Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (September 9, 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 09 September 2020

Disposal of spent catalysts

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) submitted its report to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) September 8 on unscientific disposal of spent catalysts by oil refineries in India. Spent catalysts are categorised as hazardous waste and contain nickel, cadmium, zinc, copper, arsenic, vanadium and cobalt.

This has been categorised under list of common recyclable hazardous wastes at Schedule IV of Hazardous Waste Management Rules (HOWM), 2016.

Synopsis of the CPCB report:

The committee observed that spent catalyst, quantity and disposal method was not defined clearly in the authorisation granted by the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) concerned in case of Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) Panipat and some other oil refineries.

IOCL Panipat, Haryana, IOCL Mathura Refinery, Uttar Pradesh, IOCL Barauni, Bihar, Reliance Jamnagar, Gujarat are generating spent catalyst to the tune of 8505.215 mega tonnes, 518.82 MT, 5202 MT and 407 MT respectively.

This exceeded the authorised quantity of spent catalyst given in the authorization by the concerned SPCB during the last three years.

All 23 oil refineries are not maintaining generation of spent catalyst information in the requisite form as per Hazardous Waste Management Rules, 2016. During the inspection of the joint committee, it was found that IOCL Panipat, HPCL Bhatinda and IOCL Digboi were not maintaining packaging and labelling of hazardous and other waste as per Rule 17 of HOWM Rules, 2016.

 In addition, these units (expect HPCL Mittal Refinery, Bhatinda, Punjab) also did not have adequate storage facility for safe and environmentally sound management of hazardous and other wastes.

Generally, oil refineries do not examine the eligibility of recylers / utilisers of spent catalyst before e-auctioning. The committee recommended that SPCBs / pollution control committee (PCCs) must be directed to issue proper authorisation for handling and management of hazardous and other waste to generators / utilizers / recyclers.

Another recommendation was that all refineries generating hazardous waste ensure to dispose of their hazardous and other waste in scientific manner or to the authorised utilisers / recyclers in accordance with HOWM Rules, 2016.

All the spent catalyst generator i.e., oil refineries, should be directed to prepare uniform standard operating procedure (SoP) for e-auctioning of hazardous and other waste including spent catalyst across the country.

Polavaram project

An application was filed before the NGT by Ponguleti Sudhakar Reddy regarding submergence in Bhadrachalam and displacement of hundreds of families without any plan for rehabilitation due to Polavaram project.

The NGT vide order February 20 ordered for the constitution of a committee comprising representatives of CPCB, additional PCCF, Telangana State Pollution Control Board and district collector to examine the issues raised in the complaint.

The committee in its report said the Polavaram project was nearing completion. Though assessment of project affected area and people affected in Odisha and Chhattisgarh had been carried out, neither a rehabilitation plan nor any construction of protective embankments had been undertaken as Odisha and Chhattisgarh are yet to give their consent for either one of the options.

The total number of villages affected by project in Andhra Pradesh alone (including the seven mandals of Telangana transferred to Andhra Pradesh) was 371.

The rehabilitation of project affected people as per Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, in West Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh was under progress while in East Godavari district socio-economic survey and the eligibility list of project-affected families was yet to be prepared.

Issues related to stagnation of drainage and stagnation of local streams and Kinnerasani river which may cause flash-submergence locally are anticipated to occur by Telangana post completion of the project if water is maintained at full reservoir level (FRL) for some days in the reservoir. But Polavaram Project Authority (PPA) or Water Resources Department (WRD), Andhra Pradesh, had not examined these issues, the report said. 

The committee informed the Tribunal that in order to clarify all the apprehensions about the project and to address key issues, the PPA, Central Water commission, Godavari Water Dispute Tribunal and Water Resource Department, should convene a meeting with Telangana, Odisha and Chhattisgarh within two months.

Adani project stalled

The Rajasthan High Court on Tuesday temporarily stayed an Adani group’s joint venture project with the state government for building a 1,500 mega watt solar energy park near Pokhran in Jaisalmer.

A Jodhpur bench of the High Court, while staying the project, also sought the Rajasthan government’s stand on a petition by local farmers challenging the allocation of nearly 990 hectares of agricultural land to the private business house for executing the solar energy project.

The bench of justices Sangeet Lodha and Rameshwar Vyas also sought the stand of project executant Adani Renewable Energy Park Rajasthan Limited on the farmers' petition and ordered status quo over the project land and slated September 29 for further hearing of the petition.

The bench slated September 29 for the next hearing on Rajasthan Additional Advocate General Rekha Borana’s plea for two weeks to file a reply to the petition.

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