Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (November 17, 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: Tuesday 17 November 2020

Encroachment along national highways

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) said it had faced opposition and agitations from encroachers along national highways, in its response to a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order on the steps it had taken to remove encroachments. 

The various Project Implementation Units (PIU) of the NHAI had directed the body’s concessionaires and contractors to remove encroachments on the highways as found during patrolling.

Because of agitation, the PIUs had frequently sought assistance from the district authorities. But it had not served any purpose.

The NGT order of June 18, 2020, had directed the NHAI to file a compliance affidavit that would provide information for the last one year on the extent of encroachments across highways India.

The affidavit was to include information regarding provision and maintenance of green belts on either side of highways and survival percentage of trees / saplings planted.

The report stated that according to the provisions and applicable policies of the NHAI, the contractual agreements entered into between the NHAI and its concessionaires cast special duty on the concessionaire to protect the project highway from encroachment through a special provision.

One such provision was the protection of sites from encroachments. During the concession period, the concessionaire would protect the site from any occupations, encroachments, according to the provision.

The contractual agreements between the applicant and its concessionaire also provided special provisions of landscaping, plantation and its maintenance along the carriageway and median.

Eloor-Edayar pollution

The company, Edayar Zinc Ltd, filed a counter affidavit with the NGT stating that it was not the only source of contaminination of the Edayattuchal and Chakkarachal paddy fields in the Eloor-Edayar industrial belt of Ernakulam, Kerala.

It had been alleged in the KK Muhammed Iqbal vs Kerala State Pollution Control Board & Others case that surface run off from the company was contaminating the paddy fields.

However, the counter affidavit said the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report of the Local Area Environment Committee (LAEC) for Eloor-Edayar identified companies such as Hindustan Insecticides Ltd, Merchem Ltd, Indian Rare Earths Ltd and Fertilisers and Chemicals Travancore Ltd as the source of heavy metal and pesticide contamination in Eloor.

Edayar Zinc Ltd added that it was not the only source of contamination in Edayar. Heavy metals including zinc, iron, lead, cadmium copper, nickel and total chromium had been found in groundwater, soil and sediment samples from Edayattuchal and Chakkarachal, according to the EIA report prepared by the LAEC.

The analysis of sludge from the jarosite pond of the zinc company done by LAEC had found only the presence of zinc, iron, lead, cadmium, copper and nickel.

The presence of total chromium in the ground water, soil and sediment samples of Edayattuchal was found absent in the company’s sludge. This meant that there were other sources for contamination of the paddy fields, the counter affidavit said.

Apartment without STP

The Ram Sudha apartment complex constructed by Unnati Construction Pvt Ltd in Swarn Jayanti Nagar, Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, had neither obtained a consent to establish for establishment nor a consent to operate under the Provision of Water (Pollution Prevention and Control) Act, 1974.

The apartment had also not established the required water pollution control facility and had also not submitted any time-bound proposal for the establishment of a sewage treatment plant, the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) said.

The Board had issued a closure order against the apartment and had recommended an environmental compensation of Rs 1,037,500 for violation of the Water Act, 1974.

The UPPCB report was made online November 17, 2020.

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