Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (April 8, 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: Tuesday 09 April 2024

Difficult to believe 100% source segregation of solid waste happening in urban and rural areas of Chhattisgarh: NGT

The National Green Tribunal (NGT), April 4, 2024 expressed doubts regarding some of the waste management figures mentioned in the six-monthly report filed by Chhattisgarh, as well as in a presentation delivered by the chief secretary of Chhattisgarh. 

“With respect to solid waste management in the urban area, it is stated that 100 per cent source segregation is done at the urban area and nearly 100 per cent (2,048 tonnes per day [TPD] out of 2051 TPD) is done at the rural area which is difficult to believe,” said the tribunal.

There was no clarity on the operation of solid-liquid resource management for waste processing, utilisation of products and management of residues / rejects, the court noted. The amounts reported for waste generation in 2023 and currently remain the same without any variation, it pointed out. 

In the case of legacy waste, 6,56,900 tonnes out of total 10,17,440 has been remediated, except in Raipur and Rajnandgaon. However, in the second six-monthly report, no details of legacy waste in quantitative terms are provided. Additionally, regarding sewage management, there still exists a gap of 373.3 million litres per day (MLD) in sewage treatment capacity.

For eight sewage treatment plants (STP), the capacity utilisation is below the designed capacity. Furthermore, no timeline has been given for the completion of STPs for 423.7 MLD. 

An independent committee needs to be constituted to verify the accuracy of the disclosures made in the report/presentation by Chhattisgarh, the NGT stated.

The joint committee has been tasked with thoroughly examining the second six-monthly report dated April 1, 2024 and the presentation submitted by the chief secretary of Chhattisgarh. Their objective is to ascertain the accuracy of the disclosures made by collecting information from the ground level.

Industrial pollution affecting the health of Ayyankuzhi village, Kochi

NGT on April 4, 2024 stated that the issue of industrial pollution affecting the health of the residents of Ayyankuzhi village in Kochi, Kerala was serious and directed the authorities as well as industries to submit reports on the matter.

The tribunal issued directions to include the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB); Kerala State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB); district collector / district magistrate of Kochi, Ernakulam; Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL), Kochi refinery; and Hindustan Organic Chemicals Ltd (HOCL), Kochi, as parties to the case. 

All respondents were instructed to submit their responses one week prior to the next hearing scheduled for May 27, 2024, before the southern zonal bench of NGT in Chennai.

The application was registered suo motu based on an article published in newspaper The New Indian Express on February 23, 2024. The news item highlighted the plight of residents in Ayyankuzhi village, located within the Ambalamugal industrial area, situated between the Kochi refinery of BPCL and HOCL. 

Many villagers were forced to relocate to safer areas due to respiratory issues and health problems stemming from the conditions in the area, the article stated.

Carcass plant at Ludhiana to be made operational at earliest

Punjab government assured the NGT on April 5, 2024 that it will make all possible efforts to operationalise the carcass plant located in Ludhiana within two months after the forthcoming parliamentary elections. 

The tribunal was hearing the matter related to the operation of five hadda roddis (dump yard for dead animals) in the close vicinity of Sutlej river and making the carcass plant set up at Ludhiana functional. 

An action-taken report filed by the deputy commissioner of Ludhiana on April 2, 2024, revealed that all five illegal hadda roddis were ordered to cease their illegal operations, which included disposal of carcasses into Sutlej river. Furthermore, the hadda roddis situated on the banks of the Sutlej have halted their operations and no carcasses are being disposed of into the river. 

Notices to recover environmental compensation (EC) of Rs 2,28,12000 from each hadda roddis have been issued and the recovery amount has been declared as arrears of land revenue vide a letter dated February 7, 2024, the report said.

As a precautionary measure, the deputy commissioner has directed the Punjab Pollution Control Board, commissioner of police and sub-divisional magistrate, Ludhiana West to ensure regular inspections to prevent any illegal operations of hadda roddis in violation of the district magistrate’s order.

Regarding the modern carcass plant, set up at Ludhiana, the report stated that efforts were made to make the unit functional but the plant could run only for a brief period of 10 days (January 15-25, 2024) due to resistance by the local villagers. First information reports or FIRs have been registered against the agitators.

The villagers started agitations after visiting the existing carcass disposal plant at Keru Jodhpur and witnessing the problems faced by the local residents.

In the report, the deputy commissioner stated that the current plant in Ludhiana is modern and the issues experienced by residents near the Jodhpur plant will not be encountered by residents near the Ludhiana plant. A comparison of both plants was also provided.

The next hearing of the case is scheduled for August 20, 2024.

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