Down To Earth brings you the top environmental cases heard in the Supreme Court, the high courts and the National Green Tribunal
Wild Ass Sanctuary
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) September 23, 2020 directed that Gujarat must ensure no illegal encroachment in Wild Ass Sanctuary in the Little Rann of Kutch. No grant of lease should be given in the said sanctuary area without consent of the standing committee of the National Board of Wildlife and from the Forest and Environment Department, Gujarat, Justice Sheo Kumar Singh said.
The tribunal said no activities must be permitted within the radius of 10 kilometers.
Katiya Haidarali Ahmadbhai alleged before the NGT that fishing was getting badly affected due to illegal encroachments.
He claimed that thousands of illegal salt industries were running within 10 kms radius of the sanctuary. Rivers flowing in the area were blocked due to construction of roads / ‘para’ in the sanctuary area and mangroves and sea plants destroyed.
The chief secretary, Government of Punjab, submitted a report to the NGT on the alleged illegal operation of the industry Ajay Gelatine Products Pvt Ltd in Zirakpur, Sahibzada Ajit Singh Nagar.
The complaint alleged that the industry had been functioning for 28 years without consent to operate.
The Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) in its report had said the industrial unit in question came into existence in 1986 in the revenue estate of village Nagla, tehsil Dera Bassi. At that time, no specific guidelines were framed by the SPCB for the establishment of such units. Therefore, no-objection certificate with respect to pollution was granted to the industrial unit.
At that time, Zirakpur was a small village but was later declared and notified as a municipal area. Municipal Council Zirakpur came into existence in 2001, nearly 15 years after the establishment of the industrial unit.
Subsequently, the Master Plan of Zirakpur was notified on November 13, 2009 by the Department of Town and Country Planning, and an area in village Nagla, wherein the industry is situated, was demarcated as a residential zone. The industry was spot zoned in the revised master plan of Zirakpur by the district town planner, SAS Nagar.
Therefore, no illegality was observed with respect to the operation of the industry.
The report added that the distance between the industrial unit and the group housing project (Escon Arena) was more than 100 meters. The industry was also granted consent to operate on January 28, 2019, after it installed the necessary effluent treatment plant and air pollution control device, as well as arranged for the disposal of the treated effluent onto land for plantation and irrigation.
The effluent / stack emission sampling was carried out, which revealed that the industry achieved effluent and stack emission targets. However, to control foul odour, the PPCB asked the industry to take requisite remedial measures.
The industry had deposited an amount of Rs 5.8 lakh on March 11 against environmental compensation in compliance with the direction of the PPCB.
Coastal shrimp farms
In response to an application filed against illegal coastal shrimp farms in Surat, Gujarat, the NGT September 22 directed that a notice be issued to the following respondents:
The respondents have been directed to reply within six weeks and the matter has been listed for January 7, 2021.
The application stated that there was commercial illegal coastal shrimp farms on the floodplains and within the coastal regulation zone areas along the Tapi and Mindhola river and in several villages.
The State Environment Impact Assessment Authority, Maharashtra and Maharashtra Pollution Control Board filed a report before the NGT September 23 stating that Prayeja City I and Prayeja City II in Pune were two different projects and the project proponent had carried out construction activity for Prayega City I without taking prior environmental clearance.
Consent to establish and consent to operate under Water Act 1974 and Air Act, 1981 was also not obtained, the report said.
Four bore wells were found on the site, out of which two were used for rainwater harvesting and the remaining by the residents for non-domestic purpose. No NOC from Central Ground Water Authority was obtained for the extraction of ground water. The PP was not able to show the ground water test report and no dry waste segregation was seen in the premises.
The PP had developed the project as per the approvals by the Pune Municipal Corporation and had provided required open spaces, the report added.
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