Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (April 26, 2023)

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 27 April 2023
Down To Earth brings you top environmental cases heard in Supreme Court, high courts & National Green Tribunal

Review of monitoring mechanism

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed the monitoring mechanism of Haryana’s state environment impact assessment authority (SEIAA) and the state pollution control board (HSPCB) to suitably review compliance with environment clearance (EC) conditions. 


Updated protocols are to be brought on record before the court. Necessary safeguards should also be followed at the earliest for all pending projects, the NGT said April 24, 2023. 

The updated policy should consider a mechanism by which electricity is diconnected for areas beyond the sanction plan and areas specified in the EC.

Further, guidelines and protocols should provide for recovery of levied compensation by coercive measures such as initiating prosecution, attachment of property, black-listing, demolition, etc, the court said.

The utilisation of the recovered amount to restore the damage to the environment must be equally prompt. “In view of rampant violations, intervention at policy level in the state cannot be wished away,” said the NGT. 

A plea in the NGT said SEIAA, Haryana passed an order that a project set up by Vatika Ltd, Gurugram, in village Sikhopur, tehsil and district Gurugram was illegal and did not have the requisite environmental clearance (EC). 

The project proponent was liable to pay Rs 8.1 crore at the rate of three per cent of the project value of Rs 266 crore. One per cent was for penalty and the rest compensation. Even then, no action was taken to remedy the illegality or recover compensation.

The applicant Aashish Sardana further said SEIAA, Haryana was not enforcing several other orders passed by it against illegal projects. The applicant furnished the details of other projects as well.

The court noted that though SEIAA, Haryana had passed an order holding the project to be illegal, no remedial action was taken to solve the issue. 

It was found that green and open areas were illegally occupied by raising constructions above sanctioned plans. However, these areas were not restored and excess waste generation was not stopped. The compensation was not recovered either and there were provisions for its utilisation to remedy the wrongs.

The NGT sought a response from the project proponent and the chief secretary, Haryana. The chief secretary was asked to coordinate with other departments concerned, prepare a considered policy and file an affidavit before the tribunal within two months.

Inadequate staff at HSPCB

The NGT April 24 directed the chief secretary, Haryana to look into inadequate staffing issues in the HSPCB

The bench of justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and justice Sudhir Agarwal of the NGT said HSPCB’s stand does not show that the state has taken its responsibility seriously. The Haryana government did not file any reply to the NGT. 

“In case Public Service Commission does not make recruitment within the expected time, an alternative for selection may also be looked into,” the judges said. 

The NGT told the chief secretary to take time-bound action in coordination with the authorities concerned. It directed an action-taken report in three months on recruiting vacant posts, strengthening laboratories and monitoring networks and making regional offices operational.

The plea in the NGT said inadequate staffing in HSPCB was resulting in the failure of regulatory mechanisms under the environmental statutes. The petitioner Varun Gulati told the NGT that out of 481 sanctioned posts, only 178 persons are working and the remaining 303 posts are vacant. This resulted in violations, like environmental laws being unregulated. 

The NGT, February 20, 2023 had sought a response in the matter from the Haryana government and HSPCB. The HSPCB replied it had sent a requisition to the Public Service Commission for filling up the posts and was “helpless due to inaction on the part of the commission”.

Illegal construction of school building 

The NGT directed HSPCB and the district magistrate, Faridabad to file an action taken report on the illegal construction of the school building even though it was demolished once. 

The school was being constructed in a green area in Sector-89, Faridabad and violated the master plan and zoning plan. The applicant, Ashok Chandra Gautam, informed the court that in spite of reporting the construction to the authorities, no action had been taken. 

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