Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (January 4, 2023)

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 05 January 2023
Down To Earth brings you top environmental cases heard in Supreme Court, high courts & National Green Tribunal

Mining in Doon Valley

The Uttarakhand Pollution Control Board (UKPCB) faced the ire of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) over its failure to submit a report on granting environmental clearance (EC) to a stone crusher unit in Dehradun district’s village Baluwala. 

The member secretary of UKPCB was directed by NGT to appear before it on the next hearing, January 20, 2023. The report has to be submitted within 15 days, “failing which all members of the committee shall also appear before the Tribunal on next date,” a January 3, 2023 order said.

NGT was looking into an appeal against a State Environment Impact Assessment Authority, Uttarakhand order passed August 12, 2021. The order granted EC for the establishment of a proposed stone crusher plant at village Baluwala, pargana Pachwadoon , tehsil Vikasnagar, district Dehradun.

The appellants Deepak Kumar and others objected to the EC, saying Doon Valley is a protected area. Stone crushing is not permissible in the area according to a notification dated February 1, 1989 and a Supreme Court ruling (Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra v State of Uttar Pradesh and others, AIR 1988 SC 2187).

In such a case, mining can begin only with permission from the Centre, which had not been obtained in this case, the appeal said. The unit is located on the river floodplain in violation of Uttarakhand Mineral (Prevention of Illegal Mining, Illegal Transport and Illegal Storage) Rules, 2020.

The EC was granted even before the licence to operate the stone crusher without conducting any environmental impact assessment, the appeal further said. There was no permission for extraction of groundwater while the EC noted that water requirements will be met from borewells, the applicant added.

The NGT, September 27, 2022 had directed a joint committee comprising the Central Pollution Control Board, UKPCB and district magistrate, Dehradun, to furnish a report within two months. However, even after three months, the committee has not submitted a report.

Garbage dump on Rapti river floodplain

The NGT directed a six-member joint committee to look into dumping of garbage on the floodplain of river Rapti by Nagar Nigam Gorakhpur. The panel was formed earlier to monitor pollution levels in the river. 

The committee shall examine the matter and take remedial action, the NGT said. The panel must include the action taken, especially with reference to remediation of existing dumpsites, clearing of unauthorised dumpsites and setting up of adequate waste processing facilities, it added.

The applicant, Radhe Shyam Sehra, said many dumping stations had been created in Gorakhpur city. The decomposed garbage is creating a foul smell and unhygienic conditions, which has also resulted in several deaths in the city, he alleged.

Groundwater extraction in Ghaziabad

A committee comprising officials from the Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) and Uttar Pradesh Groundwater Department was directed by the NGT January 3 to look into the extraction of groundwater for commercial purposes in Ghaziabad, UP. 

The joint committee was asked to submit a factual report within two months and the HSPCB will be the nodal agency for coordination and compliance.

The tribunal was hearing an issue of groundwater illegally extracted through submersible pumps and sold in Ghaziabad. 

The area is already in the category of “overexploited area”, said an application by advocate Khem Chand. Thereby, illegal extraction contaminates groundwater and creates scarcity in the availability of drinking water for the local residents, he said.

Polluting milk plant in Bulandshahr

The NGT directed a joint committee to look into a polluting milk plant operating in Bulandshahr district, UP.

The tribunal has received a complaint that the plant, located in Gulawati Nagar Palika Parishad, was polluting the air and water. 

The joint committee comprising the UP Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) and district magistrate, Bulandshahr will visit the site, collect information and submit a factual and action taken, if any, report within two months, the NGT said. 

“The report needs to furnish, besides other, status of compliance with reference to consent conditions,” the order passed by the bench of Justice Sudhir Agarwal, January 3, 2023 said. 

An application was received by the NGT, June 4, 2022 from several complainants led by Manvir Tevtiya. The complaint stated the Paras milk plant is violating emission standards for air pollution and discharging untreated polluted effluents directly into the groundwater by reverse borewell system.

The plant is also discharging untreated effluent in the drains directly or transporting such effluent through tankers, the complaint further said.

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