Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (August 24, 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: Monday 24 August 2020

Platinum AAC Blocks

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) August 21, 2020 refused to accept the argument of the Pollution Control Committee (PCC) for Dadra and Nagar Haveli for shutting operations, involving disposal of fly ash, of Platinum AAC Blocks Pvt Ltd. This was on the ground that its activities came under the ‘red category’. The company, however, said its activities did not come under this category.

The NGT sought a report from a joint Committee of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the PCC.

The committee, after examining the activities of the unit, said its activities were under the ‘green category’. The tribunal — accepting the report — disposed of the appeal January 17. The PCC, however, said pollution was caused during the activities of the unit in disposal of fly ash and therefore, the view taken by the tribunal needed to be recalled.

The NGT refused to accept the PCC’s argument and said there was no bar in giving appropriate directions in the matter according to the law, instead of closing the unit by wrongly terming it a ‘red unit’. The court said there was no ground in recalling its January 17 order and disposed of the application August 21. 

Air pollution control

Remedial action for containing air pollution in 122 non-attainment cities (NAC) of India was taken up by a two-member bench of the NGT comprising Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and SP Wangdi August 21.

The NGT looked at CPCB reports dated March 6, July 21 and August 18 and the response filed by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. It declined to reduce time for abating air pollution under the National Clean Air Programme and passed a series of directions:

  • Since 173 of 398 online stations required in the NACs were already set up, the work of completing the remaining 175 stations needed to be completed expeditiously within the next six months
  • States and Union territories (UT) were asked to take steps prohibiting and shifting polluting activities that were unsustainable, non-conforming and beyond the carrying capacity of NACs
  • Carrying capacity and source apportionment studies must be undertaken simultaneously by State Pollution Control Boards (SPCB) and PCCs
  • All concerned states / UTs must execute action plans, including control of stubble burning and bursting of polluting and noise generating firecrackers and give information about the status of compliance of action plans as on December 31, 2020 to the CPCB before January 15, 2021
  • The states must utilise Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority funds, undertake special afforestation drives in forest lands or other permissible locations in 122 NACs
  • This must be done according to the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act, 2016 to abate pollution in the said cities

Dyeing industries in Faridabad

The NGT August 21 directed the Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) to recover assessed compensation from polluting dyeing industries in Faridabad in response to an application that sought enforcement of a September 29, 2016 NGT order in the matter of Varun Sheokand v State of Haryana and Others.

The polluting units must not be allowed to operate without the compliance of norms and payment of compensation. Further vigilance must be maintained and status of compliance as on November 30 should be placed on record by the joint committee before January 15, 2021, the NGT order said.

The order required polluting dyeing industries in Faridabad to follow environmental norms. The NGT sought a factual and action taken report in the matter from the CPCB, Faridabad’s district magistrate and the HSPCB through its January 8 order.

An August 17 report filed by the HSPCB told the tribunal of violations found during inspection and necessary action taken by way of closure, assessment and recovery of environmental compensation and initiating prosecution.

The tribunal said except for initiating some action on directions of the court, violation of environmental norms remained unchecked. The HSPCB did not perform its statutory obligation of acting against violation of environmental laws.

The court said it was imperative the HSPCB was suitably revamped by setting up necessary vigilance squads and shorten the procedure of taking action.

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