Court Digest: Major environment hearings of the week (August 19-24)

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: Saturday 24 August 2019
Photo: Getty Images

Demand for employment

The Supreme Court on August 21, 2019 directed notices to be issued to Orissa Integrated Power Ltd (OIP) and Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL). The top court was hearing the application filed by MCL regarding employment to people whose land it had acquired for building power projects in the state.

The Solicitor General notified the court that apart from Kirpsira and Ratansar villages, the lands acquired from Garjanbahal and Bangurkela villages were “made over to Orissa Ultra Megha Power Project of OIP” and thus MCL has no responsibility in terms of Orissa Resettlement and Rehabilitation Policy Act, 2006.

Moreover, MCL has, on its part, given employment to 1,634 people and it would not be possible for the company to extend the same facility to others, especially when the lands lost by those families are not under it, the Solicitor General said.

It was also suggested MCL is ready to make a monetary compensation of Rs 10 lakhs to each of the relevant claimants, in lieu of employment with a liberty to recover the amount from OIP.

The counsel appearing for the claimants including the petitioners who have filed contempt petitions, however, expressed their inability to accept the offer.

According to the counsel, the land-owning people, as a result of the acquisition now stand completely displaced and the only connection which they could retain with the land was through the employment as it would guarantee them occupation and residence in and around the lands in question.

Deepor Beel lake as eco-sensitive zone

The National Green Tribunal (NGT), on August 19, asked the Assam government to free Deepor Bol lake of hydrophytes, clean it and declare the lake and the adjacent wildlife sanctuary an eco-sensitive zone.

The NGT was hearing a case regarding encroachment around the lake and shifting of solid waste management plants near the water body. Meetings and visits were conducted to identify a place to set up the plant, said Additional Advocate General for Assam Nalin Kohli.

The site should be developed “as an integrated solid waste management plant as prescribed under the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 to take care of future space requirements”, the tribunal said.

Alternative fuel in Tamil Nadu

The NGT on August 19 directed the Tamil Nadu government to submit another action plan on the use of alternative fuel to reduce air pollution within three months. The tribunal expressed its dissatisfaction with the last report saying it was not in tune with the guidelines provided.

“Under the present condition, the pollution level is under control when compared to other states and enough LPG is available throughout the state and CNG is not available,” said an action plan submitted before the tribunal through the Joint Transport Commissioner (Road and Safety), Tamil Nadu  

“A committee has been constituted to study the same,” it added.

Green audit on ship breaking method

The NGT asked the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to conduct an environment audit on the impact of ship-breaking method within three months.

The tribunal, in its order of August 19, said the audit has to be conducted either by the National Institute of Oceanography or National Environmental Engineering Research Institute and should be in compliance of Coastal Regulation Zone notification.

The study has to be completed within three months.

Poor sanitation at Govardhan Parvat

The NGT, on August 19 expressed displeasure over absence of officers at temples and areas in Govardhan Parvat like Parikrama Marg, Mansi Ganga, Daan Ghati and other temples that are, cleanliness wise, in a dismal state. The tribunal was hearing a case on the poor state of sanitation at the hill.

Court Commissioner Anand V Shukla visited the site on two festivals and reported that the religious place follows no rules when it comes to cleaning garbage and removing it from temples. Also, he reported that sound systems played there whole night, without any check.

As the festival of Janmashtami is near, the tribunal directed Mathura’s district magistrate, senior superintendent of police, sub-divisional magistrate and other concerned officers “to camp at Govardhan for two days — August 20 and 21 — and ensure that all garbage, and other issues of cleanliness in Parikrama and other temples be resolved”.

Since Parikrama Marg is in Rajasthan, the tribunal asked Bharatpur’s divisional commissioner, SP and SDO-Deeg to appear before it on August 28, the next date of hearing.

Illegal sand mining near Sarayu

The NGT on August 20 asked the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board to look into allegations of illegal sand mining by the Sarayu river at Meerapur Duaba in Ayodhya district.

Complainant Vinod Kumar Soni had said the river’s flow was being diverted by miners at Bekunth Dham.

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