Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (November 18, 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 18 November 2020

Kharicut canal

Maximum efforts were being taken to stop the flow of industrial wastewater and domestic sewage into the Kharicut Canal, according to a joint report submitted by the Gujarat Pollution Control Board and the Urban Development and Urban Housing Department before the National Green Tribunal (NGT).

Of 169 outlets, no discharge of sewage was observed from 156. Of the remaining 13 outlets, three belonged to sewage treatment plants (STPs) discharging treated waste water, the report said.

Work to divert sewage water from the remaining 10 outlets into the existing drainage line was under progress. The project had an overall budget of Rs 25.81 crore.

The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) had installed appliances to measure pH at the Vinzol trunk main pipeline carrying waste water to the Vinzol STP of 35 and 70 million litres per day (MLD) capacity in August 2020.

An amount of Rs 5.50 crore had been spent on the augmentation and repair of the Vinzol STP of 70 MLD. Pumping machines and a pH meter with hooter system had been installed at an additional cost of 29.47 lakh.

The AMC had taken up the task of cleaning the Kharicut Canal under the Sujalam Sufalam Jal Sanchay Campaign 2018 with a number of machines like JCBs, excavators and tractors. It had cleaned approximately 31,446 metric tonnes of waste from the canal.

Old drainage and illegal connections along the canal had been regularised under the ‘Nal Se Jal’ (Water from the tap) scheme. A total of 1,971 house connections had been regularised under the scheme, the report of November 2, 2020, said.

Siswan river

Government officials from Punjab agreed to implement remedial measures suggested at a high-level meeting regarding the obstruction of the Siswan river by a newly built apartment complex in Chandigarh after placing them before the NGT.

The chief secretary of Punjab had called a meeting of the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADAA), the housing and urban development, irrigation and  environment departments.

The aim of the meeting was to look into the matter of Omaxe Chandigarh Extension Developers Pvt Ltd setting up a residential complex named ‘The Lake’.

The project had obstructed the natural flow of the Siswan river by filling up and closing a part of it in Bharounjian village and diverting it to the nearby village of Kansala in Sahibzada Ajit Singh Nagar district. This had resulted in environmental damage and flooding in the area.

The chief engineer, Drainage, Department of Water Resources had proposed the following:

1. The cross section of the Siswan’s tributary needed to be restored to its original capacity of 700 cusecs in the project area by Omaxe under the supervision of the drainage wing of the water resources department
 2. Two pipes of five feet diameter were inadequate to take the 700 cusec discharge of the tributary of the Siswan. Hence, they should be replaced with a bridge of a span of 50 feet and the cost should be paid for by Omaxe
3. The illegal and unauthorised embankments created in the main bed of the Siswan river by private landowners, which diverted and restricted the flow of water should be removed and the original course of the river restored
 4.  Adequate flood protection works needed to be carried out in the Siswan river

Alang ship-breaking yard

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) report of July 2020 on the Alang ship-breaking yard missed out on several key parameters that are specific to ship recycling and breaking activities.

These include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls and organotins. Also, most of the sampling locations were too remote to represent areas impacted by ship-breaking activities.

These were some of the observations on behalf of the Conservation Action Trust to the MoEF&CC report. The case is against the expansion of ship breaking yards in Alang by adding more area of the inter-tidal zone for the purpose of breaking old ships on the beach. The beaching method is the least environment friendly and has the highest pollution potential.

The report found concerningly high levels of heavy metals in the sediment analysis. In addition to the alarmingly high levels of heavy metals in the sediment samples, the MoEF&CC report had also found mercury levels in the water samples to be exceeding standards.

With respect to impact on marine biodiversity, the report used data from 1997-2007 and 2007-2008 as a baseline to evaluate the results of the 2020 study. The report failed to assess the impact from the toxic substances on marine biodiversity and the impact on fish catch from traditional fishing activities. 

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