Environment

Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (July 27, 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
Last Updated: Monday 27 July 2020

Environment restoration plan

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) July 24, 2020 directed all state pollution control boards and pollution control committees to prepare action plans for restoring the environment and implementing district environment plans.

This was to be done in coordination with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), which was also asked to prepare a plan for the utilisation of funds available with it.

The NGT order was in response to the illegal operation of marriage halls, nursing homes, clinics, hospitals, commercial complexes, hotels and other commercial establishments in the districts of Banda and Mahoba in Uttar Pradesh and Chitrakoot in Madhya Pradesh.

They were running without no-objection certificates / consent to operate from the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB).

The NGT in its previous July 15, 2019 order noted the UPPCB cited a lack of staff for its failure to “discharge its statutory responsibility even if it may result in lawlessness”.

The state’s chief secretary was asked to review the situation and furnish a report on the matter.

On July 24, when the matter came up before the NGT again, it was found the chief secretary did not file the report. The NGT also termed a report by the UPPCB on the matter as far from satisfactory.

The UPPCB report proposed to spend the environment restoration fund on establishment of pollution control rooms, which the tribunal said was, in a way, a capital investment.

What was required in terms of the tribunal’s orders was to spend the environmental restoration fund for the purpose it was meant for: Restoring the environment.

This must involve strengthening vigilance mechanism and setting up laboratories for monitoring the environment.

Coordination with district magistrates to prepare district environment plans, hiring experts and consultants, undertaking remediation and study of contaminated sites was needed as well, the tribunal said.

The UPPCB was directed to relook its plan with the help of the CPCB. The plan must be finalised with the approval of the CPCB within two months, the order said.

CETP plant for dyeing units in Punjab

Payment for setting up a 50 million litre per day (MLD) common effluent treatment plant (CETP) project for dyeing units at Tajpur-Roan road was not made, said an application filed by the Punjab Dyers Association in the NGT.

The payment was supposed to be made by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) and the Punjab government.

In response, the MoEF&CC filed an affidavit informing the court of steps taken. The ministry said the technical appraisal committee for CETPs — with respect to a 40 MLD CETP project of Punjab Dyers Association — recommended the project for Rs 55.40 crore with the Union government’s share being Rs 15 crore.

The ministry said it released Rs 2.88 crore of its share to the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) for the establishment of the 40 MLD CETP.

A state subsidy of Rs 1.44 crore was also made available to the CETP project under the provision of a centrally-sponsored scheme for CETPs.

With respect to the 50 MLD CETP project, the ministry said it sanctioned a Central subsidy of Rs 15 crore under the CETP scheme. It also released Rs 3 crore as the first instalment towards the Centre’s share to the PPCB.

The affidavit said the Centre’s subsidy was released after a commensurate state subsidy was made available to the CETP project. The PPCB was required to ensure the conditions as stipulated in the sanction orders of the CETP projects.

The NGT in its July 24 order said better coordination was needed among the authorities and no adjudication was required from the court.

The tribunal suggested a joint meeting be held between the Secretary, MoEF&CC and Punjab’s chief secretary within a month. Further action may be taken according to a joint decision.

The Punjab Pollution Control Board was directed to ensure all dyeing units and other members of CETP comply with the norms and do not discharge untreated effluents. If they do, they will be made liable for environmental compensation, said the court.

Land encroachment

The NGT July 24 asked Delhi’s chief secretary to look into the encroachment of government land at village Haiderpur. The court earlier directed the sub-divisional magistrate of Saraswati Vihar and the North Delhi Municipal Corporation to file a report.

The tribunal, however, expressed its unhappiness at the report that was filed and termed it an “inaction report”.

The chief secretary was asked to hold a meeting within two months and file a report to the court.

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