Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (February 21, 2024)

Down To Earth brings you the top environmental cases heard in Supreme Court, high courts and National Green Tribunal  

By DTE Staff
Published: Wednesday 21 February 2024

Hooghly river in Howrah in jeopardy: Six-member committee constituted

The National Green Tribunal (Eastern Zone Bench, Kolkata) heard the application filed by Subhas Datta regarding the dangers faced by River Hooghly in Howrah, West Bengal.

The allegation of the applicant was that at the Shibpur side of Howrah at Topiwala Ghat, laundry waste of clothes and linen of the Railways is being discharged into the Hooghly and fumes were reported to be coming out from the outlet point of such laundry. 

The reputed and historic ghats of the city, namely, Rani Rashmoni Ghat, Mullick Ghat, Bagbazar Ghat, Shovabazar Ghat, Kashimitra Ghat and Nimtala Ghat were also littered with garbage, the applicant alleged. Moreover, waste collected from workshops of goldsmiths and contaminated water containing acid is being discharged into the river from several small-scale industries at Shibpur Bichali Ghat into the River Ganga on the Howrah side.

It was also alleged that huge concrete pillars have been erected in the Ganga at the second Hooghly Bridge towards the Shibpur side, obstructing the smooth flow of the river.

NGT said February 20, 2024 the matter required consideration and directed notices to be issued to the National Mission for Clean Ganga, the Central Pollution Control Board, West Bengal Pollution Control Board, Howrah Municipal Corporation and District Magistrate, Howrah.

NGT also directed the constitution of a six member committee comprising, among others, senior scientists from West Bengal Pollution Control Board, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and National Mission for Clean Ganga Authority. The committee shall visit the site in question and, after inspection, submit a report within two months.

CPCB report on storage, disposal of carbon slurry by fertiliser industries

CPCB had issued directions to all state pollution boards and pollution control committees for verifying the factual position regarding storage and disposal of carbon slurry by nitrogenous and complex fertiliser-producing industries or any other industry in their jurisdiction.

CPCB has received replies on the matter from the state pollution control boards / pollution control committees of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Daman & Diu and Nagaland, according to the status note filed by CPCB before NGT February 21, 2024.

The CPCB report was in compliance with an NGT Principal Bench order dated January 8, 2024. NGT directed CPCB to obtain the requisite information from Hindustan Urvarak and Rasayan Ltd, Jharkhand regarding generation and disposal of carbon slurry and also to verify the factual position regarding storage and disposal of carbon slurry in its plant by any similar industries in their jurisdiction.

The bodies have informed that at present there are no carbon slurry-generating fertiliser industry and the volume of carbon slurry that is yet to be disposed of by fertiliser industries in their states is nil. Reminders have been issued to remaining state pollution control boards to submit their reports.

The CPCB also obtained the requisite information from Hindustan Urvarak and Rasayan regarding generation and disposal of carbon slurry. The unit has submitted that its process of manufacturing urea is based on natural gas feedstock and does not generate carbon slurry in the process of manufacturing urea fertiliser.

NGT comes down heavily on PWD for failing to take steps to protect trees in Bhopal

NGT pulled up the Public Works Department (PWD) of Bhopal February 20, 2024 for failing to protect trees and removing encroachments.

The district collector of Bhopal was directed by NGT to “call for an explanation from the PWD department and the Municipal Corporation as to why the action should not be initiated against them for not complying with the order of the tribunal or not protecting the state land, which is in their custody”.

Bhopal Municipal Corporation, in its affidavit, said that out of total 692 encroachments, around 299 encroachments have been removed and PWD has been communicated to take necessary action to remove the rest.

“Repeated orders are being passed to protect the forest land and forest trees but the responsibility is shifted from one department to another department,” noted the court. PWD hasn’t filed a response despite receiving a notice.

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