Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (January 12, 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: Monday 15 January 2024

Supreme Court directs Centre to formulate a policy for phasing out heavy-duty diesel vehicles

The Supreme Court (SC) on January 11, 2024 directed the Union of India to formulate a policy for phasing out heavy duty diesel vehicles and replacing them with vehicles of Bharat Stage (BS) VI unit emission standards. The Centre was told to formulate an appropriate policy on this behalf within six months.

The process of investigating the possibility of finding better sources, such as CNG, hybrid, and electric, for heavy-duty vehicles should continue, the SC recommended.

To make the best use of inland container depots (ICD) in Delhi, the authorities involved must develop a plan that takes into account the recommendations contained in the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority report, the SC said.

A bench comprising Justices Abhay Oka and Pankaj Mithal was hearing an appeal filed by the Container Corporation of India against the directions issued by the National Green Tribunal (NGT). The matter related to pollution created by the ICD at Tughlakabad, Delhi. It was said that ICD is used by the trucks/trailers not destined for Delhi and is used for delivery/pick up to and from locations outside Delhi.

Sewage and solid waste management in Badrinath

The report filed by the Uttarakhand Pollution Control Board (UKPCB) on the status of sewage management and solid waste management in Badrinath has some aspects that need to be worked on, said the NGT on January 11, 2024.

Faecal coliform has exceeded limits, according to the results of the sewage treatment plants (STP), the court said. Thus, there is a need to properly disinfect the effluents. Further, the report did not disclose the adequacy of two STPs — 0.26 and 1 million litres per day — particularly during the peak tourist/pilgrims season.

The court listed the next hearing of the case for March 6, 2024.

UKPCB’s November 22, 2023 report furnished information on the status of sewage management and solid waste management. For liquid waste management, three STPs are established at Badrinath. Two STPs are based on SBR technology. Enforcement against the use of banned single use plastic items is effectively implemented in Badrinath.

“Badrinath area is well connected with sewerage network as well as sewage treatment facilities. The sewerage network is connected with hotels / ashrams / commercial establishments and five open drains are feeding to two STPs for treatment,” said the report.

Cauvery basin losing green cover

The NGT, January 10, 2024, said the new report about the massive loss of green cover in Cauvery basin raised substantial issues relating to the compliance of environmental laws. 

The court directed notice to be issued to the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change; Forest Survey of India, southern zone Bengaluru; Kerala Forest Department; Karnataka Forest Department and Tamil Nadu Forest Department. All five respondents have been directed to file their responses before the southern zone bench, Chennai. 

An original application was registered suo motu on the basis of the news article, Cauvery basin lost nearly 12,850 of green cover, published in newspaper The Hindu on December 11, 2023. Natural vegetation on nearly 12,850 sq. km of land in the Cauvery basin has been lost in the 50 years from 1965 to 2016, the article said.

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