Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (September 18, 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: Friday 18 September 2020

Environmental impact of ship breaking at Alang

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) filed a report before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on the environmental impact of ship-breaking methods at Gujarat’s Alang. The September 17, 2020 report was in compliance with an August 19, 2019 NGT order.

The court directed the MoEF&CC to conduct an audit to ascertain environmental impact due to the beaching method and ship-breaking method used at Alang Ship Recycling Yard and to verify the compliance of the coastal regulation zone (CRZ) notification.

In response to the NGT order, the MoEFC&CC asked the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) to conduct the audit. The NIO submitted its Marine environmental monitoring and verification for compliance of CRZ Notification at Alang Ship Recycling Yard report.

The report was based on the study conducted during February-March to meet the following three objectives:

  • To evolve prevailing status of water quality, sediment quality and flora and fauna of project area
  • To assess the impact of pollution due to ship breaking activities on the coastal ecology of Alang
  • To assess the compliance of CRZ notification

The report said, in general, the ecology of coastal water of Alang was similar to that of the surrounding area of Bhavnagar and Dahej. It compared well with earlier studies of 2007-08 in Alang area.

The adverse impact of ship-breaking activities on water quality, sediment quality and biological characteristics was not significant, except a certain intertidal region showing high concentration of petroleum hydrocarbons (PHC) and some metals.

Phytoplankton and zooplankton values showed natural variability and were not influenced by ship breaking activities. Influence of ship-breaking activities on intertidal macrobenthic fauna resulting in poor standing stock, was localised at Alang. The results of bio-accumulation suggested concentration of all metals was within the specified values for human consumption, except iron.

The report recommended long-term monitoring to confirm the impact of ship-breaking activities on the ecology of Alang. It noted there was significant improvement in ship-recycling yards with respect to safety, security, health and environment. The living area of most of the ship-breaking workers, however, was poor with respect to infrastructure and sanitisation.

Although, around 70 per cent recycling yards adopted Hong Kong Convention compliance to get green category certificates, many yards needed upgrades to curtail pollution and enhance security.

Illegal mining of dolomite

The NGT September 16 directed recommendations contained in the Central Pollution Control Board report on preventing damage due to mining dolomite at Dundu village at Pithoragarh district in Uttarakhand be acted upon.

The report recommended:

  • No mining operations till there was compliance of prescribed environmental norms and guidelines
  • Carrying out geo-referenced drone survey of the lease area and its surrounding affected area due to spillage of material from mine
  • Take all appropriate immediate actions to arrest / trap material from rolling down / flowing away outside lease area by gravity, rain or otherwise
  • Give undertaking that waste material / muck will not be dumped outside the mining lease area in future

Buildings near HTL in Ashwathnagara, Bangalore

A report was filed by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) on illegal buildings under / near high-tension lines in Bengaluru’s Ashwathnagara area. The report said high-tension lines were across two roads in the western and eastern sides of Thanisandra at Ashwathnagara area.

Along these roads, under high-tension lines, a number of houses, shops and sheds existed. Many of these buildings were constructed before the inclusion of this area to BBMP, that is, on January 2007.

Houses / shops / sheds in these properties did not have sanctioned plans either. Some buildings came up after the area was included under BBMP, without any plan sanctions due to non-availability of khata (account) certificates. These houses / shops / sheds — treated as unlawful buildings — had power supply provided by Bangalore Electricity Supply Co (BESCOM) Ltd.

The executive engineer of BESCOM’s Shivajinagar division, Bengaluru was requested to take immediate and urgent steps in implementing Central Electricity Authority (Measures relating to safety and electric supply) Regulations, 2010 and report back. This was for BBMP to take notice of removal of hutments and public buildings that existed below the high-tension lines, the report said.

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