Down To Earth brings you the top environmental cases heard in the Supreme Court, the high courts and the National Green Tribunal
Khurja thermal power station
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, filed their report before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on the validity of environmental clearance granted to THDC India Ltd, to set up a thermal power station at Khurja in Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahar district.
The report was uploaded to the NGT site on August 4, 2020.
The points for consideration were the correctness of the ambient air quality data furnished by the project proponent and relied upon by the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Authority.
The report contained ambient air quality data (AAQ) at four locations around the proposed site. Another issue was the impact on the water procured from the Upper Ganga Canal, downstream.
The Committee said the higher concentration of PM 2.5 in winter 2020 (January 31- February 4, 2020) could have been due to enhanced local activities and weather conditions (low wind, low ambient temperature and domestic fuel burning, particularly during the morning hours).
“The wind direction at the site is from northwest to southeast and west to east. Khurja town, which is the nearest, lies northwest and upwind from the proposed project site. The National Capital Territory of Delhi is to also to the northwest and upwind from the proposed project site,” the report added.
The committee was of the opinion that AAQ levels were dynamic in nature and influenced by local climatic conditions. This, it said, should be considered while comparing EIA data of post-monsoon 2012 and summer 2016 for the proposed project site and the data collected by the committee.
The West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) filed an affidavit before the NGT about a factory owned by Saraf Silicates Pvt Ltd located at Nimakalali Road in Paschim Bardhaman district.
The factory was engaged in manufacturing sodium silicate, with a production capacity of about 300 metric tonnes per month. A complaint was lodged against the factory by a resident against the unit for causing environmental pollution in the area.
During inspection, the factory’s two coal-fired boilers were not in operation and dense black smoke was being emitted from this stack. “It appeared that the air pollution control devices (APCD) attached to the furnace were not being operated properly,” the report added.
Moreover, the unit was located in a densely populated, residential area. The unit does not possess the authorisation for hazardous waste.
The company was called for a hearing on July 26, 2019, for non-compliance of environmental norms as observed during the inspection by the WBPCB. The company’s partner appeared at the hearing and agreed with the above-mentioned observation. But he was unable to submit any satisfactory explanation to the non-compliance of environmental norms. Thus, the WBPCB issued directions for closure of the unit and disconnection of electricity supply.
Vrindavan legacy waste
The NGT on July 31 warned the state of Uttar Pradesh that failure to address unregulated dumping of solid waste in the flood plains of the Yamuna river and scientific clearing of the legacy waste site of Vrindavan would lead to imposition of compensation — for damage to the environment and public health.
The Monitoring Committee / Oversight Committee (OC) headed by Justice SK Singh filed its report on July 23. The NGT noted that the steps taken so far to address the situation were not adequate.
The OC had found that arrangement for leachate collection had not been made. The leachate drain was found choked and its processing capacity was just enough to cater to the day-to-day processing and was unable to tackle the legacy waste.
The OC recommended that bio waste remediation should start, failing which, compensation should be liable to be paid. Decentralised waste management plants, organic waste-to-compost plants, material recovery plants and use of bio-degradable cutlery should be accepted and followed by the state authorities.
The Urban Development Department in its report of July 30, 2020, informed the NGT that action was taken against a sanitary inspector and an executive officer. Action was also taken against the chairman of the urban local body.
The NGT was of the opinion that such action was hardly enough. The NGT asked the OC to monitor the compliance of directions for scientific waste management and furnish a status report by December 31, 2020.
STPs at Chikhali
A report was filed by the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), Pimpri before the NGT explaining the importance of constructing three Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) at Chikhali (12 million litres per day), Bopkhel (5 MLD) and Pimple Nilakh (15 MLD) at the earliest.
The report mentioned the three proposed STP locations within the PCMC-Pune area and requested permission for commencement of their construction within the PCMC area.
Three rivers flow through / along the boundary of PCMC — Mula, Indrayani and Pawana. Nullahs in Chikhali and other adjoining areas were directly getting mixed into the Indrayani river. Some part of untreated water flows down to Alandi, along the banks of the Indrayani river.
The report said that it was extremely essential to construct the STP at Chikhali, which would treat the untreated water and prevent it from getting mixed into the Indrayani river.
The PCMC, in its report, said that the construction of the STP at Chikhali was ‘legal and proper’ and there was no violation of any rules. The construction of the STP would not hamper or obstruct the natural flow of the river as the planning was done considering the high flood level of the river. The construction of the STP would also not change the cross section of the river.
The report was uploaded to the NGT site on August 4.
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