Down To Earth brings you the top environmental cases heard in the Supreme Court, the high courts and the National Green Tribunal
NGT orders setting up central monitoring committee for forest fires
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on May 28, 2019, while acknowledging that a comprehensive action plan for forest fires has been adopted in the form of National Action Plan on Forest Fire (NAPFF), noted that its implementation requires a robust institutional mechanism in view of increase in the incidents.
Such mechanism should comprise representatives from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Wildlife Institute of India (Dehradun), NDMA, Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (Dehradun), Forest Survey of India and the National Remote Sensing Centre (Hyderabad) — representing the Central Government on the one hand — and the principal chief conservator of forests of all states/UTs on the other.
The central monitoring committee would be headed by the secretary, MoEF&CC. The central monitoring committee has been asked to meet once in three months and address all the issues arising out of forest fires, including the effective implementation of the NAPFF.
Further, a national level database is to be developed under NAPFF for burnt area assessment, which should have standardised protocols and procedures to facilitate reporting of the area affected and losses due to forest fire.
Assessment of ecologically sensitive areas in Himachal still not completed, NGT told
The degradation of Kullu and Manali in Himachal Pradesh in terms of air and water pollution as well as encroachment of forest lands and construction in flood plains of Beas and Ravi rivers came up for hearing before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on May 28, 2019.
The matter came for review on September 19, 2018 and the tribunal had ordered that carrying capacity assessment of the ecologically sensitive and geographically fragile areas in Himachal Pradesh, particularly Manali and Mcleodganj be conducted by a joint inspection committee, taking into account factors like vehicular traffic, parking space, air quality, earthquakes, land bearing capacity of the soil.
But even after expiry of eight months, the affidavit filed by Himachal Pradesh states that there was no input from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the land use map of Kullu Valley Planning area has not been finalised.
The NGT gave another opportunity to the state to take effective steps in the matter and the secretary (Town and Country Planning Department) and member secretary, State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) were directed to remain present in person with the compliance report on the next date of hearing.
NGT penalizes Ghaziabad municipal corporation
The matter of inaction by the Municipal Corporation of Ghaziabad in complying with the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, by not collecting garbage from Indirapuram, Vasundhara and Vaishali areas came up for hearing before the NGT on May 28, 2019.
The plea claimed that garbage was being dumped at Shakti Khand, adversely affecting the air quality. A report received by the tribunal from the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) acknowledged that garbage was being dumped at Shakti Khand, and that there was no segregation of garbage.
The Municipal Corporation of Ghaziabad has been directed to deposit a sum of Rs 25 lakh towards compensation for damage to the environment within one month with the CPCB.
Manual and guidelines on operation of STPs soon
A report, submitted to the NGT, by the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) and Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) said there were deficiencies in the operation of sewage treatment plants (STPs) near Mayur Vihar, Delhi, which led to release of hazardous gases.
The report further recommended measures, which include components of STPs be kept in operational condition so that chances of anaerobic process are minimal, effective odour control mechanism and plantation near the residential areas.
The NGT on May 28, 2019 directed that the recommendations be carried out by the DJB and further report be furnished to the DPCC. The Central Public Health Environmental Engineering Organization (CPHEEO) of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has been asked to bring out guidelines/manual on operation and maintenance of STPs.
The CPCB may bring out norms with reference to odour control and sitting of STPs to avoid public nuisance. The norms and guidelines should be brought out within three months, ordered the tribunal.
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