Down To Earth brings you the top environmental cases heard in the Supreme Court, the high courts and the National Green Tribunal
Air quality monitoring
A compliance report by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) aimed at bringing the standards of air quality within the prescribed norms. The report came after a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order from October 8, 2018, where all states and Union territories (UTs) with non-attainment cities were directed to prepare appropriate action plans.
Ambient air quality was manually monitored from 793 locations in 344 cities and towns across 28 states and seven UTs under the National Air Quality Monitoring Programme.
Two hundred nineteen real-time stations in 123 cities across 18 states and two UTs did so under Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring systems.
Air quality was also monitored manually at 126 locations in 86 cities and towns across 13 states under the State Air Quality Monitoring Programme.
The CPCB, respective state pollution control boards (SPCBs) and pollution control committees (PCCs) carried out the monitoring.
Twelve air pollutants, including sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter (PM10), PM2.5 and eight air quality parameters were monitored in Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations (CAAQMS) in real time.
The draft framework for source apportionment was based on inputs received from air experts, finalised and circulated to all SPCBs / PCCs on October 10, 2019.
This was done through ESamikSha, a real-time, online system for monitoring follow-up action on decisions taken during presentations made to the Prime Minister by ministries / departments.
Source apportionment study was awarded and completed in 45 cities, according to information provided by states. The study was in the proposal stage in 35 cities.
The methodology for assessment of environmental carrying capacity was shared with concerned SPCBs/PCCs on December 16, 2019.
Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Telangana provided details of carrying capacity.
Assam, Bihar, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu gave reports on the status of shifting industrial units from residential areas.
Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Nagaland, Punjab and Telangana provided action points over shifting of polluting industries in city action plans.
CPCB officials inspected dumpsites with respect to bio-remediation in Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Many shortcomings were noticed in procedures adopted by different municipal corporations who were directed to follow CPCB Guidelines on disposal of legacy waste.
This included stabilisation and proper screening of waste, action plan to include proposed destination for utilisation of different fractions, leachate management system and testing of bio-earth, the CPCB said in its report for the NGT.
Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram and Punjab coordinated with state disaster management authorities and meteorological departments.
This included emergency as a part of disaster management, with emergency response systems were developed accordingly.
Jammu and Kashmir established a state emergency operation centre and district emergency operation centre for this purpose, under the Multi-Hazard Risk Assessment Project.
Monitoring air, noise pollution in Mizoram
Mizoram capital Aizawl has four manual air monitoring stations in operation since 2005 and one CAAQMS at Sikulpuikawn.
Air pollution data was displayed for Aizawl’s public using an LED display board since February 2020. This was mentioned in the report filed by the Mizoram Pollution Control Board.
The SPCB report stated ambient air monitoring devices were installed at four locations in Aizawl and regular monitoring of ambient noise was being conducted once a week from July 2019 onwards.
All sellers of public address system were directed not to sell audio systems without sound limiters.
Revenue generated from the consent fund was quite limited, as most industries in the state were small-scale, according to the report.
The consent funds received were utilised for meeting expenses towards inspection of industries, analysis of industrial wastes, monitoring and surveillance activities related to industries. The SPCB also said Mizoram had no legacy waste dump sites.
Sand mining in Subarnarekha
The NGT on June 9 directed the formation of a joint committee to look into the matter of illegal sand mining in the Subarnarekha river at Jaleswar tehsil in Odisha’s Balasore district.
The villagers of Panchughanta were affected by the impact of sand mining: There was severe air pollution, depletion of water level, change in the river’s course and obstruction of its natural flow by wooden bridges and approach roads within the river. This was stated in the application filed before the NGT.
Indiscriminate sand mining caused a severe threat to the environment, with severe environmental degradation and ecological impact taking place because no Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was undertaken.
In addition, there was heavy movement of trucks and tractors engaged in sand mining. No green belt was developed along the approach road to the mine and no barrier zones created for obstruction of noise and dust.
Artificial sand banks were created, obstructing water flow. Wooden bridges constructed for vehicles caused erosion along the riverbank.
Machines were engaged for mining from the water in the pretext of pay loading. Mechanical mining was also resorted to where only manual mining was allowed. Mining was also done in excess of the permission granted.
Mining activity, thus, was not only unscientific but also against the Precautionary Principal and the EIA Notification, 2006, according to the complainant.
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