Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (February 14, 2024)

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: Thursday 15 February 2024

NGT fines NHAI Rs 45 crore for violation of environmental norms

The bench of justices Prakash Shrivastava and Sudhir Agarwal of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed the National Highways Authority of India to pay environmental compensation of Rs 45 crore for violating environmental norms. The violations occurred within a stretch of about 3.5 kilometres in villages Paroli, Hajipur and Kiranj in Haryana.

NHAI has been directed to pay the amount within three months by depositing it with Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB).

In case NHAI does not pay the amount, then the authority should take steps to restore the damaged pond, grazing land, nallahs to their original form, shape, size and composition by taking such steps as are required and permitted in law.  Appropriate steps for execution should be taken by the chief secretary, Haryana.

If environmental compensation is deposited by NHAI, the same shall be appropriated for restoration / rejuvenation of the environment. The plan for restoration / rejuvenation shall be prepared by a Joint Committee. The plan shall be prepared within three months, after deposit of environmental compensation and amount of environmental compensation shall be utilized within six months thereafter.

The NGT directed that compliance reports of above directions should be submitted by the Chief Secretary, Haryana and Member Secretary, Haryana State Pollution Control Board to the NGT by November 15, 2024.

Brick kilns in Uttar Pradesh

On the operation of illegal brick kilns, the counsel for the state of Uttar Pradesh sought four weeks from NGT to place on record the status of the brick kilns against whom closure orders were issued and number of brick kilns which have been closed down in pursuance to those closure orders.

The next hearing of the case will be on April 22, 2024.

The information disclosed in the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) report February 9, 2024 showed the position as on December 31, 2023. The report reflected that out of 19,718 brick kilns established in Uttar Pradesh, 12,728 have valid consent to operate (CTO) and 6,990 have not obtained valid CTO under the Air Act, 1981. Further, closure orders in respect of 6990 defaulter brick kilns have been issued under the Air Act, 1981.

The report mentioned that the closure orders against the defaulter brick kilns have been issued with a direction to the respective district magistrates and district heads of police for implementation of the closure orders. 

However, the report did not disclose the final action in terms of the closure orders and number of brick kilns which have actually been closed down in pursuance of closure orders, the court pointed out.

Presence of fluoride in groundwater samples of Delhi: DJB

Fluoride has been found beyond the permissible limits in water samples from tubewells in some locations of Delhi, stated a report by the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) filed on behalf of Government of NCT of Delhi, February 14.

The Delhi Jal Board has issued directions to the maintenance divisions of DJB to either stop supply from such tubewells or utilise the water for purposes other than drinking.

The report also requested grant of time for carrying out the testing / checking of the contents of arsenic in the samples collected from different tubewells existing in various areas of Delhi.

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