Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (September 4, 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 04 September 2020

Badshahpur drain

The Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) in a September 3, 2020 report to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) said a concept plan was prepared to offset groundwater recharge affected due to concretisation of the Badshahpur drain.

The concept plan proposed to:

  • Arrest the run-off from areas beyond the Gurugram-Manesar Urban Complex Development Plan area by a multi-pronged approach creating check dams in hill sections and to channelise water into pond areas
  • Divert runoff from Badshahpur drain by constructing a drain along the southern peripheral road (SPR) through central peripheral road to reduce load on the drain and prevent flooding of the Hero Honda Chowk
  • Provide recharge wells along SPR

A comprehensive drainage plan — involving the creation of water-harvesting structures, recharge wells, pondage areas, channelisation of creeks and construction of Leg IV (an offshoot of Badshahpur drain from Sohna Road up to National Highway-48) — was proposed.

An annexure of the report included the action-taken report by the chief engineer of the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG).

The MCG report talked about pond rejuvenation. Around 26 live ponds — of which five ponds were already developed — were identified, according to records under the jurisdiction of the municipal corporation.

A petition was filed before the NGT by Gurugram resident Vaishali Rana Chandra against the alleged illegal concretisation of the Badshahpur drain, affecting its capacity to recharge groundwater.

The court directed the Haryana government to look into the matter and ensure rainwater harvesting and groundwater recharge was not affected and flooding was avoided.

E-flow meter for hydropower projects

The Sikkim state pollution control board submitted the state’s action-taken report on the matter directing installation of e-flow meters for hydroelectric projects, in compliance with a December 3, 2019 NGT order.

Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand and West Bengal were asked to do the same in the order.

The report stated that e-flow meter was installed for seven hydropower projects. In three hydro-electric projects, the e-flow meter was not installed because the power project was being established, according to the report.

An application was filed over hydro stations in Himachal Pradesh for not measuring the flow of water released downstream during the lean season, resulting in greater pollution levels and harm to aquatic life due to water scarcity. An average lean season flow of 15-20 per cent is required to be maintained.

The NGT order said maintaining minimum flow was necessary for riverine ecology and such requirements cannot be dispensed with.

Planting of native tree species in Delhi

The NGT September 3 directed the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) to plant 500 trees of native species and ordered the process to be overseen by Delhi’s principal chief conservator of forests (PPCF). An application was filed before the NGT alleging felling of 40-50 trees by Sajjan Singh Yadav in connivance with the DJB officials for making furniture.

A report was sought from the PPCF by the NGT. Illegal felling of trees within the premises of DJB, Chanakyapuri was received by Delhi’s forest and wildlife department. Staff of the south division’s tree offence cell inspected the site and reported illegal felling of three trees and illegal pruning of 10 others in the property owned by the DJB.

The matter was processed according to the provisions of the Delhi Preservation of Tree Act, 1994. Subsequently, a May 5 speaking order was issued, compounding the offence and conditional to the payment of Rs 3,80,000 (Rs 60,000 for each tree illegally felled and Rs 20,000 for each tree illegally pruned).

The plantation of 500 trees of native tree species, including Neem, Bargat, Peepal, Amaltas, etc of five-six feet height was ordered to be completed June end. Delhi’s conservator of forests said the amount of Rs. 3,80,000 was deposited by the DJB in compliance to the conditions of compounding the case, but no compliance of the plantation of the 500 trees occurred.

Shift industries from residential areas: NGT to Uttar Pradesh

The NGT directed for a September 23, 2013 Supreme Court (SC) order — for shifting industrial activities from residential areas in Uttar Pradesh (UP) to protect the environment — to be complied with expeditiously.

A status report as of December 31, 2020 must be placed on record in the form of an affidavit by UP’s principal secretary.

The NGT said UP failed to comply with the SC order and other related orders by the NGT that required this compliance.

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