Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (November 11, 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: Thursday 12 November 2020

Furnace oil leak at Chandrapura Thermal Power Station

A joint committee report dated September 29, 2020 on the leak of furnace oil in the premises of the Chandrapura Thermal Power Station (CTPS), operated by the Damodar Valley Corporation in Jharkhand, contained “incorrect information”.

It carried an incorrect date of incident and the extent of pollution to river Damodar, its tributaries and adjoining areas.

This was mentioned in the report filed by the applicant, Praveen Kr Singh, with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) as response to the joint committee report.

The report by the applicant said the committee had incorrect information about the date of incident, which happened on October 13, 2019 instead of October 15. No action was taken by the Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board (JSPCB) officials immediately when the spill took place.

The joint committee also failed to ascertain the correct quantity of oil spilled. The committee has shown a “very casual approach to ascertain the quantity of oil leaked into river Damodar” and relied upon a report which was prepared by an in-house committee of CTPS.

The joint committee report mentioned 0.60 kilolitres (600 litres) oil leaked into the river. This quantity could not have been true as the said leak continued for over 41 hours and 53,000 litres of oil had flown into the Damodar before it was detected by the district collector, Dhanbad.

The response report of November 10, 2020 stated that media reports also mentioned that the Damodar Valley Corporation intentionally released the water from the Tenughat reservoir to flush the oil in the river further downstream.

This resulted in the oil spreading much further along the course of the Damodar, impacting areas such as Dhanbad, Chas, Jharia and Sindri.

This, in turn, had an adverse impact on the drinking water supply of about two-three million people.

Waste management by armed forces

The NGT November 10 said the armed forces should look at having a suitable in-house monitoring mechanism at various levels so that environmental issues can be fully addressed.

Persons responsible should have a joint meeting with expert bodies such as the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) so that best practices were reviewed. The designated officers at different levels could also initiate awareness programmes on environmental issues and challenges.

The NGT order was in response to the application filed by Rtd Air Marshal Anil Chopra on waste management in the establishments of the armed forces.

A status report was filed September 10, 2020 in respect of the Air Force, Army and Navy.

The status report by the Air Force mentioned that green initiatives had been undertaken with instructions on cleanliness drive. Green norms had been laid down and environmental friendly procedures were being adhered to, it said.

The report of the Army referred to the Siachen Glacier ecological issues, action plan by way of sensitisation of troops, identifying methods to decrease the waste and methods of disposal thereof.

Two task forces were constituted and responsibilities given to reduce waste generation and scientific waste management at different locations. Assistance was sought from the corporate entities and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

The status report by the Navy mentioned that they adopted a theme of ‘Green Footprint to Blue Water Operations’. There were policy directives with respect to the solar power generation at naval units, fuel conservation onboard in ships, directives on handling hazardous and plastic waste.

Waste management was also given due impetus in existing naval stations and for all new naval projects related to marine infrastructure. Green measures were incorporated in the design stage itself, the report by the Navy said.

The Coast Guard also filed its status report.

Metallic alloys

Metallic alloys located at Industrial Growth Centre, Raipur, Chhattisgarh, installed five mega volt ampere submerged electric arc furnace for production of carbon ferro alloys using manganese ore, dolomite, carbon paste and coke.  

The unit is located in an industrial area and made an agreement with Chhattisgarh Ispat Bhumi Ltd for regular water requirement.

However, for any emergency situation, the industry also made bore wells with no-objection certificate from the Central Ground Water Authority, which is valid up to August 9, 2022. The industry was instructed by the Chhattisgarh Environment Conservation Board to submit a stack and fugitive monitoring report.

All raw materials were found covered at the site of storage.

Movable sprinklers were found installed in the premises to control fugitive emission and approximately 100 trees were found inside and outside the industry, according to the report filed by the Chhattisgarh Environment Conservation Board with the NGT.

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