Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (August 5, 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: Wednesday 05 August 2020

Environment monitoring 

The Himachal Pradesh State Pollution Control Board had not issued any no objection certificate for hotels and guest houses in McLeodganj and Manali after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order of July 29, 2019.

This was stated in the report filed before the NGT on August 4, 2020, by the Joint Secretary, Urban Development on behalf of the state of Himachal Pradesh.

The Divisional Town & Country Planning Office, Kullu, after ground verification, had reported that construction activities in the Manali Municipal Council (MC) area were permitted, strictly in accordance with law. No new cases of commercial land use were being allowed and permitted in the Manali MC area.

Construction activities would not be permitted until adequate provisions for solid waste management and water supply were put in place. Likewise, the Commissioner, Dharamshala Municipal Corporation, had reported that there had been a complete ban on construction activities in McLeodganj.

However, the approval to complete 18 commercial units had been issued by the Dharamshala Municipal Corporation after adherence to adequate provisions for solid waste management and water supply of such units.

The water quality in the Beas river near Manali was categorised under Class-B, according to the latest results for May 2020. The latest results of air monitoring in Manali for May 2020, was found to be meeting the levels permitted for SO2, NOX, NH3, RSPM and PM2.5.

The installation of a waste-to-energy plant at Manali was under process. There is one common sewage treatment plant (STP) for handling sewage within the Manali area. The latest samples from the STP were found to be within limits.

Hundred per cent door-to-door garbage collection was being done in the Dharamshala Municipal Corporation. Fifty per cent of the waste generated in the corporation area was segregated at source and the rest was being segregated at the waste processing facility, according to the report.

Mahanoy river

Justice SP Wangdi of the NGT, on July 31, reprimanded the government of Bihar for its ‘defiant and unacceptable’ approach in dealing with illegal constructions on the banks of the Mahanoy river in Munger district.

The Mahanoy River Safety Society had filed an application before the court that construction work had converted the river into a cesspool, due to the discharge of untreated water.

A report was asked for from the Bihar Pollution Control Board and the district magistrate of Munger after having the area in question inspected and verifying the facts.

The NGT, in its order of February 18, 2019, had said the primary issue to be determined in the case was whether the building of the block development office in Tetiya Bambar had been constructed within the impermissible limits of the river. Also, were there any rules framed by the state, prescribing criteria for constructions on river banks?

As on August 26, 2019, the state government had failed to place any such rules before the court. However, the NGT had indicated that Bihar Building By-Laws, 2014, did exist and under Rule 22 (2) thereof, there were certain criteria laid down. 

According to the Rule, the constructions fell within the prohibited area of 100 metres, the court noted.

Time was again sought by the state and the case was listed a number of times and got adjourned. The NGT on July 31 granted a final opportunity to the state to file a report before September 15, 2020.

Groundwater extraction

The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), in its report to the NGT, said environmental compensation of Rs 5 lakh had been collected from Babudin Khan for illegal extraction of groundwater in Sangam Vihar.

The report was in response to a complaint that Khan was supplying groundwater through tankers.

The NGT, vide order of August 22, 2019, had directed the DPCC and the Delhi Jal Board to furnish a factual and action taken report in the matter.

The DPCC, on November 5, 2019, filed a report which stated that a borewell had been found on Khan’s premises but was non-operational and it was informed to them that the water was not used for any commercial purpose.

On November 7, 2019, the DPCC informed the court that adequate remedial action had been taken on the matter.

However, the complainant said illegal extraction of groundwater was still taking place. On December 26, 2019, the borewell was sealed to ensure that no extraction of ground water for any purpose took place. 

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