Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (August 22, 2022)

Down To Earth brings you top environmental cases heard in Supreme Court, high courts and National Green Tribunal

By DTE Staff
Published: Monday 22 August 2022

Rs 29 crore fine for mining illegally in Aravalli 

Around 1.33 hectares of land was being illegally mined by two entities, Haryana government has submitted to the NGT. A fine of over Rs 29 crore has been imposed on one of them. 

M/s Sunder Marketing Associated was mining around 1.241 hectare area of Aravali plantation in Dadam hills, Bhiwani district, while M/s Govardhan Mines & Minerals has done illegal mining in 0.097 ha. Govardhan Mines & Minerals has been told to pay a penalty of Rs 29,64,71,146 for illegal mining. 

The findings were based on a report by Haryana Space Applications Centre, Hisar. The body is the nodal agency for remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems applications in the state. 

The mining operations has been suspended, the Chief Secretary, Haryana informed the NGT. The dispatch of minerals from the Dadam stone mines vide order, May 2, 2022 has also been suspended by the mines and geology department. 

The firm has been allowed to undertake only rectification work for making the mines safe. 

Review petition against Rs 100 cr fine on Ludhiana civic body junked

The National Green (NGT) dismissed an application filed by the commissioner of the Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana seeking a review of an July 25, 2022 NGT order.

The tribunal had slapped a fine of Rs 100 crore on the Municipal Corporation for failing to comply with Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016. The non-compliance had led to a fire at a waste dumping site, leading to seven people’s death. 

The corporation was told to deposit the sum with the district magistrate, Ludhiana, in a separate account as interim compensation. A monitoring committee constituted by NGT and headed by Justice Jasbir Singh will oversee the expenditure of the sum for remedial measures, NGT had said. 

NGT dismissed the review application August 18, 2022 taking into consideration the report filed by the monitoring committee. 

The report dated May 15, 2022 depicted the utter failure of the state authorities in scientifically handling waste and managing the dumpsite.  

The administration had ignored the potential for damage to human lives as 200-300 rag pickers were allowed to live  around the dumpsite, it had found. Authorities had failed to prevent continuing damage to public health and environment and violated NGT rules and orders. 

Methane gas was being discharged from the landfill, there was no segregation of mix waste and fire hydrants, fire alarms and sirens were not installed, the report said. Leachate water was flowing in large quantities at the site, carcass disposal was not scientific and wastewater was also being discharged into river Satluj.

Losses could be held to be at least Rs 100 crores, which was required for remediation.

Punjab, Haryana monitoring panels can submit reports till end of year

Monitoring committees set up in Punjab and Haryana would continue to function till December 31, 2022, the NGT said August 18, 2022. Several panels have been set up by the tribunal to monitor compliance of its orders on significant environmental issues. 

This would enable the committees to submit status reports of completion or execution of district environment plans, NGT said. 

The monitoring work may be taken over by the respective chief secretaries from January 1, 2023. The work would continue through appropriate administrative monitoring mechanisms under them,.

The NGT had taken up the matter in response to a letter, August 14, 2022 received from Justice Jasbir Singh and Justice Pritam Pal. The former judges of Punjab and Haryana High Court head monitoring committees.

The committees have been required to submit reports of status as on August 31, 2022.

The letter had sought clarification on how status reports through August 31, 2022 would be submitted if the panels can work only till the date. The submission of reports is bound to take time, the letter said. 

One of the issues being monitored is finalisation and execution of District Environment Plans.

Solid waste and sewage waste management in Chandigarh

Waste processing facilities in Chandigarh are inadequate, the NGT noted August 18, 2022. Data submitted by the Chandigarh administration showed a gap of 430 tonne per day to process biodegradable (wet) and non-biodegradable (dry and recyclable) waste. 

Only four out of six sewage treatment plants (STP) in the Union territory are compliant with orders, processing  59.25 minimal liquid discharge (MLD) out of 85.1 MLD installed capacity.

The data shows that 157.5 MLD of sewage is being disposed of without adequate treatment through Sukhna Choe, Patiala Ki Rao and Farida, which ultimately leads to river Ghaggar via Punjab.

The advisor to administrator, Chandigarh should consider designating a senior nodal officer to regularly assess the progress relating to bridging the gaps in several issues, the bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Sudhir Agarwal of the NGT said. 

Some of the issues the nodal should look into are:

  • Sewage and solid waste management
  • Linkage of existing and upcoming STPs with industries and other bulk users including agriculture/horticulture for using treated sewage
  • Remediation and reclamation of legacy waste sites
  • Area utilised for setting up of waste processing plants to process day-to-day waste generation

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