Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (February 28, 2023)

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

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 28 February 2023
Down To Earth brings you top environmental cases heard in Supreme Court, high courts & National Green Tribunal

Illegal mining near Yamuna floodplain

National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed a joint committee to prepare a plan of action to prevent illegal mining on the floodplain of rivers like Yamuna. The panel has been told to prepare the plan in a month, which must then be executed within the next three months, NGT said.  

It is clear from reports that mining is being done within a kilometre range from Yamuna, the NGT pointed out February 24, 2023. The mining occurred in the floodplain zone in National Capital Region’s Shamli district in Uttar Pradesh. 

The district magistrate for Shamli issued the license on January 4, 2023 for removing the mineral deposited on agricultural land. However, 19,124 cubic metres of sand have already been mined from the area. 

“Thus, illegal mining has taken place in the garb of the license granted by the district magistrate,” noted the tribunal. The DM Shamli’s letter dated January 21, 2023 showed that machines and five dumpers had been used. 

Mining on the floodplain zone of the river is prohibited as per River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection and Management) Authorities Order, 2016, which also applies to the Yamuna river. 

“Thus, it is not a case of simple removal of sand from a field of an individual but systematic commercial mining in the garb thereof, as suggested in the media report,” the NGT said.

CPCB report to the NGT on microplastics

There is currently no standard method for sampling and analysis of microplastics in the environment, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) told the NGT. 

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is currently working on the subject, CPCB said in a report submitted to the tribunal. Organisations involved in microplastic analyses should develop a uniform procedure for sampling and analysis, which can be adopted uniformly across the country until the ISO standard is finalised, it added. 

Central Institute of Petrochemicals Engineering & Technology under Union Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers, National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management under Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change of India and Union Ministry of Earth Science’s National Centre for Coastal Research are some organisations involved in microplastic analyses. 

Sources of generation of microplastics, including industries, waste management, wastewater treatment and ocean activities, have been identified in India. However, the exact quantum of microplastics generated from the identified source has not been determined. 

Microplastic concentration in transfer media is available for soil/beach sediment, surface water bodies, biota and ocean water. Microplastic concentration for sludge, specifically when it is converted to compost for land application, is not available, CPCB said. 

Microplastic concentration in end-use areas, including ambient air, drinking water and groundwater, is available, said the February 10 CPCB report.

The CPCB report was in compliance with the NGT order dated April 5, 2022, in Original Application No. 251/2022 in reference to a news article published in daily The Hindu on March 29, 2022 titled Detecting microplastics in human blood.

Workforce for Jammu & Kashmir Pollution Control Committee

The NGT directed the chief secretary (CS) for Jammu and Kashmir to take steps to strengthen the workforce for Jammu and Kashmir Pollution Control Committee (J&KPCCC). The chief secretary has been asked to take necessary action within two months.

The J&KPCC is staffed by only seven persons, which is “not adequate to enforce the environmental regulatory mechanism”, the court was informed.

Illegal mining of gypsum near Indo-Pak border

The NGT directed the additional chief secretary for mines and geology, Rajasthan, to look into illegal gypsum mining as it not only harms the environment but also results in loss of revenue for the state.

The court had initiated proceedings in light of media reports about illegal gypsum mining on the Indo-Pak border in the Bikaner district of the state. 

Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board has filed its response along with reports by the state government’s Mining Department to the effect that no mining is permissible within a km of the border. 

It was found 172.5 tonnes of gypsum was illegally mined within 250 metres of the border, for which a penalty of Rs 2,96,000 has been collected. 

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