Court Digest: Major environment hearings of the week (September 28-October 1, 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 04 October 2020

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) September 28, 2020 directed the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) to finalise the notification of ecologically sensitive areas (ESA) for the Western Ghats before December 31.

The Bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel, Sonam Phintso Wangdi and expert member Nagin Nanda said there was no justification for continued delay due to states seeking exclusion of the area from eco-sensitive zone. 

The NGT order came in the wake of continued delay in finalising the ecologically sensitive areas (ESA) notification, pending consideration for eight years. 

The court noted that there was demand for more and more exclusion by those who claim the need for ‘development’ while need for ‘environment protection’ does not allow acceptance of such demands.

Asbestos mines in Roro Hills

HIL Ltd, in a report to the NGT, said the compliance report of the Jharkhand department of mines and geology on the asbestos mines in Roro Hills, Chaibasa, West Singhbum was flawed.

The August 9 report allegedly proceeded on “incorrect and baseless assumption” that safety measures for restitution of asbestos mines to mitigate environmental and health impact were not taken by HIL.

The mines were closed in 1983, HIL surrendered them in 1984 and they were accepted by the then Bihar government in 1985, the HIL report said.

The company said it could not be termed a polluter for what happened after that.

CZMP for Goa

Goa has persistently failed to finalise a Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP), the NGT said September 28.

It was informed that the delay was due to the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM). To this, the NGT directed the NCSCM to expedite the matter. The secretary, MoEF&CC, was asked to monitor it and complete the process as far as possible by January 31, 2021.

Waste management facility

The NGT dismissed an appeal by the Bainguinim Citizens Forum against environmental clearance to a solid waste management facility at Bainguinim taluka, North Goa.

The Goa Waste Management Corp granted EC to the facility January 6 for establishment of 250 tonnes per day facility.

The appeal alleged the project site was violated siting criteria laid down under Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 — habitation was only 35 meters away from, against a mandated 200-500 meters.

Justices Goel and Wangdi September 24 said the facility was necessary, the site was duly selected, acquisition done and upheld and no fault could be found with the grant of the EC.

MRF in Usgao

The NGT September 24 said there was no information or material to show MRF Ltd was violating environmental norms in Tisk village, Goa.

An application sought construction to be halted and wetlands to be maintained according to the Wetlands Rules, 2017, by removing encroachments from the embankment of river Khandepar. The application also sought to demolish a check dam built by MRF near the river.

The state authorities informed the tribunal that there was no violation of the Wetlands Rules or the forest law. The project was not within the buffer zone of any water body and was zero liquid discharge project. It added that it did not contribute to any pollution.

The expansion of the project would also not affect the river or any other wetland, they said. The issue of protection of wetland was being independently dealt with and 10 wetlands around the project in question were likely to be notified as protected wetlands, including the Khandepur river, the NGT was informed.

The NGT dismissed the appeal and said there was no information or material to show any violation of the Wetlands Rules, damage to any water body or violation of environmental norms.

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