Court Digest: Major environment hearings of the week (September 23-27)

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: Monday 30 September 2019
Photo: Getty Images

Tourism's impact on environment

The National Green Tribunal (NGT), while hearing two pleas on preservation of Karnataka’s Chikkamagaluru district from the impact of tourism on September 25, 2019, directed the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) and Urban Development Ministry to study this impact in the entire country and come up with a nationwide policy.

The first demanded direction to conduct detailed carrying capacity study to assess the impact of factors such as construction of resorts, new civil structures, availability of water sources to sustain the projected tourist inflow on roads, power lines, soil erosion, diversion of streams, extraction of groundwater, waste generation and handling, road traffic and pollution and evolve a management plan for the district.

The applicant had also requested that new resorts and tourist infrastructure shouldn’t be allowed to come up in notified eco-sensitive zones and buffer zones.

The second application dealt with the indiscriminate opening of home stays in Chikmagalur without considering its eco-sensitive nature.

Flood in Ghaggar basin

The Supreme Court on September 23 directed Haryana and Punjab to provide information required by the Central Water and Power Research Station, Pune that would help in expediting the enquiry pertaining to the mitigation of the flood problem in the Ghaggar basin.

The inquiry was supposed to be completed and subsequent report filed by the first week of July 2019.

The apex court directed that the investigation should be completed by December 31, so that a report could be submitted immediately thereafter.

Waste dumping along Ramganga

The NGT on September 23 ordered that all electronic waste and black powder dumped unscientifically along the Ramganga river in Uttar Pradesh’s Moradabad district be processed according to law.

Unscientific dismantling of e-waste is in violation of the Hazardous and Other Waste (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016, the tribunal told the Central pollution Control Board (CPCB).

An action plan was prepared with two stages of execution — setting up of temporary storage and then permanent facility, according to a report submitted by the state’s chief secretary.

Temporary storage began and several steps were taken for permanent disposal in a treatment, storage and disposal facility in Amroha, read a status report. The entire process will be done in three months, it added.

Regional green assessment 

Regional Environmental Impact Assessment (REIA) cannot take the place of Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), ruled the NGT on September 25. The tribunal passed this order for two similar cases.

The first case was about green clearances given to 12 minor mineral-sand mining projects on the rivers Betwa and Ken without EIA. In the second case, an REIA was prepared for 13 mines over five rivers in Uttar Pradesh, over which sand mining projects exist. The clearance was granted despite there being no terms of reference and individual EIA’s for the projects.

The NGT quashed the clearance granted to all the mining leases as they failed to follow the directions under the EIA Notification, 2006, issued by the SC, the Sustainable Sand Mining Management Guidelines, 2016 and the various office memorandums issued by the MoEF&CC.

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