Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (December 21, 2022)

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: Wednesday 21 December 2022
Down To Earth brings you top environmental cases heard in Supreme Court, high courts & National Green Tribunal

Cutting and pruning of trees in Vasant Vihar, Delhi

The National Green Tribunal has asked for a response over the “illegal act of cutting, felling and pruning of trees in Vasant Vihar” from the commissioner for municipal corporation of Delhi (MCD). 

The deputy conservator of forest, West Forests Division (tree officer) and Vasant Vihar Welfare Association were also told to file responses on the matter December 20, 2022. 

Applicants had submitted to the tribunal that some trees were cut/felled in Vasant Vihar without permission September 30, 2022. A complaint by Sanjeev Bagai dated October 28, 2022 was lodged with several authorities concerned. 

The applicants received a Whatsapp communication November 18, 2022 that around 7,000 trees in Vasant Vihar are due to be pruned for a long time and the process will begin November 21, 2022.

MCD does not have the means to carry out pruning and had conveyed its inability to carry out pruning of trees in Vasant Vihar, the communication further stated. 

The applicants raised objections to the same and also sought information from the MCD under the Right to Information Act, 2005 but did not receive any response. 

The contractor began pruning trees in Vasant Vihar November 20, 2022 without obtaining requisite permission under the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994 and the guidelines dated October 1, 2019 for pruning of trees. 

The applicants complained to the authorities concerned, but no action has been taken on the same, the court was informed.

STPs in Rewari violating effluent norms

The effluents of sewage treatment plants (STP) in Rewari are not as per standards fixed by the Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB), a joint committee stated in a report to the NGT. 

There are five STPs operated by the Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) and one operated by Haryana Shehri Vikas Pradhikaran (HSVP). A point of discharge at the outlet of a pipeline carrying sewage effluent of Rewari city into a channel in village Jarthal is also violating the norms. 

The joint panel was constituted by the NGT to look into the issue September 30, 2022. 

The panel collected the samples from the inlet and outlet of STPs during an inspection. Parameters were found to exceed the prescribed limits, according to an analysis report from Board Laboratory, Faridabad. 

PHED and HSVP, Rewari need to upgrade/improve the functioning of STPs under their control, the committee recommended. Sewage/effluent discharge standards for STPs need to follow norms as circulated by the HSPCB vide letter dated July 2, 2020.

The applicant has submitted that sewage from several STPs established in Rewari is being discharged in hundreds of acres of vacant land of Sahabi river situated near village Kharkhara, Khaliawas, on Delhi Jaipur National Highway. 

The stagnated sewage has destroyed trees and other vegetation. Drinking the contaminated groundwater had put the health of residents of several villages at risk. 

Residents of village Kharkhara, Khaliawas, Bhatsana, Tatarroop, Nikhri, Masani, Rasgan, Dungerwas, Titherpur, Alwalpur and Dharuhera have become vulnerable to pandemic and water-borne diseases, it said. 

Felling of trees in Darjeeling tea estate

The management of a tea estate in Darjeeling must plant saplings of indigenous tree species at its own cost for felling trees in the garden, West Bengal Pollution Control Board submitted to the NGT. The report was uploaded to the NGT site December 20, 2022. 

Saplings of indigenous tree species as prescribed by the Forest Department must be planted, which needs to be taken up at the onset of monsoon and completed within a period of one month, preferably in the month of June 2023. 

No tree shall be cut further in the tea estate in Darjeeling located in plot no 769, the report further said. This must be done to control soil erosion, stabilise landslides and land slip and facilitate the restoration of ecology and habitat in the hill slopes gradient area.

Permission for felling only shade trees in plot number 1773, 1774, 1775 near Manju park may be granted through district magistrate, Darjeeling, the report added.

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