Down To Earth brings you the top environmental cases heard in the Supreme Court, the high courts and the National Green Tribunal
Housing project violations
Serious and repeated violations of environmental norms by housing projects have been reported in Haryana, the Bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Sonam Phintso Wangdi of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) said October 5, 2020.
The court was looking at the violation of conditions of Environmental Clearance (EC) and the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, by the housing project Vesta Heights in Faridabad’s Baselwa village.
The Consent to Operate under the Water Act, 1974 had expired in March 2018. The sewage treatment plant was not adequate and overflow was being discharged into the Agra Canal.
The report of the joint committee comprising the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) assessed compensation of Rs 120,280,310.
The NGT expressed its dissatisfaction with the report, saying it did not show adequate action for compliance of environmental norms.
The amount of compensation had not yet been recovered, coercive measures were not taken and the order of blacklisting was not carried out — even when the State Pollution Control Board (PCB) had written to the director, town and country planning department, Haryana — the NGT said in its October 1 order.
The Tribunal directed that a meeting of statutory authorities concerned be held within a month and monitored by the chief secretary, Haryana.
Housing project affects river flow
The NGT October 1 took up the matter of Omaxe Chandigarh Extension Developers Pvt Ltd setting up a residential complex project ‘The Lake’. The project was allegedly obstructing the natural flow of river Sisvan by filling up and closing a part of it in village Bharoujian. It reportedly diverted it to another place in nearby village Kansala in Mohali.
The applicant had showed, through Google photographs, a rivulet in 2003 and a road that had been constructed without making any culvert to maintain the natural flow of the river. This had resulted in flooding.
The report by Punjab acknowledged the violations; the NGT March 3 directed that steps be taken to stop the diversion of the river, filling up of the river and removing illegal constructions. But a report filed by the chief engineer, state Water Resources Department, said there was no obstruction in the natural flow of the river.
This was disputed by the applicant, who said the report did not show compliance with the NGT orders. The statement, saying the flow of the river was not obstructed, was not adequate and was in conflict with the earlier reports referred to in the NGT order March 3, according to the applicant.
It was also pointed out that the matter had been dealt with only by the executive engineer of the Water Resources Department, without involvement of other concerned departments, including Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA), Housing and Urban Development Department, the Environment Department and the Irrigation Department.
The NGT directed the Chief Secretary, Punjab, to call a meeting of the departments concerned: the GMADA, the Housing and Urban Development Department, the Irrigation Department and the Environment Department within one month to look into the matter. It directed the authorities to take remedial action and furnish a report within three months.
BMCs and PBRs in Arunachal Pradesh
Arunachal Pradesh submitted its report to the NGT on the constitution of Biodiversity Management Committees (BMC) and preparation of People’s Biodiversity Registers (PBR) in all local bodies in accordance with the Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
The state informed the NGT that the state has achieved 100 per cent compliance to the NGT order of August 9, 2019, for constituting BMCs and PBRs. The total of 1806 BMCs and PBRs were constituted. The state requested the court that the penalty imposed on Arunachal Pradesh with effect from February 1, 2020 be waived off.
Oil spill at Chandrapura Thermal Power Station
The committee constituted to look into the oil leakage at Chandrapura Thermal Power Station (CTPS) in Jharkhhand’s Chandrapura submitted its report to the NGT September 29. The team was to assess the extent of oil leakage and assessment of environmental damage caused by the oil spill.
The leakage occurred on October 15, 2019, when the oil was being unloaded at CTPS site. The connecting pipe developed a crack, causing the leak. It ingressed into the nearby drainage system constructed to collect storm water and drained into river Damodar.
The spilled oil was collected from the drainage channel and river and stored in oil drums. Fly ash was also used to soak spilled oil to control spillage of oil.
The committee visited the affected areas and said there was hardly any sign of released hydrocarbon. It added there was no sign of environmental damages to the nearby agricultural field either.
The report stated that fuel oil was considered to be less toxic and the long-term effects needed an extended in-depth study.
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