Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (April 17, 2024)

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: Thursday 18 April 2024

Removal of debris from Mithi river: Joint committee constituted

National Green Tribunal (NGT) on April 15, 2024 directed the constitution of a joint committee to look into the removal of construction and demolition debris dumped on the banks of Mithi river, Mumbai.

The committee was instructed to visit the site, draft a time-bound action plan and submit its report along with documentation and photographs. The panel was also directed to give a hearing to the applicants to gather suggestions from them, all within a month, considering the impending rainy season.

The committee’s objective was to determine whether the debris needed to be relocated and, if so, where it would be shifted and who would bear the expenses, among other considerations, the bench of Justice Dinesh Kumar Singh, western zone bench, Pune said.

On February 28, 2024, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board submitted a report by National Environmental Engineering Research Institute titled Assessment of Environmental Damages Due to Debris Dumped at Mithi River, Mumbai. The project cost is documented at Rs 75 lakh plus GST.

In a previous order, the NGT directed Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) to coordinate with collector of Mumbai Suburban district, principal secretary of the urban development department of Maharashtra and chief executive engineer of Aarey Milk Colony.

However, the order could not be executed due to the MCGM and the Aarey authority shifting responsibility onto each other. It is also unclear where the debris would be relocated and who will cover the costs.

Aarey Milk Colony, in its affidavit, stated that they lack both the manpower and the resources to clear the debris at the site in question independently, despite the assertion that the area where it was dumped belongs to them.

Regulation of borewells in Delhi

Delhi Jal Board (DJB) decided to take action against illegal borewells, with a particular focus on areas where water extraction is excessive or used for profiteering, the NGT was told by Delhi government on April 15, 2024 in a status report. 

The decision was taken in a meeting on April 12, 2024 convened by Delhi chief secretary, which included officials from DJB, Municipal Corporation of Delhi, Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), Delhi Police, urban development department, revenue department and other departments concerned.

It was agreed that permissions would be granted in areas where the water table is satisfactory and the water is potable.

DJB was advised to improve water supply efficiency by addressing leakages in both water and revenue. DJB, district magistrates, and the DPCC were tasked with enforcing borewell regulation rules issued under Environment Protection Act, 1986.

Non-compliance of environmental norms by mining company

NGT directed a joint committee to file a report over a complaint of environmental norms being violated by a mineral-based company, Ashapur Meinchem Ltd in Rowale village, Dapoli taluka in Ratnagiri district, Maharashtra.

The committee would consist of one representative each from the Union ministry of environment, forests and climate change (MoEFCC); Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB); Central Ground Water Board (CGWB); and district collector, Ratnagiri.

The committee was instructed to visit the site after informing the applicants’ counsel and to submit a factual report along with any actions taken regarding non-compliances, if any, as well as the amount of environmental damage compensation. It was also directed to conduct an inspection before the onset of the monsoon. 

MoEFCC would serve as the nodal agency for coordination and logistic support, stated the order. The matter would be next heard on July 3, 2024.

The matter concerns the non-compliance with the terms and conditions of the consent to operate and environmental clearance granted to Ashapur Meinchem for mining bauxite ore.

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