Down To Earth brings you the top environmental cases heard in the Supreme Court, the high courts and the National Green Tribunal
Platinum AAC Blocks
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) September 14, 2020, directed the order passed by the Pollution Control Committee (PCC) of Daman Diu and Dadra Nagar Haveli ordering the closure of Platinum AAC Blocks Pvt Ltd to be set aside.
A copy of the NGT order should be forwarded to the advisor to the Union Territory of Daman Diu and Dadra Nagar Haveli to consider taking remedial action against the erring PCC officer for passing such an ‘absurd order’, the bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Sonam Phintso Wangdi directed.
The PCC order overreached the orders of the NGT and was against the interests of the environment, the bench added.
The NGT order came in the wake of an appeal filed by Platinum AAC Blocks Pvt Ltd against the order passed by the PCC February 3.
According to a notification dated October 9, 2015 and applicable to Dadra and Nagar Haveli, the export, transport and disposal facilities for fly ash were banned. Therefore, manufacturing of autoclaved aerated concrete using fly ash could not allowed, the PCC order had said.
The unit was transporting fly ash and manufacturing fly ash bricks using fuel.
Fly ash export, transport and disposal facilities as well as fly ash bricks manufacturing using fuel, both fell under the Green Category of industries, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had said in its report to the NGT July 16.
The PCC was also yet to harmonise the categorisation of industries in compliance with modified directions issued by the CPCB vide a letter sent March 7, 2016, under Section 18(1)(b).
Thus, any consideration about admissibility of the consent to the unit had to be viewed based on harmonisation of industries by PCC. The violations with respect to consent to establish and consent to operate by the unit had to be dealt by PCC in accordance with provisions of relevant Acts and Rules.
The NGT directed the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) to submit a report on the land use land cover mapping (LULC) falling under the Natural Conservation Zone (NCZ) by January 31, 2021.
The issue for consideration was safeguarding of land use falling under NCZ in terms of the regional plan prepared by the National Capital Region Planning Board (NCRPB) under the provision of National Capital Region Planning Board Act, 1985.
The MoEF&CC, in its report dated September 9, recommended that the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) should do LULC mapping using LISS III data (resolution 23.5 m) on a scale of 1:50,000 for the two time periods of 1999 and 2019. The classification scheme of the mapping were to be selected in a manner that natural conservation areas were explicitly mapped.
Due emphasis had to be placed on ground truthing before the final output of the exercise was finalised. If required, NRSC could obtain thematic spatial data relevant for identifying NCZs in NCRPB from the concerned organisations.
The two comparable output datasets resulting from the same satellite data (sensor), scale and methodology, would lead to a realistic assessment of the status of NCZ — how it had changed over the two time periods (1999 and 2019).
The area under NCRPB had undergone change over a period of time in all the constituent states as more districts had been added to it. For the sake of uniformity, the report was of the view that the present boundary defining NCRPB should be used for both the years — 1999 and 2019.
It was also said that LULC mapping on the 1:50,000 scale would serve the purpose of comparison of change in NCZ between 1999 and 2019, based on the identical set of outputs.
However, to facilitate appropriate planning and regulations by the concerned state governments, it would be desirable to have another LULC mapping of the area under NCRPB done on 1:10,000 scale for 2019, using high resolution satellite data of LISS-IV, CARTOSAT or other satellite / sensor that NRSC felt was appropriate for the purpose.
The above two mapping exercises were to be taken up simultaneously as two separate series of mapping by NRSC.
The counsel for the applicant had submitted that the scale of the map should be 1:4000 and not 1:10,000 so that all relevant details could be captured. It was also suggested that apart from the satellite mapping, physical ground truthing should also be undertaken.
The NGT directed the MoEF&CC to furnish a report taking into consideration all the above aspects.
Illegal dyeing factories
The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) inspected around 79 premises / units engaged in dyeing and washing jeans in Bawana, Narela, Mayapuri, Libaspur and Nangli Sakrawat during the months of July, August and September 2020. This was mentioned in the report filed by the DPCC before the NGT.
Of the 79 units, 48 units engaged in the activity of dyeing / washing of jeans and garments had valid consent and functional effluent treatment plants in the premises.
One unit, out of 48, that was found non-compliant during an earlier inspection, had deposited environmental damage compensation (EDC) of Rs 1,240,000 and DPCC had also granted consent to operate (CTO) to this unit located in the Bawana Industrial area.
Twelve units were found operating without CTO and without functional effluent treatment plants. However, these units had applied for getting CTO. All these units have been closed down. Of these 12 units, EDC to the tune of Rs 22,000,000 had been imposed on five units.
Of the remaining seven units out of 12, show cause notices for imposition of environmental compensation had been issued and proceedings were under progress.
In the remaining 19 premises, out of 79 premises inspected, no industrial activity was observed during inspection, the report added.
The NGT September 14 disposed of the case, taking into account the DPCC report and said that no further orders were necessary.
The NGT September 15 directed the constitution of a Joint Committee comprising of the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board, the district magistrate of Bijnor and the municipal council of Noorpur to furnish a factual and action-taken report on the ‘unscientific dumping’ of waste on the main road of Changipur village in Bijnor district by the municipal council of Noorpur.
The waste included carcasses that had resulted in foul odour and also air and land pollution. In spite of representations made to the municipal council, no remedial action had been taken, the complainant, Arvind Kumar said.
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