Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (August 20, 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: Thursday 20 August 2020

Railway stations should be environmentally compliant: NGT

State pollution control boards (SPCB) / pollution control committees (PCC) must ensure the Indian Railways comply with environmental norms, including waste management, said a National Green Tribunal (NGT) bench August 18, 2020.

Zonal / divisional railway authorities must submit a declaration on the matter to the concerned SPCBs / PCC, said the bench comprising of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Sonam Phintso Wangdi.

The NGT order came after the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) submitted its report July 13, informing the NGT that its teams and those of the concerned SPCBs / PCCs conducted performance assessments of 36 railway stations.

These assessments were conducted keeping the requirements of the Water Act, 1974, the Air Act, 1981 and the Environment Protection (EP) Act, 1986.

An expert committee of the CPCB categorised the railway stations into red, orange and green categories. The report gave an overview of the ‘Environmental Performance Assessment of Railway Stations’.

The NGT accepted the CPCB’s recommendations and directed the railways to take further action in terms of the report.

Only 11 railway stations applied for consent in terms of the water and air acts, while three applied for authorisation under the statutory rules of the EP Act, according to the report.

The remaining major railway stations (out of total 720) must apply for requisite consents / authorisations within three months from today, the NGT said. Charges for doing so will be payable only from April 1 and arrears will not be paid, said the NGT.

Illegal groundwater extraction by industries in Khurja

There was illegal extraction of groundwater by industries without the permission of the Central Ground Water Authority at Khurja in Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr district.

This was stated by the NGT in an August 18 order in the matter of Shailesh Singh v State of Uttar Pradesh.

Authorities should take action and recover compensation following the due process of the law. The authorities must maintain vigilance against the illegal operation of units found to be non-functional during inspection.

Such units must not be allowed to operate till they were environmentally compliant and until the units paid compensation for their illegal operation in the past.

The Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board must initiate a drive to ascertain the sources of such pollution and take remedial action in view of high level of pollution found in the water samples of the drains, the court said.

Another report must be furnished by a joint committee — after a visit to the site with a status of up to December 31 — before January 18, 2021, the NGT said.

The order was over a case filed against the alleged illegal operation of slaughter houses in Khurja. The slaughter houses reportedly discharged effluents into the groundwater, drains, rivers, extracted groundwater without authorisation and violated siting norms.

A joint committee report was filed on June 10 to the effect that only three of the 15 slaughter houses and meat processing units at Mundakhera Road in Khurja were operational, while the remaining 12 were not operational.

A huge quantity of municipal solid waste was found dumped on the bank of the Mundakhera drain at different locations, said the report.

Green belt encroachment

An allegation of tree cutting for the construction of a school in Delhi’s Janakpuri area prompted the NGT to direct the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and the conservator of forests, west forest division to submit a report.

It was stated that The site of the school was part of a green belt that was illegally transferred by the DDA to the Guru Vivekanand Shiksha Sansthan trust for a school.

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