Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (August 3, 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 03 August 2020

Environment clearance

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on July 31, 2020 directed the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) to take effective steps and discharge its constitutional obligation of advancing precautionary and sustainable development principles and also the public trust doctrine.

The matter for consideration was the steps to be taken for an effective monitoring mechanism for compliance of conditions of Environmental Clearance according to the notification dated September 14, 2006, under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

“Repeated pleas of merely having proposals, without effective enforcement on the ground can hardly be held to be satisfactory,” the court said.

Bellandur and Varthur 

An affidavit was filed by the departments of urban development and minor irrigation of the Karnataka government and the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) before the NGT, which mentioned measures to remove encroachments and desilt the Bellandur and Varthur lakes.

The report was in compliance to the tribunal order of December 18, 2019. The court had ordered for the:

  • Eviction of slum dwellers who had encroached upon Bellandur lake
  • Fencing Bellandur lake
  • Tender for de-silting of Bellandur and Varthur lake 
  • Development of wetland and biodiversity parks

The report informed the tribunal that the works had been executed by various departments of the state government and were at various stages of execution.

Some 128 out of 228 slum dwellers had been evicted by the Karnataka Slum Development Board and allotted flats constructed by it. The remaining 100 slum dwellers would be evicted after the “vacation of interim relief” granted by the Karnataka High Court.

Likewise, BDA had completed fencing of Bellandur lake, except the 464 acres of land that lie in the defence area.

Desilting of the two lakes had started from March 23, 2020. However, the scope of desilting work depended on the analysis of soil samples, the report said.

These samples were in the process of being tested by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) and only then, the resultant protocol would be decided upon for disposal of the excavated sludge / silt.

The BDA has submitted a proposal on the development of wetlands and biodiversity parks to the NGT Monitoring Committee.

The deputy commissioner, Bangalore Urban had identified a quarry at Vitsandra and Mylasandra villages in Bangalore South, which was 25 kilometres away from the lake area.

The quarry had been handed over to BDA for depositing the silt and sludge. “The treatment of the quarry for depositing the sludge will be taken up after finalising the protocol by KSPCB and Central Pollution Control Board,” the report said. 

Bijnor sugar mills

There was no permanent wall made by Dhampur Sugar Mills Pvt Ltd in Bijnor to prevent dust from blolwing towards the Priyanka Modern Senior Secondary School premises. There were also no sprinklers to prevent dust emission. This was causing the health of the students to be affected.

This was stated in the rejoinder affidavit filed by the school before the NGT in response to the inspection report by the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB).

No green belt was maintained by the factory to prevent pollution and no safety measures had been taken up by it in case of a mishap with the boiler of the distillery unit, the affidavit added.

The school building was only 100 metres away from the distillery unit and the 84-metre tall chimney of the boiler was only 135 metres away from the institute, according to the UPPCB report.

In the event of any unfortunate incident, the students studying in the school would bear the brunt, the affidavit said. The students of the school as well as residents of the area had been adversely affected by the pollution caused by the unit, according to the health check-up organised by the chief medical officer, Bijnor.

The affidavit requested that the NGT direct the UPPCB to take strict action against Dhampur Sugar Mill Pvt Ltd and direct it to shift its boiler unit to some other place in the premises.

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