Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (September 2, 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: Wednesday 02 September 2020

Groundwater contamination

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed the Ashapura Group of Companies to complete the work of remediation for contamination of ground water and soil in Ler village of Gujarat’s Kutch district, within a period of three months. The contamination had occurred on account of storage of gypsum.

The work would be overseen by a joint committee of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB). The committee would undertake periodical checks and monitor the remedial measures.

The GPCB, in its report of July 28, 2020, informed the NGT about the status of compliance based on inspection conducted on July 21.

Out of 39 locations, waste gypsum had been lifted from 26 locations. The remaining 13 locations were still occupied with waste gypsum. Of these 13 locations, the company had started plantation on two locations according to the recommendation of Gujarat Industrial and Technical Consultancy Organisation Ltd (GITCO).

The company has disposed 101,742 MT of gypsum waste to cement industries for co-processing and 42,271 MT for the back filling to abandoned mines between January 1, 2019 and July 21, 2020.

The report also mentioned the status of groundwater contamination and restoration. The company was using fresh lime to neutralise the ammoniacal nitrogen that had contaminated groundwater.

The district-level compensation committee (constituted in accordance with the order of the Gujarat High Court) had assessed a compensation of Rs 31.65 lakh and the matter had been forwarded to the principal district judge, Kutch, at Bhuj on July 15, 2020, for further action.

However, GPCB had recovered Rs 9,750,000 as environmental damage compensation on June 18, 2019 and the Ashapura Group of Companies had given a bank guarantee of Rs 15 lakh on May 2, 2019.

Wastewater effluent discharge 

An application was filed by Gurmail Singh, a resident of Kot Khurd village in Jalandhar district of Punjab before the NGT, complaining that the entire waste water / effluent of the village was being discharged directly into the pond adjacent to his house.

The officer of the state Panchayati Raj Department revealed that the pond near the complainant's house was quite old and Gurmail Singh had constructed his house near the pond.

This was stated in the report filed by the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) on September 1 before the NGT.

The Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj will make necessary arrangements to treat the entire waste water and effluent of the village. The discharge of waste water into the pond near Singh’s house will be stopped within three months.

The soil and water conservation department will prepare and implement a scheme to utiliss the village’s waste water for irrigation. The district development panchayat officer, Jalandhar will coordinate with all concerned departments and the Kot Khurd sarpanch to complete the works well within the scheduled time.

Agra Canal garbage

The garbage and sewage dumped on the banks of the Uttar Pradesh — Agra Canal in front of Modern Delhi Public School, Sector 87, Faridabad was cleared, along with all the encroachments.

This was stated in the report filed before the NGT by the deputy commissioner, Faridabad Municipal Corporation and Haryana State Pollution Control Board.

Kharicut Canal pollution

The NGT has directed the joint committee of the CPCB and GPCB to initiate action against errant officers responsible for pollution in the Kharicut canal in Gujarat’s Kheda district.

The municipal commissioner must initiate action against the officers and take immediate further remedial action by preparing a time-bound action plan that has to be furnished to the GPCB within one month.

This would be overseen by the secretary, urban development, Gujarat. A compliance report has to be furnished within two months by the GPCB and secretary.

The issue for consideration before the NGT was the steps to be taken for controlling untreated industrial effluents discharged in the Kharicut Canal, that is a tributary of the Khari river.

According to the applicants, the said river is the source of irrigation and drinking of water by animals. Illegal borewells were said to have been dug without permission of the GPCB, affecting the water level.

Sewage from sewage treatment plants (STP) set up by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) was flowing into the river.

The GPCB, in its report of August 13, stated that when the monitoring of the Kharicut Canal stretch from GIDC Naroda to GIDC Vatva was carried out on February 18, it was observed that untreated domestic waste water was being discharged in to the canal at different locations. 

Also, many outlets have been created by the AMC for discharge of untreated domestic waste water and storm water discharge.

The NGT noted that serious violation of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 was taking place.

“Action initiated by the State PCB so far is highly inadequate. Neither compensation for the damage to the environment has been assessed and recovered nor prosecution initiated,” the NGT said. 

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