Down To Earth brings you the top environmental cases heard in the Supreme Court, the high courts and the National Green Tribunal
Home stays in Uttarakhand
A report on home stays in Uttarakhand was filed before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) by the Uttarakhand Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board and uploaded to the NGT site on June 23, 2020.
In pursuance to the NGT order, a joint committee was formed and meetings held in December 2019 in presence of representative of Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board, Garhi Cantt, Dehradun, and representative of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
The report mentioned that the Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board, Dehradun, had made a policy for establishment of home stay, known as Home Stay Rule 2015. The main aim of the policy was to check migration from hilly areas and provide employment to local residents and familiarise tourists with the local culture.
The residents can register up to six rooms in the plan. All activities have to be non-commercial. The district registration and search committee was formed under district tourism officer for registration, which after due inspection and considering the eligibility criteria, seeks approval from the district magistrate concerned.
The registration committee also verifies domestic effluent treatment provision and solid waste management in the home stay.
Rath Yatra in Puri
The Supreme Court on June 22, 2020 allowed the annual Rath Yatra in Puri, Odisha, subject to certain conditions.
The top court in its June 18 order had restrained holding of the Rath Yatra this year in view of the danger presented by the gathering of 10-12 lakh devotees for 10-12 days due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The apex court observed that any spread of the novel coronavirus due to the Rath Yatra would be disastrous due to the large number of persons and the impossibility of tracking all the infected people after they go back to their homes.
“While we do not have the official copy of the gazette itself, we are informed that in the 18th-19th century yatra of this kind was responsible for the spread of cholera and plague,” the SC said.
The state of Odisha, in the affidavit filed, informed the court that it would be possible to conduct Rath Yatra in Puri “in a limited way without public attendance”.
This was proposed by Gajapati Maharaj of Puri, the Chairman of Puri Jagannath Temple Administration.
The SC observed that if it were possible to ensure that there was no public attendance, there was no reason why the Rath Yatra could not be conducted safely along its usual route from temple to temple. It directed that the Rath Yatra be held if the conditions laid down by the SC were followed.
The conditions include closing of all entry points into the city of Puri (airports, railway stations, bus stands) during the period yatra and imposition of curfew in Puri on all days.
Each rath should be pulled by not more than 500 persons, each of whom would be tested for the virus.
Mud car rallies in Bhopal
The Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board in its report to the NGT recommended that no car rallies be allowed in any wetland in Bhopal and that they be organised in the undulating terrains away from the wetlands.
The report was in compliance to the NGT October 22, 2019 order to look into the complaint of an illegal mud car rally organized in the Bhoj wetland (upper lake) of Bhopal by a sports group called ‘Bhopal Rally Championship’.
During inspection, applicant Rashid Noor Khan told the inspection team that the mud car rally was conducted in and around Kaliasote reservoir area and showed two sites at Kaliasote Reservoir.
The participants also practised at the site for about a week. It is to be noted that the rally route was within the Kaliasote reservoir, which is not part of Bhoj wetland, but is linked to it.
The applicant also informed the team that due to the car rallies, the flora and fauna and the breeding ground was adversely affected and solid waste was accumulated near Kaliasote reservoir.
Stone crushers in Doda
At least 12 stone crushers and hot mix plants were shut in Jammu & Kashmir’s Doda district due to failure to produce requisite permissions to operate the units.
This was stated in the report filed by the Jammu & Kashmir Pollution Control Board to the NGT.
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