Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (November 9, 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: Monday 09 November 2020

Waste management by military

The Indian Army had undertaken a large number of initiatives to manage waste generated by its troops all along India’s Himalayan border, according to a report filed by the Union Ministry of Defence with the National Green Tribunal (NGT).

The report said waste generated by cantonments and military stations in Ladakh was segregated into three different categories.

Bio-digesters for disposal of human excreta had been installed as trial measures in selected posts on the Siachen glacier and transit camps at Leh, Patseo, Karu, Sarchoo, Pang and Partapur.

Most non-biodegradable waste was retrieved through animal porters, civil ponies and troops being de inducted, the report said.

The use of extra strong jute packaging material instead of plastic and provision of tetra and refill packs for rations had reduced and restricted the accumulation of plastic.

The replacement of metallic barrels and jericans with reinforced HDPE barrels / jerricans had helped in the reduction of waste, as these packing materials were lighter in weight.

The report stated the Defence Research and Development Establishment, Gwalior had developed an innovative technology for the disposal of human waste in an eco-friendly manner at locations where temperature dropped to -40 degree celsius or lower.

Sixty such units were currently operational at various locations. More such bio-digesters with better efficiency were being issued to all posts in high altitude areas.

The report dealt with environmental issues and waste management in the armed forces, as well as the ecology of the Siachen glacier. It was in compliance to the NGT order February 11, 2020. It was uploaded the NGT site November 9.

Ban on firecrackers

Pollution caused by bursting crackers aggravated risks to the lives of people in the middle the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

This had prompted the governments of Odisha, Rajasthan, Sikkim, the Union territory of Chandigarh, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee and the Calcutta High Court to ban the sale and use of crackers, the NGT said November 9.

There was a need to issue directions for banning the sale and use of fire crackers from November 9-30 in areas where air quality was ‘poor’, ‘very poor’ and ‘severe’, the tribunal said.

The NGT also directed that the following measures be taken:

  • There will be a total ban against the sale or use of all kinds of fire crackers in the National Capital Region from the midnight of November 9-10 till the midnight of November 30-December 1, 2020. This will be reviewed later
  • The direction would also apply to all cities / towns in the country where the average of ambient air quality during November fell under the ‘poor’ category
  • Only green crackers were to be sold in cities / towns where air quality was ‘moderate’ or below. The timings for use and bursting of crackers was to be restricted to two hours during festivals like Diwali, Chatt, Gurpurab, Christmas and New Year’s Eve, as specified by the concerned states
  • If nothing was specified by the state, timings would be from 8 to 10 pm on Diwali and Gurpurab, 6 am to 8 am on Chatt and 11.55 pm to 12.30 am during Christmas and New Year’s Eve and not otherwise
  • At other places, bans / restrictions would be optional for authorities. But if there were more stringent measures under orders of the authorities, they would prevail
  • All states / Union territories / pollution control boards (PCB) / pollution control committees (PCC) should initiate special drives to contain air pollution from all sources, in view of potential aggravation of COVID-19
  • The chief secretary and director general of police (DGP) of all states / Union territories have to issue and circulate an appropriate order on these terms, with appropriate enforcement guidelines to all the district magistrates and superintendents of police, PCBs / PCCs
  • The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the state PCBs / PCCs should regularly monitor air quality during this period and upload data on their respective websites
  • CPCB should compile information on the subject, including the status of compliance of the NGT order from all the states / Union territories and file a consolidated report with data compiled till filing of the report, before the next date (December 1, 2020)
  • A copy of the order should be forwarded to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, CPCB, chief secretaries and DGPs, state PCBs / PCCs and district magistrates of all states / Union territories

Noida STPs

The rule of law must be enforced to prevent untreated sewage flowing into the irrigation canal in Noida’s Sector 137, the NGT said November 6.

It added that activities which caused sewage to flow into the canal must be stopped and compensation recovered for the violators.

One of the major reasons for discharge of untreated sewage was deficient sewage treatment plants (STP) in 95 high rise buildings in Noida, apart from such discharge at some other locations.

The counsel for Noida stated that only 57 societies had been inspected out of 95. The remaining societies were to be inspected. Action had been initiated wherever deficiencies had been found.

The counsel for the Delhi Jal Board stated that action had been taken on its part.

However, there was no response from the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) and the secretary, urban development, Uttar Pradesh, about action at Khoda Nagar Parishad, Makanpur.

The counsel for EDMC says that there was a proposal to shift the dairies at the location that caused the sewage discharge. But it was not possible in the absence of land.

The NGT expressed its dissatisfaction at the stand of the EDMC.

The bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Sheo Kumar Singh directed that action against “erring high-rise buildings in Noida” must be taken expeditiously.

Compensation assessed by a joint Committee of the CPCB, Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board, Noida and the district magistrate of Noida was to given within three months, they added.

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