Down To Earth brings you top environmental cases heard in Supreme Court, high courts & National Green Tribunal
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has slapped a fine of Rs 100 crore on the Municipal Corporation of Ludhiana for failing to comply with Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016. The non-compliance had led to a fire at a waste dumping site, leading to seven people’s death.
The state government can deposit the amount if the corporation is unable to make such a deposit, said the NGT order July 25, 2022.
NGT took up the matter after media reports brought to light the deaths at a garbage dump site at Tajpur Road, Ludhiana, in April this year.
Most of the deceased belonged to a ragpicker family who was living near the dump site. Over 2 million tons of garbage had been collected at the spot.
A monitoring committee constituted by NGT said the municipal corporation and other state authorities have failed to provide a clean environment. In a report May 15, 2022, the panel said the authorities had not complied with waste rules in Ludhiana and other areas.
The committee report said:
Around 1,100 tonnes of garbage is generated at Ludhiana every day. Only 49 per cent of it is treated. At present, 2.5-3 million tonnes of legacy waste is stored on 52 acres of land in Ludhiana. No steps are being taken to remediate this
The panel also mentioned non-compliance in other districts. Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib, Sangrur and Malerkotla, SBS Nagar, Mansa, Ropar, Gurdaspur, Pathankot, Fazitka and Sri Mukatsar Sahib were other affected areas.
NGT directed the authorities concerned to take action according to the monitoring panel’s report.
The court noted that in view of the preponderance of probabilities that the deaths were due to the fire, the civic body is to be held liable to pay compensation to their next of kin within a month. The corporation has to submit the amount to the district magistrate of Ludhiana.
The compensation was assessed at Rs 10 lakh each for victims aged above 50 and Rs 7.5 lakh each to the victims below 20 years of age.
The civic body has been told to set up the infrastructure required to prevent such fires. “Remediation of legacy waste, which was already delayed, may now be done without further delay,” the NGT said.
Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) —the apex organisation in the country for pollution control — has been asked to collate information on legacy and active dump sites in states and Union territories.
CPCB is also looking at cities with a population of more than a million and coming up with timelines to prepare and execute fire management plans.
Treated wastewater of 57 out of a total of 101 existing sewage treatment plants in Punjab are being re-used, the NGT was informed.
Around 90 kiloliters per day (KLD) of treated wastewater is sprinkled on 8.5 km of roads to control dust emissions, stated a report by Directorate of Environment and Climate Change, Punjab. The quarterly status report covered April to June 2022.
NGT had earlier directed states to submit whether rules on solid waste management, the status of STPs and re-use of treated water, bio-medical waste, etc were being followed.
The directorate has installed 11 real-time monitoring stations to check the water quality of rivers Beas, Sutlej, Ghaggar and Budha Nallah.
It is also developing low-cost sensors to monitor various parameters of water quality — pH, TDS, conductivity, BOD, DO and COD — in collaboration with Indian Institute Of Technology, Ropar. IITs are premiere public technical institutes.
Uttarakhand Pollution Control Board — the state pollution control body — has been directed by the Supreme Court to make frequent visits to stone units to ensure conformity with noise pollution norms.
The body will send weekly reports to the SC on the functioning of the stone units.
Uttarakhand government and Uttarakhand Pollution Control Board were also asked to file affidavits categorising the area where the units are located for noise pollution.
The stone units should take all necessary steps to ensure the noise emitted is in strict conformity with the norms, the SC order said.
The SPCB informed the court that it would take all necessary steps for installing equipment to ensure that the appellant stone units emit noise as permitted by law.
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