Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (October 16, 2023)

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 16 October 2023

Danger of sea-level rise to low-lying islands of India 

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) September 13, 2023 directed notice to be issued to the coastal management authorities of all the coastal states and Union territories of India. The court was deliberating on the issue of dangers faced by low-lying islands due to sea-level rise.

A memo of parties should be prepared by the registry of the NGT which would include the coastal management authorities of all the coastal states, UTs, the Secretary of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Secretary of the Union Ministry of Earth Science and the Secretary of the Island Development Authority. The next hearing of the case has been listed for January 8, 2024.

In pursuance to the previous directions of the court, the joint committee had filed a report dated October 10, 2023. The report reflected that there was a rise in the water level of the sea and the areas of the islands are getting submerged because of the said rise. The report also suggested policies and measures to protect the islands.

The NGT September 13 took note of the fact that in the notification dated January 18, 2019 issued by the MoEF&CC, it was provided that Integrated Island Management Plans (IIMP) will be formulated by the respective states / UTs for the concerned islands.

The earlier notification dated January 6, 2011 was issued for preparation of an IIMP for Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep. The suggestions incorporated in the report October 10, 2023 need to be looked into for preparation / amendment of the IIMP, the court noted.

Ganga floodplain encroachment

Defining the floodplain zones of River Ganga and its tributaries and action against the unauthorised construction within the prohibited limits in the state of Uttar Pradesh was taken up by NGT, September 16.

Counsel for the state has submitted that a compilation of all the relevant orders of the High Court especially those wherein the limits restricting the constructions from the river bank of Ganga have been provided and specified would be prepared.

The court listed the matter for January 10, 2024 and said as the matters have been pending since long, if any of the parties has died and if there is change in status of parties, then a proper application needs to be filed before the next date of hearing.

Abandoned brick kiln pits posing danger to life, Muzaffarnagar district

NGT September 13, 2023 directed the constitution of a three-member committee to look into the matter of abandoned brick kiln pits in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh posing safety issues to the people.

The committee will visit the site and find out the factual position and also suggest remedial measures. The report has to be submitted before the next date of hearing, January 5, 2024, the tribunal ordered.

According to the applicant, brick kiln owners in an area in Muzaffarnagar district have done illegal mining of earth from the nearby agricultural fields by digging pits 15-20 feet in length and thereafter, the pits were abandoned. 

Those abandoned pits got filled up during the rainfall and five children had died after accidentally entering the pits filled with the rain water and mud.

Operation of factories in residential areas of Delhi

On the matter of illegal operation of factories in residential areas of Delhi and the dangers associated with it, NGT directed a notice to be issued to the secretary, environment, National Capital Territory of Delhi. A notice was also issued to the member secretary, Delhi Pollution Control Committee; district magistrate, East Delhi; commissioner, Municipal Corporation Delhi, among others.

The original application involved the issue of death of two factory workers and injuries to two others in an explosion in a compressor at a plastic molding factory in Delhi’s Gokulpuri area. 

A status report on behalf of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee has been filed, which confirmed the newspaper report about the deaths of two persons and injury to other persons in the accident.

The report does not reflect that any compensation has been paid to the deceased as well as the injured person, the court noted.

With regard to closure of the illegal units from the residential / non-conforming areas, the Supreme Court passed an order on May 7, 2004 in WP (C) No 4677 of 1985 (MC Mehta Vs Union of India & Others). 

As per the order, all industrial units that have come up in residential / non-conforming areas in Delhi on or after August 1, 1990 shall close down.

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