Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (July 14, 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: Tuesday 14 July 2020

Water filling plants in Delhi

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) July 13, 2020 directed the Delhi Pollution Control Committee to follow the standard operating procedure (SOP) prepared by the Delhi government’s Environment Department on illegal borewells and tubewells.

The SOP assigned clear responsibilities to several agencies, including the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), local bodies and block development officers for identification of illegal borewells depending on nature of use.

The districts’ deputy commissioners (revenue) were told to supervise checking for any violations and closure of illegal borewells. An inter-departmental advisory committee was constituted for each district to assist the deputy commissioners.

The mechanism for the regulation, registration and prior permission for movement and deployment of drilling machines / rigs used to dig illegal borewells was incorporated in the SOP, along with the mechanism for levying environmental compensation.

The DJB identified 19,661 illegal borewells on which action was being taken, with 7,248 units already shut by district authorities.

The remaining units must be shut on priority as they were already identified, with the process to be completed within three months.

The NGT order was in pursuance to a complaint of water-filling plants being operated without license, the supply of contaminated water to parts of Delhi and a subsequent DJB report that proved the existence of unauthorised borewells at several locations.

Silica washing plants in Prayagraj

A committee constituted by the District Magistrate, Prayagraj, visited the city’s Shankargarh area June 16 to ensure non-operation of illegal silica washing plants.

The Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB), Prayagraj said consent to operate (CTO) was not issued for any of the plants, as permission from the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) was not received.

The committee submitted its report that stated no illegal silica washing plant was found operational. It was directed to visit the site regularly and ensure no illegal silica washing plant was running.

A report was submitted by the Deputy Labour Commissioner, Prayagraj Division over the safety and welfare of workers as well. It stated that safety and welfare measures for workers could not be enquired on as units were found non-operational.

With respect to 61 units, environmental compensation was imposed for August 2019 with the permission of a competent authority at Rs 7.25 lakh.

However, with respect to nine units, no process to issue environmental compensation took place as they were already closed.

The UPPCB regional officer said 60 recovery certificates from 61 units were issued against the illegal plants, with the certificate for the remaining one unit under process.

All this was mentioned in the report filed by the Divisional Commissioner, Prayagraj on the directions of a January 7 NGT order and uploaded to the NGT website July 14.

Formaldehyde manufacturing

The State Environment Impact Assessment Authority asked the Haryana State Pollution Control Board to stop immediate manufacturing activity of formaldehyde — a hazardous chemical — at a unit in Yamunanagar.

The unit was manufacturing the chemical without an environment clearance (EC). This was in compliance to a November 28, 2019 NGT order.

Use of reverse osmosis tech

Excessive loss of water because of the use of reverse osmosis (RO) technology in the country was taken up by the NGT July 13.

A two-member bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice Sonam Phintso Wangdi noted a delay by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC).

The delay was in issuing a notification to prohibit the use of RO in the manner laid by the NGT in its May 20, 2019 order.

The MoEF&CC sought an extension of time due to the countrywide lockdown, despite the passing of a year. The court directed necessary action to now be “completed positively” by December 31, 2020.

The matter was listed for further consideration in January 25, 2021.

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