Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (October 22, 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: Thursday 22 October 2020

Gunjawani Irrigation Project

National Green Tribunal (NGT) October 20, 2020 directed that a team comprising the collector, Pune, and Maharashtra State Pollution Control Board, be constituted to look into why people affected by Gunjawani Irrigation Project in Pune were not rehabilitated. 

The affected persons had filed an application with the NGT against the project. It stated that directions issued for rehabilitation were not complied with and Maharashtra, even four years after the project started, did not fulfil the pre-condition of granting environmental clearance to the project.

The team has to submit a report within six weeks. The matter would be listed again for January 20, 2021.

Turtles nesting beaches of Goa

The NGT has directed removal of unauthorised constructions on the beaches of Goa before the turtle nesting season begins. It asked the state authorities to keep the beach areas fenced in order to them pristine and undisturbed during turtle nesting season that starts in November-December and continues till March-April.

The order came in the wake of an application filed by Victor Fernandes against the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA) order February 11, 2020. The GCZMA order directed demolition of an illegal structure constructed by Rai Resort in a no-development zone of Ashvem Mandrem. A penalty of Rs one lakh was imposed on the resort.

The NGT, while dismissing the appeal, said some beaches are preferred by the sea turtles, particularly Olive Ridleys, for laying their eggs. Therefore, efforts must be made by the authorities concerned to keep such beaches undisturbed and in pristine condition.

No structures — temporary or permanent — should be erected on such beaches and no artificial lighting or food articles be thrown around, the NGT order read. 

Illegal drinking water units in Maharashtra

The NGT directed the chief secretary, Maharashtra, to clarify as to how more than a 100 illegal manufacturing plants, units of drinking water jars and cans were operating in the state without any permission from the competent authorities.

It asked the chief secretary to ensure that all units, which have no authority from the Central Ground Water Authority or NOC from the competent authority, be sealed immediately and legal / penal action be initiated.  

The Chief Secretary was further directed to take remedial measures to check, identify and regulate the functioning of these units.
The NGT was hearing the appeal filed by Vijaysinh Dubbal against these illegal drinking water units. 

The NGT also passed a number of directions: 

  • In the absence of a no-objection certificate from Central Ground Water Authority, no extraction of underground water should be permitted
  • The industries / units drying underground water every day with no obligation of recharge / rainwater harvesting must be stopped immediately. The industries / units must be asked to take rational measures for recharge of the underground water / rainwater harvesting with due regard to the amount of underground drawn by it in the last more than four years
  • The industries / units must be asked and show cause notice be issued to pay compensation for illegal withdrawal of underground water for last so many years
  • The amount payable by the unit for withdrawal of underground water must be fixed on the principle ‘more the withdrawal higher the rates.’ The charge which has not been paid for years must be recovered with interest at the rate of 12 per cent per annum
  • The norms for recharge of underground water and rainwater harvesting must be fixed. Flow meter must be calibrated by government agencies and verified at least twice in a year
  • The unit encroaching upon the drains or diverting the untreated water into the drains must be asked to clear the encroachments and to ensure that no untreated water should be discharged into the municipal drains and to ensure the free flow of the natural course of water
  • Actual requirement and use of underground water by the unit must be verified through independent government agencies
    All industries / units must be asked to maintain verifiable records of ETP waste and other solid waste generated from their units
  • Central Ground Water Authority and Central Pollution Control Board has to lay down a parameter of quality of water which are being supplied in bottles to the people and further to take necessary action in case it was not found of the standard quality

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