Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (September 18, 2023)

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: Monday 18 September 2023

Coal dumping in residential areas

The apex court directed Northern Coalfields Ltd and East Central Railway on September 15, 2023 to file an affidavit on the alleged dumping of coal near a residential area at Krishnashila railway siding, Sonbhadra district, Uttar Pradesh.

In early April 2023, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had directed Northern Coalfields to pay compensation of Rs 10 crore for violating environmental norms by dumping coal.

Coal is being dumped here without permission. It has accumulated through illegal transportation from coal fields.

Northern Coalfields was directed to file the latest aerial / satellite photographs of the area. The pollution level, monitored by Northern Coalfields (Bina Project) and the authorities, including the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board, must be placed on record, the court ordered.

In addition, East Central Railway should also indicate the steps they took to ensure coal is not stacked around the railway tracks and ambient air quality is maintained. Northern Coalfields was also directed to deposit Rs two crore with the authorities.

Defaulting stone-crushers

The Haryana State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) took actions such as closure, prosecution and imposition of environmental compensation against the defaulting stone-crushers, SPCB told NGT on September 18.

There are 343 stone-crushing units in the Charkhi Dadri district of Haryana. Of this, 40 stone crushers found non-complying with the provision under the Air Act, 1981 were shut down by the SPCB.

An environmental compensation of Rs 6 crore was imposed on 56 stone-crushing units. Of this, around Rs 4 crore was recovered by the SPCB from 44 units, HSPCB added. Nearly 239 units were operating with valid consent to operate, the report added.

Five continuous ambient air quality monitoring stations (CAAQMS) stations will be installed by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the report added.

After obtaining adequate AQI data from all crushing clusters / areas in the district, the operations in each cluster will be controlled based on the data. Further, an action plan will be prepared per data from the stations.

SPCB has not allowed any new stone crushing units or expanded existing units to date, as stipulated by a joint committee as well as NGT. 

The joint committee, in its report dated September 27, 2021 and the NGT order on November 15, 2021, prohibited new stone crushing units of any capacity and expansion of the existing units in the region.

Moreover, the district administration and the forest department of Haryana had conducted a special drive of plantation/distribution of 0.26 million trees in monsoon 2023, the report added.

Sugar mill flouts environmental norms

Despite issuing notice for closure, Titawi Sugar Mill in Titawi village, Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, continued to operate, the NGT noted on September 18.

The unit has been flouting environmental norms and recommendations made by a joint committee on January 31, 2023.

“The imposition of any environmental compensation is no remediation of environmental damage caused until the amount of environmental compensation is realised and utilised for remediation of the damaged caused,” said the NGT.

The tribunal directed the chief secretary of Uttar Pradesh, the district magistrate of Muzaffarnagar and Titawi Sugar Mill to file their response on the matter.

The tribunal also directed the personal appearance of the district magistrate, regional SPCB officer, Muzaffarnagar and general manager of the unit for the next hearing on October 10, 2023.

Titawi Sugar Mill has been discharging chemical wastewater and emitting fly ash, violating environmental norms and creating serious health hazards for the residents, according to an application.

The counsel for SPCB said an environmental compensation of about Rs 76.2 crore had been imposed on the project proponent vide order dated September 6, 2023.

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