Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (August 7, 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: Friday 07 August 2020

Paddy straw-fired power plant in Bhatinda 

The Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) filed its report before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) regarding a project to convert coal-fired thermal plant at Bathinda to paddy straw-fired power plant. 

Darshan Singh, a retired engineer of Punjab State Power Corp Ltd (PSPCL), had filed an application before the NGT. The court had converted the said application of into OA No 1039 of 2019 titled Darshan Singh vs State of Punjab & Others and passed an order on January 27, 2020, directing the PPCB, PSPCL and the Punjab Energy Development Agency to furnish their response.

The committee put out the following facts:

  • The cost of conversion of existing coal-fired thermal plant to paddy straw-fired power plant was lesser as compared to establishing new biomass plants. This would also decrease the cost of power generation and lessen the burden on consumers.
  • Experts submitted a report to PSPCL to run this plant on paddy straw exclusively.

PSPCL in its meeting had approved the proposal of conversion of one of its 120 megawatt coal-fired unit into 60 MW coal-fired unit in a meeting on November 21, 2018.

The proposal was put up to the state government for approval in November 2018, and is pending with the state government.

The report said PSPCL should comment on the technical as well as economic viability of the proposal submitted to the state government.

The PPCB said that following points should be looked into while implementing the proposal:

  • The state would have to setup exhaustive mechanism / facilities for time-bound collection, storage and transportation of stubble generated during the paddy harvesting season, so as to ensure availability of fuel for the thermal power plant throughout the year.
  • PSPL should obtain all statutory clearances and approvals as applicable under the existing pollution control laws. 

The report was uploaded to the NGT site on August 7, 2020.

Groundwater pollution in western UP

The oversight committee under the chairmanship of SVS Rathore filed its report before the NGT on discharge of industrial effluent in rivers affecting the surface water (Kali Nadi, Krishna and Hindon rivers) and groundwater in western Uttar Pradesh.

The reports talked about the health implications of water pollution on its inhabitants.

The committee constituted by the tribunal in its report of February 11, 2019, said the discharge of untreated sewage and industrial effluents in Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Meerut, Baghpat, Ghaziabad and Gautam Budh Nagar districts was mainly responsible for the water pollution.

Hand pumps from which contaminated water was extracted and consumed were still functional. No measures were found to be undertaken by the authorities for supply of potable water in the affected areas and to identify or provide compensation to the victims of water-related diseases.

Despite repeated directions by the NGT and the committee, the Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam did not ensure piped water supply in 148 affected villages. Till date, piped water supply had been ensured only in 45 villages. Till July 2019, 41 villages had the facility.  

There has been no physical progress in installation of any three sewage treatment plants (STPs) proposed in the last one year, the report said. No action has been taken against any negligent officer despite directions of the court.

Performance guarantee of Rs 5 crore directed by NGT on March 15, 2019 has yet to be deposited. Not a single village has been provided water through tankers despite written assurance to NGT by chief secretary on October 20, 2019.

In fact, the ACS, Panchayati Raj had informed the committee that in view of hand-pumps working in these villages, there was no need of water supply through tankers. Such gross negligence in fulfilling the basic needs of the citizens is not acceptable and punishable, the committee report said.

Manufacture of formaldehyde

The State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), Haryana, asked the Haryana State Pollution Control Board to stop immediate manufacturing activity of formaldehyde — a hazardous chemical — by Om Chem at village Kurali, Sabapur road, in Yamunanagar.

It was alleged that the unit had not obtained environment clearance. This was mentioned in the SEIAA report to the NGT.

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