Down To Earth brings you the top environmental cases heard in the Supreme Court, the high courts and the National Green Tribunal
The Delhi Jal Board (DJB), in its report to the National Green Tribunal (NGT), said it would take five months for supply, installation, testing and commissioning (SITC) of the two biological odour control units (OCU) in the proposed locations of the sewage treatment plant (STP) at Kondli. This would include completing connections with the existing plant, online monitoring system and all allied works.
The issue for consideration before the NGT was about the remedial steps taken against the bad odour from the STP in Kondli.
The NGT, in its order of September 27, 2019, had directed the DJB to take appropriate action in the light of the report of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC).
The DPCC report informed the court that the 25 million gallons per day (MGD) STP and 45 MGD STP were not meeting the prescribed standards. The DJB was asked to provide an effective odour control mechanism and rectify the deficiencies for proper operation and maintenance of STPs at Kondli.
A progress report was filed by the DJB on January 15, 2020, mentioning the steps taken. In response to the DJB report, the NGT on August 26 directed the DJB to expeditiously complete the work required and file an action-taken report before January 5, 2021.
The Secretary, Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuventation, has invited a plan of action and action-taken reports from all states and union territories (UT) for improving water conservation and water use efficiency.
The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has empowered the states / UTs, including the statutory bodies and district adminisration to take necessary measures under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 for the purposes envisaged under these laws. This was stated in the report filed by the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti before the NGT.
In order to control wastage or misuse of ground water, a draft public notice containing directions under Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 had been formulated. If the same is approved by the NGT, the public notice could be issued under Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, the report added.
The report was in response to the NGT order of October 15, 2019, to the Jal Shakti ministry and DJB to file a report on steps to prevent wastage and misuse of groundwater on account of overflow from overhead tanks in residential and commercial areas.
Valsad chemical factory fire
The chemical plant — Shakti Bio Science Ltd — located in GIDC, Vapi, Valsad district of Gujarat, had restarted its manufacturing activities somewhere in the year 2020, after stopping its activities in 2013. This, however, was not intimated to the department of Industrial Safety & Health, which they were supposed to do.
This was stated in a three-page report filed by the director, Industrial Safety & Health, Ahmedabad before the NGT on the massive fire at the chemical factory in Valsad on August 8, 2020.
According to the information gathered, Shakti Bio Science Ltd had stopped its manufacturing activity in 2013. At the time of stoppage, they had completed the fifth stage of manufacturing of Meta Phenoxy Benzaldehyde (MPBD) products and stored it in approximately 150 high-density polyethylene (HDPE) drums of 200 litres.
The factory restarted operation before August 8, 2020 to recover fifth stage crude MPBD and get distilled MPBD (finished product).
On August 8, the unit started operations to recover MPBD with four reactors. At around 11:30 AM, during the manufacturing process, fire was observed in the thermocol plastic / rubber / paper waste, that eventually spread to the whole building of the pharma division.
The probable cause of the incident seemed to be a short circuit in an electric panel or cable in the pharma plant, followed by fire in the common storage area used for recovered solvents, in process materials and then in the API plant. The actual cause would be known after the report of the FSL, electrical inspector and other concerned agencies was issued.
A prohibitory order was issued to the factory under Section 40 (2) of The Factories Act, 1948, on August 10 to stop manufacturing activities for the compliance of various safety provisions.
Shakti Bio Science
Shakti Bio Science Ltd has appealed to the NGT to revoke the closure notice issued by the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) for the fire at its chemical factory in Vapi, Valsad, as the unit had complied with all directions.
The plant was functioning with 75 employees, both workers and staff and the resumption of the same was in the best interests of the community and staff. This plant was into manufacturing of pharmaceutical and intermediate and speciality chemicals.
The factory, in its report, said the company had all the permissions and certificates to run the plant.
The occurrence of fire at the plant was due to a short circuit and there was no negligence or lapses on part of the company in maintaining standards of procedure in the functioning of the plant. The occurrence of the fire on August 8, 2020, was immediately extinguished within a span of two to three hours, with the help of company staff and the fire department.
Due to the immediate action, there was no loss of life or any nuisance to the neighbouring plants / environment, according to the report.
The company had already deposited a sum of Rs 25 lakh towards the penalty imposed by the GPCB.
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