Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (November 10, 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 11 November 2020

Forest encroachments in Delhi

Forest laws could be defeated by allowing encroachments and then pleading helplessness by the authorities in enforcing the law, said the two-member Bench of Adarsh Kumar Goel and Sheo Kumar Singh of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) November 9, 2020.

The judges were hearing the case filed by Amarjit Singh Nalwa on the failure of the authorities to remove encroachments from forest land despite NGT’s December 11, 2015 order at certain locations in South Delhi.

The matter was considered in the light of the status reports filed by the deputy commissioner, south district, Delhi government.

It showed there were 5,000 encroachers and 750-800 structures set up illegally over a period of time at one camp / bastis and about 3,000 encroachers living at another camp in Mehrauli. Huge forest land has been encroached. 

The NGT said while removing such encroachment was a challenge, the Rule of Law needed to be enforced. It directed that further action be taken according to law and status report as on March 31, 2021 be filed before April 19, 2021.

Oil spillage at Chandrapura Thermal Power Station

There was hardly any environmental damage due to the oil spill that occurred at Chandrapura Thermal Power Station (CTPS), Jharkhand, October 15, 2019, during the unloading of fuel oil.

However, oil (hydrocarbon) when released into the environment, undergoes volatilisation, chemical oxidation, bioaccumulation, adsorption to soil particles, leaching and microbial degradation, according to the inspection report by a committee formed in compliance with the NGT order June 15, 2020.

A visit to the nearby area revealed no environmental damages to the nearby agricultural fields or wild plants. Fuel oil is considered to be less toxic and even though it has an immediate effect on the vegetation, the long term-effect needs an extended in-depth study.

Indian Oil Corp Ltd (IOCL)'s rail rake from Haldia reached inside the plant and oil and was being unloaded at CTPS site through a new unloading system. But a considerable delay was noticed in the system due to technical reasons.

Consequently upon the non-functioning of the new system, it was later unloaded through the old system. During this shifting, some quantity of spillage of fuel oil occurred that was allowed to be collected in a sump tank and ultimately pumped into the main storage tank.

However, the connecting hume pipe developed crack and oil leaked from it, ingressing in the nearby drainage system constructed to collect the storm / rain water and meeting the river Damodar. The drain, however, passes through an oil catcher system which is between the said oil unloading system and the confluence point of the Damodar.

As soon as the oil leakage was detected, CTPS started necessary measures to collect the spilled oil from the drainage channel and river in presence of Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board (JSPCB) officials.

As per the direction of JSPCB, this oil loading / unloading system had not been in operation since October 15, 2019.

The spilled oil was collected from the drainage channel and river and stored in 18 oil drums and kept at a secured place. Fly ash was also used to soak spilled oil to control spillage of oil and stored in a concrete tank.

Timber smuggling

In response to an application filed before the NGT about the illegal hand sawing of timber taking place in Seijosa forest range and the transport of timber to Assam, a report was filed by the divisional forest officer, Khellong Forest Division, Bhalukpong.

Illegal felled trees at remote locations were detected in Papum forest. The range forest officer of Seijosa forest range said the range shared an inter-state border with Assam and the border being porous, the early detection of illegal felling of trees was difficult unless ‘beats under this range and posting of foresters and deputy rangers took place’.

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