Down To Earth brings you the top environmental cases heard in the Supreme Court, the high courts and the National Green Tribunal
Sirsa and Satluj pollution
Pollution in the rivers Sirsa and Satluj in Himachal Pradesh, caused by pharmaceutical effluents, was taken up the two-member bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice Sonam Phintso Wangdi of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on July 22, 2020.
An application was filed in the NGT against the discharge of waste in the common effluent treatment plant (CETP) at Baddi by Acme Life Sciences Pvt Ltd, Nalagarh and Helio Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd at Solan.
It was claimed that the CETP was not connected to the pharmaceutical units at Barotiwala and Nalagarh and they were thus discharging their effluents directly into the rivers.
The applicant — Veterans Forum for Transparency in Public Life — stated that even after treatment in Effluent Treatment Plants (ETP) / Sewage Treatment Plants (STP), pharmaceutical ingredients could still be discharged from industries unless ETP/STP were specialised for the purpose. Also, the present CETP was not designed to neutralise active pharmaceutical ingredients.
The treatment, storage and disposal facilities (TSDF) did not receive sludge generated from the industrial units at Nalagarh. The industries located at Baddi were generating 20,779 kilolitres a day (KLD) of industrial effluent, of which 17,894 KLD was being treated at the CETP and the remaining 2,885 KLD was being disposed of directly into the Sirsa.
There was no existing sewerage system in the Baddi Barotiwala Nalagarh area and no demarcation of residential and industrial area. The presence of Ciprofloxacin in the concentration of 296.1 micrograms per litre was found on chemical analysis. Concentration of Ciprofloxacin in the effluent discharge of Acme Life Sciences worked out to be 13,455 times the prescribed limit.
In response to the application, the NGT directed a joint Committee of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Himachal Pradesh State Pollution Control Board and the district magistrate of Solan to look into the matter and take further action. A factual and action taken report is to be furnished to the tribunal within three months.
Meghalaya rat-hole mining
The CPCB filed its report to the NGT on measures to restore the environment affected by rat-hole mining in Meghalaya. The report stated that the action plan prepared by the Independent Committee constituted on the issue was acceptable to the CPCB.
Further, the constitution of the sub Committee to oversee the use of Rs 100 crore for implementation of the said action plan was also acceptable to CPCB.
However, it was requested that a CPCB officer should be made a member and not the chairman. The chairman of the said sub Committee should be a senior officer of the state government (Chief Secretary or Secretary, Department of Forest and Environment), the report added.
Vehicle scrapping units
All illegal vehicle dismantling / scrapping units in Nangli Sakrawati area of Delhi have been closed down and show cause notices issued for levying of environmental compensation.
This was mentioned in the report filed by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) in compliance to the NGT order of March 16.
A joint team of officials from Transport Department and DPCC officials inspected six vehicle scrapping units on June 3, that were mentioned in the NGT order. Of the six units, four units were found to be in operation and the activity of dismantling of vehicles was going on. Two units were found non-operational and the premises were vacant. Closure directions were issued to the four units, which were found operational.
To ensure that no such illegal units apart from the six units mentioned in the court order were operating, a comprehensive survey of the Nangli Sakrawati area was undertaken by the DPCC on July 10. Eleven more such illegal vehicle scrapping / dismantling units were identified. Closure directions were issued to these illegal units identified during the survey.
To ensure effective closure of all the fifteen illegal vehicle dismantling units — a team of officials from DPCC, South Delhi Municipal Corporation, revenue, police, Delhi Jal Board and BSES carried out the drive on July 10. During the drive, three more such illegal units were identified over and above the 15 units.
The report said all the eighteen units identified in the Nangli Sakrawati area were effectively closed and power and water supply disconnected. Show cause notices for levying of environmental compensation in all the eighteen illegal scrapping units had been issued.
In addition, prosecution proceedings against the units would be started for violation of provisions under Air Act 1981 and Water Act 1974.
Slaughter house fined
A slaughter house operating in Radhika Nagar, a residential area in Durg district, was fined Rs 26,887,500 by the Chhattisgarh Environment Conservation Board (CECB). The environmental compensation amount was imposed for illegal operation and discharge of untreated effluent from the slaughter house for 2,151 days.
This was stated in the action taken report filed by the CECB in compliance to the NGT order of January 22.
The CECB had issued a notice on October 25, 2019 to the Commissioner, Nagar Nigam, Bhilai, regarding the operation of the slaughter house without valid consent and discharge of effluent without treatment. Further, closure direction was issued on November 11, 2019 under section 33 A of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
The Chhattisgarh State Power Distribution Co Ltd also disconnected the electricity, the report states. When the pollution control board officials inspected the site on November 25, 2019 and February 5, 2020, the slaughter house was found closed.
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