce platforms Amazon.in and Flipkart.com.

It was in violation of ‘Extended Producer Responsibility’ Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, according to the complainant.

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