Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (October 23, 2019)

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 23 October 2019
Photo: Getty Images

Stay on trees-felling in Aarey

The Supreme Court (SC) on October 21, 2019 extended the status quo prohibiting cutting of trees in Aarey colony for constructing a car shed for Mumbai metro till the next date of hearing, which is on November 15, 2019.

Tushar Mehta, the Solicitor General appearing on behalf of the Municipal Corporation, Mumbai, has prayed for time to submit response to the petitions, which have been filed.

The SC, had, asked for information on what other activities are proposed in Aarey forest area, whether there was any project of construction of the building in the offing, or has been sanctioned. Likewise, the court also asked the counsel for Mumbai Metro to submit photographs of the trees and number of surviving trees, which were planted two years ago, the girth and height of the trees.

The information has to be submitted in the form of an affidavit, which would also state the survival rate of the transplanted trees and how many have survived till date.

Mehta informed the SC that no more trees have been cut in the Aarey Colony.

Polluted waterbodies in Bengaluru

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on October 21 expressed its unhappiness at the reports furnished by Karnataka government on polluted waterbodies in Bengaluru.

The waterbodies — Bellandur lake, Agara lake and Varthur lake — were being polluted due to discharge of untreated sewage and other effluents from residential/commercial/industrial buildings. The issue was being monitored by the NGT in the last five years by way of different orders.

The court noted:

  • The report furnished lacked information on the status of sewage treatment plants to be constructed
  • It showed that Bellandur lake area has yet not been fenced to prevent encroachments
  • The illegal colony in the lake belt has not been shifted and CCTV cameras and watch towers have not been installed
  • De-silting and de-weeding has not been done as directed
  • Road was illegally constructed within the lake by dumping construction and demolition debris, which has not been removed.
  • Non-compliance with regard to deposit of Rs 25 crores by Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and furnishing of performance guarantee in the sum of Rs 100 crores by Karnataka government for which there is no explanation

The NGT directed that these deficiencies have to be rectified and compliance ensured in terms of its order of December 6, 2018.

It also directed the additional chief secretary (Urban Development), Karnataka along with the commissioner of BBMP and other concerned authorities to remain present before the tribunal on the next date of hearing.

Guru Ravidas Temple to be reconstructed

The SC on October 21 gave directions for the reconstruction of the Guru Ravidas temple in Delhi which was demolished for being in forest area.

The Government of India had come up with the offer of 400 square metres of land for constructing the temple. It includes an area of worship, enclosed in a boundary fence covering 400 sq mts and no encroachment outside the boundaries.

Further, the Sant Ravidas pond has to be restored and “maintenance of the site, in pristine form, free of pollution and consistent with environmental safeguards will be the duty of the licensee,” read the offer.

The apex court found the offer reasonable and directed that a committee of the devotees be constituted by the Centre.

The temple would be constructed by the committee to be constituted within six weeks. The order also restrained all commercial activities like parking of trucks in the aforesaid area.

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