Court Digest: Major environment hearings of the week (September 21-25, 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: Saturday 26 September 2020

Coastal shrimp farms

In response to an application filed against illegal coastal shrimp farms in Surat, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) September 22, 2020 directed that a notice be issued to the following respondents:

  • Union Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change
  • State of Gujarat
  • Gujarat Coastal Zone Management Authority
  • Central Pollution Control Board
  • Gujarat Pollution Control Board
  • Collector, Surat
  • Hazira Freight Container Station
  • The respondents have been directed to reply within six weeks and the matter has been listed for January 7, 2021.

The application stated that there were commercial illegal coastal shrimp farms on the floodplains and within the coastal regulation zone areas along the Tapi and Mindhola river and in several villages.

Ramban municipal committee 

The NGT September 22 directed the municipal committee of Ramban to pay half of the compensation amount imposed on it by the Jammu and Kashmir Pollution Control Board within six months in two instalments. The court warned the municipality to maintain due vigil in maintaining environmental norms.

The Jammu and Kashmir Pollution Control Board, through its order July 8, had assessed the compensation — on the basis of the polluter pay principle against the municipal committee for not taking the necessary steps to prevent unscientific dumping of waste, resulting in damage to the environment.

The NGT ruled it was undisputed that damage to the environment had taken place in violation of constitutional duty of the local body to take preventive measures in the matter.

However, having regard to the plea of the coronavirus pandemic and financial constraints faced by the municipal committee, the court allowed the amount of compensation to be reduced to 50 per cent.

Wild ass sanctuary

The NGT September 23 directed that Gujarat must ensure that the Wild Ass Sanctuary in Little Rann of Kutch was free of encroachment. No grant of lease should be given in the said sanctuary area without consent of the standing committee of the National Board of Wildlife and from the Forest and Environment Department, Gujarat, Justice Sheo Kumar Singh said.

The tribunal said no activities must be permitted within the radius of 10 kilometers.

Katiya Haidarali Ahmadbhai alleged before the NGT that fishing was getting badly affected due to illegal encroachments.

He claimed that thousands of illegal salt industries were running within 10 kms radius of the sanctuary. Rivers flowing in the area were blocked due to construction of roads / ‘para’ in the sanctuary area and mangroves and sea plants destroyed.

Biodiversity conservation

Manipur had been making all necessary efforts to fully comply with the mandate of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 and the Rules framed under it, the Manipur Biodiversity Board said in its report to the NGT.

The Board had proposed to constitute 2,282 Biodiversity Management Committees (BMC) across the state at all levels. Of these, 1,908 BMCs had already been constituted. Only about 374 BMCs were yet to be constituted.

The delay in the completion of BMC constitution was mainly due to inaccessibility of the villages due to difficult terrain, refusal of villagers to constitute BMCs and the restrictions imposed in the state in connection with the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The mandatory preparation of People’s Biodiversity Registers (PBR) for each of the BMCs constituted would incur huge expenditure and the Manipur Biodiversity Board was not likely to receive funds from the government of Manipur and other sources, owing to acute financial constraints in the state.

The Manipur Biodiversity Board was now working with a new, modified target of preparing 199 PBRs.

Mumbai trans-harbour link

The Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link (MTHL) will not negatively impact flora and fauna, an affidavit filed by project proponent, Larsen and Toubro (L&T) Ltd September 19 about the status of the project and measures to mitigate its environmental impact, said.

L&T had taken all requisite and necessary steps to ensure that flora and fauna in and around the area where construction was being undertaken was not negatively impacted, the document added.

All requirements as mandated by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) and the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority were being satisfied, it said.

The MTHL was approved January 25, 2016, by the MoEF&CC under the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification 2011. The project and its approval were the subject matter of the appeal filed by Dileep B Nevatia.

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