Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (August 18, 2020)

Down To Earth brings you the top environmental cases heard in the Supreme Court, the high courts and the National Green Tribunal

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 18 August 2020

Environmental compensation for sand mining

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on August 17, 2020, directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to file a report on the methodology decided for fixing environmental compensation in the matter of illegal sand mining. The committee had been asked to undertake scenario analysis and file its report within one month.

The NGT order came in the wake of the CPCB report filed on January 30. The report considered two approaches for fixing environmental compensation.

  • Direct compensation based on the market value of extraction and adjusted for ecological damages
  • Computing a simplified net present value for ecological damages

The Amicus had submitted that the method for determining compensation suggested was complex and missed the present ecological value. Choice of discount rates had further complexity. Direct compensation approach method was preferable, but needed to be modified.

The NGT directed that the above suggestion should be looked into by the committee and thereafter the scale of compensation be finalised.

Dipka open cast coal mines

A brief summary of arguments was filed on behalf of Laxmi Chouhan before the NGT, explaining the reason for challenging the Environmental Clearance given for the expansion of Dipka Open Cast Coal Mines from 31 to 35 million tonnes per annum in Chhattisgarh.

The EC was granted by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) on February 20, 2018, to the South Eastern Coalfields Ltd for the expansion. It was said that the grant of environmental clearance by the MoEF&CC was illegal, improper and irregular.

 It was the duty of the Expert Appraisal Committee to undertake a detailed scrutiny of the environment impact assessment (EIA) report and other documents, including public hearing proceedings, before grant of EC.

The EAC permitted the expansion to take place without the mandatory public hearing. Even though the provision of the EIA Notification was mandatory, it was ignored by the EAC while allowing the expansion.

The project had undertaken mining in 409 hectares of forest land in violation of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, the report added.

Environment management plan for Puri

Special attention should be given to the preparation of the environment management plan for Puri, Odisha, and it should be completed expeditiously and, as far as it may be practicable, within one year. The committee entrusted with the task should ensure that all the steps indicated in the status report be completed without fail in terms of the timeline stated.

These were some of the directions passed by the bench of Justice Sonam Phintso Wangdi of the NGT in the original application filed by environmentalist Subhas Datta.

The case related to construction of sewage treatment plant, laying of sewage line and improvement of the cremation ground in Puri as well as removal of sheds and unauthorised and illegal structures raised in the coastal regulation zone area.

Petrol pump in residential area

An application on the setting up of a petrol pump in Dehradun in violation of siting guidelines was heard by the NGT on August 17. The district magistrate had allegedly ignored the guidelines and issued the no objection certificate.

The NGT directed the constitution of a joint committee, comprising the Uttarakhand Environment Protection & Pollution Control Board; district magistrate, Dehradun; and the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority, Uttarakhand. The committee has to furnish a factual and action taken report in the matter within two months.

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