Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (July 31, 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: Friday 31 July 2020

Lake pollution Bengaluru

The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) filed its report before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) which mentioned steps to ensure zero discharge of sewage into the Agara, Bellandur and Varthur lakes.

The report was filed May 12, 2020 and uploaded to the NGT website July 31.

The report mentioned execution of projects for setting up sewage treatment plants (STP), upgrading them with biological nutrient removal and laying a sewerage network.

This work is to be completed by September 30. The report also included measures to ensure treated water was not discharged to the urban growth boundary network and no untreated sewage entered the lakes.

BWSSB said due to the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), there was no progress of work between March 24 and April 14.

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare classified Bengaluru urban under the red zone as well, the report said.

Under the circumstances, the restrictions were continued till May 3. Though movement of non-essential goods and vehicles was permitted, cement and steel needed for construction activities could not be arranged because of the shutdown of manufacturing units.

The BWSSB told the tribunal that a new STP of 150 million litres per day (MLD) capacity based on activated sludge process will be completed soon.

Construction of 210 MLD intermediate sewage pumping stations at Koramangala Sports Complex was underway, but sewerage will be pumped only after the completion of the 150 MLD STP, the report said.

Two STPs — of five MLD capacity at Chikkabeguru and 10 MLD capacity at Hulimavu — were completed and commissioned, the report added.

Arsenic contamination of groundwater in UP

An oversight committee constituted by the NGT to look into the contamination of groundwater from arsenic in Uttar Pradesh filed its report July 27.

There was contamination of groundwater due to arsenic and non-availability of clean drinking water in:

  • Bahraich
  • Ballia
  • Balrampur
  • Bareilly
  • Basti
  • Bijnor
  • Chandauli
  • Ghazipur
  • Gonda
  • Gorakhpur
  • Lakhimpur Kheri
  • Meerut
  • Mirzapur
  • Moradabad
  • Rai Bareilly
  • Sant Kabir Nagar
  • Shajahanpur
  • Siddharthnagar
  • Sant Ravidas Nagar
  • Unnao

These districts, including a few others, were in focus since 2015.

The report said there were 707 arsenic affected habitations in UP. Currently, 164 habitats were not covered by piped water supply, of which 44 will be completed by December 2020 and 45 will be completed by March 2021 through on-going piped water supply schemes, the report said.

One hundred and twenty habitations were proposed to be covered by the Community Water Purification Plant.

The work of dismantling hand pumps in arsenic polluted habitations was not done. It should be completed in the next three months, the report said.

The health department should conduct a health survey in the affected areas in the next three months as well and present a micro plan indicating health hazards and their mitigation strategy to the NGT in the next six months, the report said.

Another recommendation was for the agriculture department to conduct a study to assess the impact of arsenic on the food chain along with mitigation strategies including changes in cropping pattern and modification in agricultural practices in six months.

Waste management at Dabwali

Lack of adequate progress on the unscientific handling of solid waste at Dabwali in Haryana’s Sirsa district by state officials earned the NGT’s displeasure.

A report was filed July 15 by the state that did not show adequate progress in statutory rules, even though some steps were taken.

The NGT granted a “last opportunity” for remedial action. It said failure will invite coercive measures.

The matter was listed for further consideration on January 11, 2021. The court directed for a copy of its order to be sent to the Secretary, Urban Local Bodies Department for compliance.

Industrial pollution in Raigarh

An oversight committee formed to look into the matter of pollution caused by thermal power plants and coal washeries in Tamnar and Gharghoda blocks in Chhattisgarh’s Raigarh district requested the NGT for an extension of two months to file its report.

The extension — which was sought citing COVID-19 — was accepted by the NGT July 28.

Power plants and coal washeries included Jindal Power Ltd, Jindal Power and Steel Ltd, TRN Energy Pvt Ltd, Mahavir Energy and Coal Benefaction Ltd, Hindalco Industries Ltd and Monet Energy Ltd.

The operation of the said units allegedly resulted in the contamination of air, water and land and had an adverse impact on the environment.

Water and soil had toxic metals with a potential for health hazard. This required monitoring of emissions, making the polluter accountable and regulating polluting activities.

The NGT February 27 directed measures suggested in the Central Pollution Control Board report be adopted.

The report suggested installation of electro-static precipitators and fluidised gas desulfurisers in the thermal power plants.

It also considered ground water depletion, soil pollution, forest loss and livelihood loss.

The court said any further expansion or new projects in the area should be allowed only after thorough evaluation, with a mechanism for remedial measures in place, including oversight of measures for health mitigation.

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