Court Digest: Major environment hearings of the week (September 14-18, 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: Monday 21 September 2020

CETPs and STPs in India

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) filed its report on the status of common effluent treatment plants (CETP) and sewage treatment plants (STP) in India before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on September 16, 2020.

The NGT had directed all the states / union territories (UT) to ensure formulation and execution of plans for sewage treatment and utilisation of treated sewage effluent with respect to each city, town and village. The STPs must meet the prescribed standards including faecal coliform, it added.

The CPCB September 16, 2020 report contained state-wise compliance status of all industries generating trade effluent and requiring effluent treatment plants (ETP) — as reported by the state pollution control board (SPCB) / pollution control committee (PCC).

According to the data received from SPCBs / PCCs:

  • Out of total 64,484 industries requiring ETPs, 62,653 are operating with functional ETPs and 1,831 industries without ETPs
  • At least 61,530 industries are complying with environmental standards and 1,123 industries are non-complying
  • There are total 191 CETPs, out of which 129 are complying with environmental standards and 62 are non-complying
  • There are total 15,730 STPs (including municipal and non-municipal / stand-alone STPs), out of which 15,200 STPs are complying with environmental standards and 530 STPs are non-complying
  • There are 84 CETPs in construction / proposal stage, whereas, for STPs, 1,081 projects (municipal and non-municipal) are under construction / proposal stage

The report also contained assessment of impact of lockdown on water quality of major rivers.

During the pre-lockdown period (March 2020), SPCBs had collected samples from 388 locations, whereas 366 number of samples from the monitoring locations during lockdown (April 2020) from 19 major rivers and collected samples were analysed for Primary Water Quality Criteria for Bathing Water Quality Criteria notified under the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986.

Platinum AAC Blocks

The NGT September 14 directed the order passed by the Pollution Control Committee (PCC) of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu ordering the closure of Platinum AAC Blocks Pvt Ltd to be set aside.

A copy of the NGT order should be forwarded to the advisor to the Union Territory of Daman Diu and Dadra Nagar Haveli to consider taking remedial action against the erring PCC officer for passing such an ‘absurd order’, the bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Sonam Phintso Wangdi directed.

The PCC order overreached the orders of the NGT and was against the interests of the environment, the bench added.

The NGT order came in the wake of an appeal filed by Platinum AAC Blocks Pvt Ltd against the order passed by the PCC on February 3.

According to a notification dated October 9, 2015, and applicable to Dadra and Nagar Haveli, the export, transport and disposal facilities for fly ash were banned. Therefore, manufacturing of autoclaved aerated concrete using fly ash could not allowed, the PCC order had said. 

The unit was transporting fly ash and manufacturing fly ash bricks using fuel.

Fly ash export, transport and disposal facilities as well as fly ash bricks manufacturing using fuel, both fell under the Green Category of industries, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had said in its report to the NGT July 16.

The PCC was also yet to harmonise the categorisation of industries in compliance with modified directions issued by the CPCB vide a letter sent March 7, 2016, under Section 18(1)(b).

Thus, any consideration about admissibility of the consent to the unit had to be viewed based on harmonisation of industries by PCC. The violations with respect to consent to establish and consent to operate by the unit had to be dealt by PCC in accordance with provisions of relevant Acts and Rules.

Mental Healthcare Act, 2017

The Supreme Court (SC) September 14 directed that a notice be issued to the Attorney General for India to justify the validity of Section 115 of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017, which virtually negates Section 309 Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The ruling came in the wake of an application filed before the apex court seeking directions to ensure prevention of suicide attempts by persons by throwing themselves inside animal enclosures in zoos.

It is to commit suicide under Section 309 of the IPC.

Tarapur Industrial Area

The second joint inspection-cum-monitoring report of the CETP of Tarapur Industrial Area in Maharashtra was made available to the public on September 16.

The report by the CPCB and the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) was in compliance to the NGT orders dated September 26 and October 22, 2019. 

The NGT had directed that the CPCB and MPCB jointly undertake extensive surveillance and monitoring of the CEPT at regular intervals of three months and submit their report.

The analysis results of various effluent samples of the CETP collected during the joint inspection-cum-monitoring on March 12, 2020, revealed that no improvement had been made by the CETP operator to upgrade or improve its performance since the previous joint inspection conducted on November 13, 2019. 

Some of the violations listed in the report include:

  • Continued non-compliance of CETP inlet effluent quality with the design norms and prescribed limits
  • Continued non-compliance of CETP outlet effluent quality with the prescribed limits
  • Continued exceedance of hydraulic load of CETP to the prescribed limit and illegal discharges
  • Poor CETP sludge management and inconsistency in CETP sludge generation
  • Continued improper operation of all major treatment units of CETP and sludge depositions
  • Continued improper CETP inlet and outlet flow meter measurement and non-operational online continuous monitoring system

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