Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (June 3, 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: Wednesday 03 June 2020

Santragachi Jheel pollution

Inaction and inordinate delay by the authorities in saving the Santragachi Jheel from pollution and encroachment earned the ire of Justice Sonam Phintso Wangdi of the Kolkata (Eastern Zone Bench) of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on June 1, 2020.

The case was instituted on the allegation that the water body — a notified bird sanctuary in Howrah, West Bengal, was being polluted due to dumping of municipal and plastic wastes and building waste materials.

Besides, it was alleged that constructions were being undertaken on the northern side of the jheel by filling up portions of the water body. 

The NGT noted that even after the passage of two-and-a-half years and orders to settle the issue, nothing had been done.

The railways had to provide for the land for setting up the sewage treatment plant for treatment of the sewage diverted away from the water body and the cost was to be shared between the Howrah Municipal Corporation (HMC) and the railways in the “ratio of the contribution of sewage”. Also, all the encroachments had to be removed. 

The tribunal was appraised of the fact that the HMC and the railway authorities were responsible for the inordinate delay, whether it was the question of lease of the land, the release of funds towards cost of the projects and removal of encroachers. M / s Mackintosh Burn Ltd was responsible for the project. 

The NGT directed reports to be filed within 30 days from the following respondents:

  • The state of West Bengal
  • the HMC
  • the M / s. Mackintosh Burn Ltd
  • the Executive Director, Land and Amenities-1, Railway Board and
  • the Executive Director, Civil Engineering/ Environment and Housing Keeping Management, Railway Board

The matter would be next taken up before the NGT on July 21.

Victims of LG Polymer  

The NGT on June 1 sought response from the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change on the alleged unutilised amount of Rs 574 crore that the Environment Relief Fund Manager under the provisions of Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991 could spent on the victims of the LG Polymers gas leak in RR Venkatapuram village, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.

The said fund could be utilised under the provisions of the NGT Act, 2010 for restoration of environment and compensation to the victims, the application said.

The Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Sheo Kumar Singh felt the issue that had been raised as an Intervention Application, should appropriately be taken up as separate proceedings and registered as a separate Original Application.

Sand Mining in Madhya Pradesh

On June 1, the NGT heard the applications challenging the operation of sub rule (2) of Rule 26 of the Sand Mining Rule 2019 relating to mining operation in the state of Madhya Pradesh.

The rule transferred statutory permissions of Environment Clearance (EC) and Air / Water consent to new group contractors from village panchayats and local bodies. Counsel for the applicant had submitted that all statutory clearances were required to be obtained afresh by the transferees.

The NGT disposed of the application saying it was not tenable to say that it was a new expansion of business and thus would require fresh environmental clearance, as there was no expansion. But, in case of expansion of mining operations during the validity of the mining lease, fresh EC would be required.

Tripura water bodies

Tripura filed its report in compliance of the NGT order on information from all states and union territories on water bodies regarding their identification, protection and restoration.

The report stated that surveys had been done for geo tagging and assessment of pollution status of all water bodies on government land in urban areas of the state in the first phase of the assessment.

It was found that out of a total of 180 such water bodies, only 30 had been prioritised for preparation of the action plan for restoration of water quality in view of existing pollution levels (BOD values) and vulnerability to pollution. 

Kerala water bodies 

Kerala submitted its ‘Action Plan on Restoration of Water Bodies’ to the NGT in compliance with the the tribunal’s order about information on water bodies.

The report stated that 41,036 water bodies were being maintained by Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, department of soil survey and soil conservation, directorate of urban affairs / panchayats and Haritha Keralam Mission.

Around 40,000 water bodies were identified by Irrigation Design and Research Board (IDRB) for which unique identification number had been marked.

The Kerala State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), with GIS specialisation, marked the water bodies in all the 14 districts of the state.

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