Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (September 23, 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 23 September 2020

Biodiversity conservation

Manipur had been making all necessary efforts to fully comply with the mandate of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 and the Rules framed under it, the Manipur Biodiversity Board said in its report to the National Green Tribunal (NGT).

The Board had proposed to constitute 2,282 Biodiversity Management Committees (BMC) across the state at all levels. Of these, 1,908 BMCs had already been constituted. Only about 374 BMCs were yet to be constituted.

The delay in the completion of BMC constitution was mainly due to inaccessibility of the villages due to difficult terrain, refusal of villagers to constitute BMCs and the restrictions imposed in the state in connection with the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The mandatory preparation of People’s Biodiversity Registers (PBR) for each of the BMCs constituted would incur huge expenditure and the Manipur Biodiversity Board was not likely to receive funds from the government of Manipur and other sources, owing to acute financial constraints in the state.

The Manipur Biodiversity Board was now working with a new, modified target of preparing 199 PBRs.

Stone crusher

The NGT dismissed the application filed by Salim Stone Crusher against the order of July 22 passed by the director, Regional Mines and Geology, Haryana. The order had cancelled the licence granted to the applicant under the provisions of the Haryana Regulation and Control of Stone Crusher Act, 1991.

The applicant had also appealed against the order of March 13 passed by the Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB), assessing a compensation of Rs 34,37,500 towards environmental compensation for illegal mining.

The NGT ruled that the order of the Regional Mines and Geology, Haryana, could not be challenged before it. The stone crusher had also procured minerals from illegal sources, which represented illegal mining, for which FIRs had been lodged, it added.

The stone crusher ahd been sealed by the HSPCB but the operators broke open the seal. The NGT noted that the stone crusher owner was unable to explain the source of mineral used.

Mandi forest land

An affidavit was filed before the NGT about the illegal and unauthorised activities over the government ‘waste land’ (which is a protected forest), Mandi, Himachal Pradesh.

The encroachments had caused obstruction / blockage of rain water and had also exposed public roads, public property and property of local villagers falling to imminent danger of landslides.

No action had been action by the administration despite repeated complaints. This showed the total disinclination of the administration, especially the forest department, Mandi, to take action in accordance with law, the affidavit filed by Sunder Singh stated.

Ramban municipal committee 

The NGT September 22 directed the municipal committee Ramban to pay half of the compensation amount imposed on it by the Jammu and Kashmir Pollution Control Board within six months in two installments. The court warned the municipality to maintain due vigil in maintaining environmental norms.

The Jammu and Kashmir Pollution Control Board, through its order July 8, had assessed the compensation — on the basis of the polluter pay principle against the municipal committee for not taking the necessary steps to prevent unscientific dumping of waste, resulting in damage to the environment.

The NGT ruled it was undisputed that damage to the environment had taken place in violation of constitutional duty of the local body to take preventive measures in the matter.

However, having regard to the plea of the coronavirus pandemic and financial constraints faced by the municipal committee, the court allowed the amount of compensation to be reduced to 50 per cent.

Waterbody encroachment

The dumping of garbage and encroachment of a pond in the Pratap Pur area of Haryana’s Rewari district was taken by the NGT September 22.

A report was filed by the HSPCB to the effect that site inspection was conducted on November 20, 2019, along with the representatives of the municipal council. Remedial action had been taken and show cause notice issued to the municipal council for further action.

The NGT, taking into account the report, directed that further action be taken in accordance with law and vigil maintained to prevent violation of environmental law.

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