Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (October 13, 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 13 October 2020

EPR under PWM Rules 2016

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has received around 160 comments from various stakeholders and organisations on the guidelines document for Uniform Framework for Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR) under Plastic Waste Management Rules (PWM Rules), 2016.

The comments were received from Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, organisations working in the area of waste management, industry, industry associations, civil society organisations and citizens.

These comments are currently being compiled and reviewed by the MoEF&CC. Subsequently, the EPR framework would be finalised.

Some of the features included in the document for Uniform Framework for Extended Producers Responsibility are:

  • The EPR should be brand-neutral and geography-neutral
  • Penalties should be imposed on the producer / importer / brand owner for the portion of waste not collected against the targeted collection. The fees would be used for creating infrastructure for plastic waste management
  • The uniform framework for EPR consists of three models for the producers / importers / brand owners for selection of mechanism under which they want to implement the EPR

The guidelines provide for the following three models:

  • Fee-based model
  • PRO-based model
  • Plastic-credit Model

While adopting any one of the models or both the models at the same time, the producers / importers and brand owners need to register themselves at the national registry.

This was stated in the action taken report by the MoEF&CC in the matter of original application No. 29/2020 (Avani Mishra Vs Union of India), uploaded to the NGT site October 12, 2020.

Plastic waste management rules

The CPCB has asked the states / Union territories (UTs) to set up an institutional mechanism for taking necessary steps to tackle the problem of littering and plastic waste. Around 615 unregistered plastic units have been reported in 25 states and UTs.

Special environmental squads have been set up in 22 states / UTs to oversee and ensure that no litter of plastic waste takes place at public places as well as dumping of plastic waste in drains, rivers, banks and sea.

The regime for levying environmental compensation (EC) for violation of plastic waste management rules has been framed by the CPCB and the same would be revisited, if required, after finalisation of EPR framework by MoEF&CC.

Compliance reports submitted by the 25 states and UTs to the CPCB said the production of carry bags and plastic sheets of thickness of less than 50 micron had been banned.

These were some of the points mentioned in the October 12 CPCB report submitted to the NGT.

Laterite mining

The western Bench of the NGT transferred the case of laterite stone mining in Goa to the Principal Bench of the tribunal. Justice Sheo Kumar Singh said this would help fix the quantum of environmental compensation and help the authorities concerned to adopt a fixed parameter.

The case related to illegal mining of laterite stone extraction in Goa. The state authorities had proposed environmental compensation of Rs 25,000, saying that there was no parameter for calculation of environmental compensation in the laterite stone extraction matter.

Justice Singh said if laterite stone extraction was continued without any consent to operate and without legal permission and calculation of EC to the tune of Rs 25,000 was proceeded, it would act as an indirect permission.

The NGT said the tribunal was “not meant to legalise the illegalities and this is not the way either to recover the environmental compensation or to measure for prevention of illegal mining and laterite stone extraction.”

Canacona National Highway Bypass

The project proponent responsible for the construction of Canacona National Highway Bypass had planted mangroves on National Highway-17. This was one of the conditions given in the no-objection certificate September 1, 2019.

The Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA) said since one section of the project was within 300-500 metres from the turtle nesting site, a no-horn zone was imposed while granting permission. This was partially complied with by planting mangroves.

The affidavit-in-reply by the GCZMA was in response to the following objections raised by Dattaprasad Prabhu Goankar before the NGT:

  • Non-compliance of conditions in coastal zone regulation (CRZ) September 28, 2015 granted for construction of Canacona National Highway Bypass on National Highway-17. This involved construction of three bridges over Talpona river, Galgibag river and Maxim creek
  • Non-compliance of conditions in NOC September 1, 2017 granted by the GCZMA for felling of mangroves and putting up of sound and light barriers on Mashem bridge
  • Non-compliance of conditions in NOC April 30, 2019 granted by the GCZMA for temporary earth filling in Galpibag river

The report by GCZMA informed the NGT that the project was completed November 29, 2019.

The GCZMA had been continuously monitoring the work of the construction of Mashem Bridge. The project proponent had removed the mud which was put to facilitate the construction of the bridge.

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